Market Insights: Interview with Manish Saksena - Lifestyle Specialist in India

Nov 09, 2021


How has the retail market changed in the past years and what are your predictions for the future?

Market-change-wise, the retail is now more organised in terms of point of sales: speciality stores business has become extremely important and with that, India is seeing a rise in destination stores and high-end designer stores. Many designers have taken over prestigious locations and have created a destination store of their own.

This means that the Indian retail market is now distributed into two different realities; while the high street is thriving, there is parallel malls-enlacement which has favoured the success of a lot of premium brands.

In terms of design, while there was a time when India would seek a lot of international designers, in the last four or five years, the people are experiencing more of a sense of pride in truly Indian design-end. Of course, Indian design itself has gone through an evolution and there is a certain amount of global fusion in that as well. But pure design in the most authentic form is something that people is truly beginning to appreciate. 

In terms of consumer expectations, given design, retail, and e-commerce, the consumer nowadays is certainly quite spoiled. But it is also clear that there are segments of consumers who are looking for different things. 

The vast majority of Indian consumers are middle class; that is the segment that is looking for the best price, end-season sales, and discounts. In addition to that, there is a segment of consumers that are not so price-sensitive. Perhaps they’re conscious but also delighted to pampered themselves some once in a while.

That given, there is 1/2% of Indian consumers which is extremely wealthy. That customer is becoming more and more conscious of quality. When they spend, their choices are now not merely dictated by design and aesthetics, but there is research and interest in what goes into the product and the quality of it. 

Will brick and mortar stores be relevant in the future?

The future, as of today, is quite unpredictable. But a trend now in India would be the so-called “revenge shopping”: there has been a strong sentiment of going out as soon as the lockdown was over, and the sales have seen a pickup at the malls and stores too. 

Lately, there has also been a growth in people buying from e-commerce, and everything is becoming more and more seamless between online and offline. Usually, it would have taken time for consumers to become versed with mixing the two things. Now the whole process has been speeded up, and offline and e-commerce are coexisting. 

Can an “e-commerce only” strategy work? 

From my experience, I have gathered that all medium and premium brands usually have a better direction. It is, in fact, easier for the customer to convert to the e-commerce of a well-known brand. There is a certain expectation and familiarity with the products. Unfortunately, I think it would take a longer time for people to convert to online shopping with unknown brands as well. There would still be a sort of hesitation. For a new brand, I think the offline experience would remain extremely critical, but e-commerce would be the second most important channel for sure.


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