Market Insights: Interview with Anil Chopra - FMCG, Beauty, Lifestyle and Media Advisor India

Oct 20, 2021



How has the Indian retail market evolved during recent years and what are your expectations for the future?

In India, most of the luxury and premium products are sold in the malls of important metropolitan cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore.

However, the country is increasingly modernising and there  “next-level” cities are also expanding. These are Chandigarh in the Punjab, Pune, and Coimbatore. The income pattern of their citizens is becoming much higher than those of large metropolis: big store chains located in the malls, in fact, claim that the biggest growth of their businesses is coming from the “next-level” cities rather than the big metropolis.

Thus, India is a growing country that will offer progressively more opportunities in the future. 


Who are the modern Indian consumers? What are the key factors that they consider when making purchasing decisions?

In the past years, there has been a strong evolution of the mindset of Indian consumers.

Today’s Indian consumer can be identified as a “free spirit”; someone who is well-educated, with a good income, and a frequent traveler. By travelling all around the world, he/she come across and experienced different international brands, which influenced his/her style.

Moreover, what has changed the most is the fact that, nowadays, Indian consumers no longer associate foreign brands with the stereotyped label of higher quality. They are proud of their own heritage and culture and often purchase local products.

As an example, when entering India L’Oreal mistakenly tried to export its own feminine beauty standards featuring models in western dresses and makeup and as a result, local women had difficulties relating to the brand.

Additionally, when L’Oreal asked Aishwarya Rai, one of the most loved Indian actresses, to wear a French gown at Cannes, there was a huge social media backlash as the public felt that the actress was ashamed of her own origins by not wearing a Saree (Indian traditional dress) to such an important occasion.

Instead, a good example of cultural adaptation was set by the Spanish producer of fine ceramics, Lladro which has introduced an exclusive line for India featuring the Indian God of Good Luck, Ganesh. The line was so successful that customers were signing up for a 6 months waiting list.

Indian consumers are also becoming more aware thanks to the increasing digitisation; consumers are now more familiar with what’s available, what’s on-trend, what’s new, what are the product benefits, and more importantly, what are the brand’s benefits.

Thus, there is a complete change in the retail scenario, income scenario as well as consumers’ profiles in India. 


What is currently missing in the Indian retail scene and what are the opportunities available?

India offers many opportunities. For instance, India is the only country in the world that has only a few cosmetic brands: all the luxury brands account only for  3-4% of the market share. Aside from the luxury brands, there are only 4 or 5 masstige brands. Even more surprising, there is only one low masstige brand on the Indian market, Lakme, suggesting opportunities for mid-range brands.

India is also lacking education within the retail sector: shop assistants often do not have the necessary training to effectively serve customers. There is a great demand for international companies to set up training centers to educate and train retail staff on storytelling and customer service.

What does it take for a brand to be successful in India?

A key element that international brands have to consider when positioning themselves in the Indian market is to value the Indian culture and heritage and try to stay “neutral”, rather than pushing foreign beauty/fashion standards.

One of the greatest examples of best-performing brands in India is MAC. The company did not bring any western model or foreign values to India. The company prides itself for being a makeup artist brand and follows the same philosophy in every country. Additionally, They do not only use colours that are trendy at the Milan or Paris Fashion Weeks, but instead their products are characterised by diversified shades and colours which are appealing to the local market. 

Lastly, MAC makeup artists do not sell the products themselves, they rather show how to use and mix them to highlight the features of the customer, rather than pushing any beauty standards. 

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