Career Focus

Shining prospects for luxury brand managers

According to a Euromonitor International report, India’s market for luxury products and services is expected to grow by 86 percent at constant prices between 2013-2018  Indra Gidwani

“The annual revenue generated by India’s prospering luxury goods and services providers is estimated at $14 billion (Rs.96,220 crore), and is likely to witness growth in all categories including automobiles, fashion, fine dining etc. With rising exposure and purchasing power at the top, India is a market that high-end international brands can’t ignore. As a growing number of luxury brands and services providers set up base in India, there are a host of career opportunities for managing and marketing exclusive brands,” says young Anuj Sawhney, the Gurgaon-based managing director of Swiss Military Worldwide (SMW), a premium lifestyle brand with a strong presence in 26 countries, which pitched tent in India five years ago.

According to Sawhney, India is the fastest growing market for luxury brands and is emerging as a “hot competitor” to China as the world’s largest market of high-end brands. According to a Euromonitor International report, India’s market for luxury products and services is expected to grow by 86 percent at constant prices between 2013-2018.

In turn, this has generated demand for professionally qualified and skilled luxury brand managers. A brand manager’s prime responsibility is to study the history and ethos of a brand and build it further, keeping client demand and preference in mind. Luxury brand managers are also required to establish and enhance brand equity globally.

Study Programmes

B-schools worldwide offer aspiring professionals education and training in this specialisation. Among the top-ranked B-schools and universities offering certification in luxury brand management are the Domus Academy, Milan; University of Monaco; ESSEC Business School, France and Singapore, and Gilon Institute of Higher Education, Switzerland. SDA Bocconi, Milan has also established an Indian branch named MISB Bocconi in Mumbai which offers luxury brand management courses. The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad in collaboration with IICD (Indian Institute of Crafts and Design) conducts a four-and-a-half-month certificate programme in luxury brand management for entrepreneurs and working professionals.

Pay & Progression

With the narrow, saturated markets of developed nations, particularly Europe offering few opportunities for expansion, emerging markets are the new growth centres for luxury products. Savvy marketing professionals are confronted with exciting career progression opportunities in India and abroad with even trainees starting off at Rs.20,000-40,000 per month plus perks and commissions. Experienced professionals with five-ten years’ experience can expect to earn Rs.6-12 lakh and Rs.14-22 lakh plus commissions respectively.

“Top managers of luxe brands that have been carefully nurtured over decades are scouting for new markets. With the entry of a new wave of upscale brands into the huge but diffused Indian marketplace, job opportunities for suave professionals with excellent social skills and specialist training are very promising,” opines Sawhney.

Professional Profile

An alum of Delhi’s premier Shri Ram College of Commerce with an MBA in brand marketing and operational logistics from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, USA, Sawhney signed up with Swiss Military Worldwide in 1998. Currently, SMW offers over 3,000 products in 12 product verticals including travel gear, watches, accessories among others.

In 2006, Sawhney was promoted to the office of managing director of Swiss Military Worldwide with the brief to expand the geographical scale and scope of the brand globally. Currently, he supervises the operations of SMW (annual revenue: $300 million or Rs.2,040 crore) in 26 countries.

Under Sawhney’s leadership, SMW has drawn up detailed plans to boost its presence in the Indian market. “We are increasing our visibility in the online space and in 800 multi-brand outlets in 102 cities. Moreover we have drawn up plans to establish 170 exclusive retail outlets in the next 18 months. We are also looking at extending our product verticals and introducing high-end accessories, garments, and home appliances into the Indian marketplace,” says Sawhney.

According to Sawhney, the luxury brands industry offers exciting and diverse skills development opportunities because brand managers supervise retail store layouts, visual merchandising, inventory management and most importantly brand promotions and communications. “For professionally trained luxury brand managers with drive, marketing and social skills, the future is very bright,” says Sawhney.