High spenders darling of luxury retail biggies

CHANDIGARH/AHMEDABAD: Indian consumers are demanding and getting service extraordinaire from premium brands flocking the high streets. Indulgence, it seems, is the key to the consumers’ wallet. In-shop cafes, lounge areas, kids’ play area, personal stylist, manicures and spas are the new freebies that high retail spenders might expect at Indian outlets of Esprit, UCB, Samsaara, Tommy Hilfiger, Ritu Kumar, Estee Lauder, et al.

Some international brands are providing ‘frills’ to the well-travelled Indian consumer—an incentive to buy the brand at home. For example, Espirit India intends to have in-store salons and spas in select stores, a service that is not provided in its international stores. “The service expectation are exceptionally high (in India),” says Espirit (India) COO Manjula Tiwari.

Others like Estee Lauder will provide ‘frills’ because of their different (luxury) brand positioning in India. Wellness and beauty services seem to have become the complimentary norm for high-end women apparel retail. Spa facility, bridal makeup or photo shoot is offered to high spenders at Satya Paul and Samsaara stores while select shoppers at Ritu Kumar get complimentary ‘glow treatments’ at high-end beauty salons.

In-store cafes and lounges are also a new trend with both international and high-end Indian brands. Most brands right from Tommy Hilfiger, Esprit, Satya Paul to lifestyle retailer Shoppers Stop and table-ware brand Magpie have either introduced or are experimenting with this concept. “Women like to chat and hangout while shopping. Hence, we will have a lounge area in our new outlet of Samsaara at Bandra (Mumbai),” says Genesis Colors CEO Nalini Gupta.

Esprit India is checking out the feasibility of in-store cafes and play areas for children. While wellness, beauty, child-care and fashion advisors are mostly on the house; food and beverages could be paid facilities, depending on the shopping patterns. “The store is going to be spread over 5,000 sqft, out of which about 1,000 sqft would be devoted (one floor) to either a wine club or a sushi club or a cafe. It will be a paid service,” says Ms Gupta.

“Indian shoppers still aspire for the bling of a big brand, but it’s extended courtesies on the side that keep them coming back for more,” says CEO of an international label retailing in India.

Brands have also started offering complimentary product maintenance and styling help to select customers. United Colours of Benetton offers free dry cleaning for suits bought at its men formal wear brand Uomo. Wills Lifestyle and Estee Lauder plan to offer personal stylist and makeover help to the high-end regular customers.

Luxury watch boutique chain Ethos offers free home delivery of watches. Connected services like strap size adjustment is on the house “regardless of whether the watch is bought from us or not”, says Ethos GM Rakesh Mohunta.

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