India’s Luxury Goods Consumers



Slick Rick, British-American rapper, 2010

Move over Snoop Dogg, Kanye West et al. 

Bling, it could be argued, was invented a century ago by India’s Maharajas. In the first half of the 20th century the vastly wealthy Indian royalty commissioned bespoke pieces from Europe’s finest jewellers – Cartier, Chaumet, Van Cleef & Arpels and Mauboussin among them. They also patronised firms such as Rolls Royce and LVMH.

Maharaja Patiala

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, wearing the famous Patiala necklace.                  (Cartier, 1928)

Although times have changed, India today is a significant and rapidly growing market for luxury goods. The country’s 56 billionaires have a combined wealth of more than $190 billion. The number of ultra High Net worth Households (HNHs)  has grown by 16% this year, and now numbers an estimated 117,000. 55% of these households are situated in just four cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata.

The Indian luxury market grew at a rate of 30% in 2013, reaching a total value of around $8.5 billion. It is estimated it will hit $14 billion by 2016. Discretionary and non-discretionary spend has risen from 30% of total income allocation last year to 45% this year.  Jewellery (in India jewellery, especially gold, serves as a portable investment) is the single largest spend category, followed by apparel and accessories and then by luxury holidays. The appetite for luxury travel is one feature that separates Indian and Chinese luxury consumers.

India’s improving economy has stimulated a positive change in the outlook of the ultra-rich, a trend that looks set to continue and even accelerate. LVMH’s Marc-Antoine Jamet, who has spent more than two decades working in India, has likened the situation there to that in China ten or fifteen years ago. The growth of the middle class, an increased desire – especially among the young – to express their individuality, and a growing interest in brands are factors that shaped the growth of the luxury market in China, and exist in India now. As in China, consumers who are stimulated by logos has given way to a more sophisticated audience motivated by considerations of quality and heritage. They are also looking for more bespoke experiences rather than buying off the rack.

In such a favourable environment, the first-mover advantage is clear. Airport advertising is a high profile and cost effective way to reach this affluent and travel-loving audience.

For information on cost and availability of advertising at Indian airports please contact