Things are not so posh in the world of luxury goods these days. With the U.S. still working it’s way back from the recession and Hong Kong rocked by civil unrest, there are still a few reliable markets for high-end watches and jewelry. One of them is India, a country with a penchant for lavish weddings, large watches and all things gold.
That’s why the house of Bulgari has just opened its first store in New Delhi in hopes of supplying those gold-loving citizens of India with the fine pieces they crave. Jean-Christophe Babin, who headed up the Tag Heuer brand for 12 years before becoming CEO of Bulgari, sounded very positive about the move.
“Indians are the second highest consumers of gold in the world,” Babin stated. “And it has the potential to become one of the largest markets for branded jewellery. In spite of low growth across various luxury categories such as watches, jewellery has been growing at double digits.”
Bulgari is following in the steps of rival Cartier, which already has an outlet in India. “There are only two global brands here, so the potential is huge,” Babin explained. “While the French is more classical in design and use diamonds liberally, we use a lot of colourful gems. Indians love colour.”
The house of Bulgari has plans to tailor almost 20% of the products sold at the New Delhi store to the specialized tastes of Indian buyers. Babin hopes to give the local purveyors of luxury goods some formidable competition.
“For instance, when it comes to watches, Indian women love large dials,” pointed out Babin. “However, their taste is global since they travel a lot. This is slowly weaning them away from their neighbourhood jewellers and helping them trust the global ones.”
Like other makers of luxury merchandise, Bulgari hopes to get the attention and loyalty of younger customers with more moderately priced products in hopes that they will become dedicated followers of the brand.
“It is important for us to attract the younger generation. They need to have access to the brand,” explained Babin. “Today they might invest 950 euros in a product. Tomorrow, as they grow in life, they might want to upgrade and invest 5,000 euros in a Bulgari product.”
Another reason for catering to the youthful customer is the Indian obsession with extravagant weddings. Wealthy Indians love spending money on the most expensive and luxurious bridal jewelry and Bulgari hopes to cater to their tastes for gold and gems. “We will sell engagement rings and wedding jewellery in India soon,” stated Babin.
While most of us won’t be able to afford a Bulgari engagement ring or a fine watch like the Bulgari Octo Finissimo anytime soon, it’s always nice to see a legendary brand not only staying in business but also expanding its horizons.