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Sep 07, 2022

India’s ascent as a fashion frontier ep.1: Millionaires & digital growth

This three-episode series explores the Indian luxury market, including its growth forecasts. Thanks to a collection of research and statistics from leading analysts, this first episode reveals how the number of dollar-millionaire households in India will increase in the coming years, how high earners are the most optimistic of global millionaires, and what are their favourite global brands. But also, the similarities and differences between the Indian and Chinese luxury markets as emerging economies will be explained in terms of rising middle-class income and prosperity. At the same time, a focus on India’s purchasing behaviour during the Covid-19 pandemic will lead to an analysis of the impact of the country’s digital transformation. While episode two will address the Indian millennials’ powerhouse, the third and last chapter will discuss the possibilities of menswear brands in the country with a detailed case history.


India has long been whispered about as an emerging luxury frontier, and international high-end brands are finally taking notice. Until recently, the luxury industry did not take full advantage of India’s transformation into a rising global economic powerhouse. Considered the latest beacon of shopping for the global luxury market or a global hotspot, India is anything but an easy space to navigate.

India as the latest beacon of shopping for the global luxury market

India as the latest beacon of shopping for the global luxury market

Despite its promises, the country is fragmented in nature with an interplay of different tier cities, as well as various consumer behaviours, digital penetration, in-store experiences and omnichannel expectations, and a glaring lack of commercial infrastructure and beyond.

In spite of it all, India symbolises a huge opportunity for luxury providers and merchants if only they could truly understand the market and its people. 


India ranks third in billionaire population globally, and Mumbai is home to most of the country’s UHNWIs–Ultra High Net Worth Individuals and millionaire households

According to the Hurun India Wealth Report 2021, the number of dollar-millionaire households in India has increased by 11% to 4,58,000 compared to last year. These households have a net worth of at least INR 7 crore (8,25,655 USD). The number of Indian dollar-millionaire households is estimated to increase by 30% over the next five years to reach 6,00,000 households by 2026.

A view of Mumbai.

A view of Mumbai

With 20,300 millionaires (USD) households, Mumbai is India’s millionaire capital, followed by Delhi and Kolkata with 17,400 and 10,500 millionaire households, respectively.

As per Knight Frank’s Wealth report, the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals with net assets of or above $30 million (Rs 226 crore) increased by 11 per cent in 2021: the highest percentage growth in the Asia Pacific region. Moreover, at 145 billionaires, India has the third-highest billionaire population globally, after US and China.

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai, where the first Dior boutique was opened in 2010

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai, where the first Dior boutique was opened in 2010

The luxury consulting firm Agility Research & Strategy conducted extensive research on Millionaires in 2021 based in the United States, India, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan. High earners in India, China, and the US were found to be the most optimistic of global millionaires. 

Anita Barta, managing director of Agility Research, believes the positive trend will impact luxury consumption. “Contrary to what one would think, wealthy millionaires have been spending on luxury products and experiences across markets, and that includes gifting luxury to others as well as buying for themselves,” she told Jing Daily. “Chanel, Dior, and Cartier are the top-three gifted brands in this study.” The report also highlights how the global pandemic has changed the lifestyle and goals of many millionaires, giving birth to a new concept of luxury. It also captured how the modern definition of luxury is providing toward sustainability.


As one of the fastest growing markets in global luxury, India is expected to surpass USD 200 billion by 2030

The size of the Indian luxury market is projected to surpass $200 billion by 2023. According to Statista, the market is projected to grow annually by 8.03% (CAGR 2021-25). Although the covid scenario has made it hard to predict anything with certainty, it is estimated that India’s economic growth will be in the range of 7.5-8.5%, sustained over the next decade. As predicted by Euromonitor International, the market is expected to be worth $8.5 billion in 2022.

Luxury items in a luxury store in Mumbai

Luxury items in a luxury store in Mumbai

In a global strategy report published by Goldman Sachs, the American investment firm said India’s stock market could grow to more than $5 trillion to become the fifth-largest in the world by 2024. Additionally, direct foreign investment, political stability and highly skilled workforce development have aided India in accelerating its economic prosperity.


From Louis Vuitton to Hermès and Gucci: which brands are increasing profits and sales in India

International brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermès, and Gucci have strengthened customer relationships and increased profits and sales in India over the past few years.

Gucci store in Mumbai

Gucci store in Mumbai

Burberry has shown the most substantial growth in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA), with sales up 47% year on year, with spending levels back above pre-pandemic levels, as sales to American tourists also bounced back strongly. But not all luxury brands managed to develop and replicate these winning market strategies.


Increased income and prosperity of the middle class: similarities and differences between the Indian and Chinese luxury markets as emerging economies

Constant comparison between China and India’s luxury market has been made regarding income increases and the thriving middle-class. But the route for growth and luxury consumption interestingly varies with a few commonalities and differences.

India's sense of style as seen in a magazine

India's sense of style as seen in a magazine

In a paper published in the Journal of Customer Behaviour, Julie Bogaert & Teck-Yong Eng argued that “India has always had wealthy elites such as the maharajas, upper class and royalty that consume luxury products throughout its consumption history.” By contrast, China’s 20th-century communist ideology directly disagrees with luxury consumption. Conversely, the same approach adopted for China will not gain traction within India.


Purchasing behaviour during the Covid-19 pandemic, inflation and private wealth: what has happened in India over the past few years

In the latter half of 2020 and through 2021, affluent Indian consumers bought luxury goods and experiences almost unbridled by the challenging pandemic restrictions on both the mind and the mall. They were responding to new spins in the mix of browsing and buying: digital shopping, D2C launches, last mile selling, client personalisation, social media-led marketing, discounts, dark stores (shut to the public but housed with goods to meet online orders) and home deliveries for luxury goods for customers via concierge services with all COVID-19 protocols intact.

According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) based inflation report, India’s retail inflation surged to 6.95% in March 2022: the highest rate of price rise since October 2020.

In India, private wealth went up from 290% in 1980 to 560% in 2020.


What will be the consequences of India’s digital transformation as sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic

Two out of three affluent residents purchased luxury products online for the first time during the Covid-19 restrictions. According to the Atlas of Affluence 2022 white paper, more than 65% of non-metropolitan residents regularly purchase luxury brand products online, compared to 53% of metropolitan residents.

During the pandemic, luxury brands had to speed up their digital transformation to sustain growth. Homegrown e-commerce platforms helped these luxury brands reach smaller towns. Trends like distance selling, WhatsApp, and video-assisted sales helped the brands constantly grow by fuelling further demand and interest while establishing connections with its consumers.

Vegas Mall in New Delhi

Vegas Mall in New Delhi

Overall retail sales grew by 12 per cent compared to the pre-pandemic levels of March 2019. For years, analysts have projected the rise of India as a global superpower, and not even the COVID-19 pandemic has thwarted faith in the country’s long-term economic growth and stock market potential. According to BCG, online retail spending in India is expected to grow nearly sixfold by 2030 due to the expansion in the number of digitally-influenced and online shoppers.

Digitally-influenced retail spending is expected to surpass USD 1.5 trillion by 2030, accounting for about 80 per cent of total retail spending. Not only will brands be able to penetrate untapped markets and consumer segments, but providing a seamless experience will also be crucial.



Falguni Shah
Tutor in Fashion Business Undergraduate, and Luxury Brand Management and Digital Marketing Postgraduate programmes, Mumbai
Rachana Singh
Unit Leader in Fashion Business Undergraduate, and Luxury Brand Management and Digital Marketing Postgraduate programmes, Mumbai