The Lodha Group is a real estate developer known for its distinctive residential properties in far-flung suburbs like Kanjurmarg, Dahisar and Dombivali. In February 2012 the Lodhas, who also build luxury homes in downtown Mumbai, took another step to cater to the well-heeled with upscale value-additions. They turned to international style icon Giorgio Armani to design residences and the common spaces for ‘The World Towers’, the group’s landmark project in central Mumbai. A year before, the Lodhas had roped in London-based fashion and interior designer Jade Jagger when developing the Lodha Fiorenza in the suburb of Goregaon.
Blend fashion and the promise of the high life (think sky villas and lavish sundecks) with brick-and-mortar and you have a residential project that’s elite, chic — and homes that only the superrich can afford. “The benefit of such partnerships is that it reduces the replicability of the product in the market,” says R Karthik, chief marketing officer of the Lodha Group. Karthik adds that apart from location, a designer name attached to a property makes it a great value-add.
Welcome to the exclusive world of high net-worth individuals (HNIs), a universe that the providers of products and services for India’s ample middle class is gravitating towards. From builders and banks to travel companies, beauty & wellness brands and online matrimony sites, a clutch of mass-market focused brands is wooing the superrich with specialised offerings that only the fattest of cheques can buy.
After having served individual communities, when Murugavel Janakiraman, founder & CEO of Bharat Matrimony, was looking for the next big business idea, he found that opportunity in the bulge-bracket HNI segment. In 2008, Janakiraman started Elite Matrimony, a service for the rich and affluent. “These individuals don’t have time for themselves. Through this service we assign them a personal assistant to help them identify their ideal match.” Elite Matrimony has brought together 240 couples over the last eight months. This membership fee for this by-invitation-only service goes up to Rs 4 lakh for a three month period.
HNIs are a small but growing tribe in India. According to a recent joint report by Kotak Wealth Management and Crisil Research titled, ‘Top of the Pyramid,’ the total net worth of Indian ultra HNI households is expected to reach Rs 235,00,00 crore in 2015-16, up from an estimated Rs 45,00,000 crore in 2010-11. And taking into consideration a minimum net worth of Rs 25 crore, India had 62,000 such ultra HNIs in 2010-11, which is poised to more than triple to 219,000 households by 2015-16.
The Kotak-Crisil report classifies the wealthy as ‘inheritors’, ‘self-made’ and ‘professionals’. And one thing common to all three is the taste for the finer things in life. While money is not an issue for these Richie Riches, the challenge for marketers wooing them is to make themselves relevant to this consumer set.
Kaya Skin Clinic, which offers everything from hair loss treatments to laser hair removal to aspiring Indians with disposable income to spend, has run a few steps ahead with the Kaya Smiles programme that is targeted at HNIs. “We identify HNIs based on parameters like the frequency of their visit and the value of the service they opt for,” says Suvodeep Das, marketing head, Kaya. It’s been three years since Kaya has started engaging with HNIs and today about a third of its revenues come from the super-affluent group.
Travel company Kuoni refers to HNIs as luxury travellers. And according to Vishal Suri, deputy COO in charge of operating tours for Kuoni India, this traveller is typically an individual of 35 years or above, reasonably well-travelled, sophisticated, and who is looking to at least two weeks of international travel. “These customers are looking for a personalised touch to their travel needs, and for customised solutions. They do not need much advice on where to travel and what to see, but would like someone to help them organise it,” says Suri. Some forms of luxury holidays that Kuoni offers are private journeys that include wine tasting, ski plane flights, castle tours and truffle-hunting among others. Rajmohan Krishnan, EVP & Head- North & South, Kotak Wealth Management Says: “HNIs are very different from the masses. They have great brand affinity and understand the value of brands.”
tricky thing. While Elite Matrimony and Lodha Group still rely on mass media to reach their target group, Kaya and Kuoni are tapping this segment of customers through various alliances. Kuoni partners with banks and premier clubs in metro cities for customer acquisition. “We do lot of brand alliances through polo events, golf events, art gallery events, food festivals and sailing regatta,” says Suri. Besides mass media, Lodha lays emphasis on creating an experience for these customers when they come to see their property. From show reels that showcase the properties to building elaborate sales offices, Lodha has spruced up its points of sale to appeal to the uber rich. And yet, with the highly affluent getting jaded by or taking for granted ever new experience, the great challenge for the brands that wish to target them is to find new ways of staying relevant and interesting.
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