Glyn is Associate Professor at Burgundy School of Business in France. His is a luxury marketing specialist and co-editor of The Luxury Marketing in India: Maharajas to Masses (Palgrave Macmillan). Glyn can be contacted at: [email protected]
India has been a source of global inspiration for centuries. The cultural and vibrant diversity of India is still an influence for many international luxury and lifestyle brands. In fact, India’s influence on the global stage has never been so strong. What is so special about India? It is The Indian Touch that is own-able by India only and can not be easily imitated. It is a distinctive and subtle artistic flair that has widespread appeal in the western world. Following are my top 7 ways of how The Indian Touch has left an impression on international luxury and lifestyle brands.
The charm and fantasy of Bollywood has captured the imagination of the Western world. Bollywood stars are able to characterise a sense of élan that is aspirational in the Western world. There is no better example than the current global advertising campaign for Tissot. Deepika Padukone is a brand ambassador for the Swiss watch brand that is able to convey a very real feeling of feminine substance.
Western fashion designers are turning to India for creative inspiration, whether this is for patterns, colours, textures, design or craftsmanship. India’s legacy has become a bold statement through Western designers who are creating a fusion of Western and Eastern influences. This was recently exemplified in Karl Lagerfeld’s emphatic pre-fall 2012 collection for Chanel, the Paris-Bombay Métiers d’Art show.
The distinctive scents of India have been recognised as an inspiration for exquisite fragrances. One example is Hermès Un Jardin Apres La Mousson, but my favourite is Christian Dior Escale à Pondichéry, which uses jasmine, sandalwood, cardamon and even black tea accords that create an exotic sensory experience.
However, it seems that Indian scents and flavours have also found a mainstream following. Starbucks offers a range of chai tea products that blends the spices of ginger, cardamom, star anise, cloves and cinnamon.
Intense to subtle, colour has always been a defining inspiration for western brands from fashion, to beauty, to jewellery. A recently launched fragrance Jaipur Bracelet was inspired by the subtle romance associated with the Pink City.
Likewise, Clarins introduced a Colour Quartet and Liner Palette that, according to its website “takes you on a journey to India, with its luminous colours and motifs inspired by traditional saris”.
The philosophy of harmony and well-being has been a defining feature of Indian life for centuries. Now, western beauty brands have extended their ranges to include Ayurveda products. However, it is Aveda that has clearly leveraged its association with this 5,000 year old Indian healing tradition that includes a range of Ayurveda beauty products such as Avita hair care range. There are also now Aveda Experience Centres, which offer a more intense experience.
India’s passion for celebration whether weddings, Holi or Diwali is a well-known phenomenon. This is now being embraced by international brands to create an aura of festivity that is out of the ordinary. Back in 2010, all of 454 Louis Vuitton’s stores were showcased with Diwali themes window displays. India’s influence and identity is not local, or even regional, but truly global.
Luxury in India has always been associated with the royal dynasty of Maharajas. Whether it was the Rajputs of Rajasthan, or the Nizams of Hyderabad, luxury was at home with the ruling elite. This era of royal patronage has now become a feature of international brands. Cartier’s Inde Mysterieuse collection is a tribute to the relationship between the maison and the Maharajas.
The Indian Touch has reached new boundaries, and will continue to offer international brands something special that they lack. This is less about giving brands an Indian identity, but more about saluting Indian culture. It is the Touch of India.