DLF Emporio is a name to reckon with in the evergrowing luxury retail space in India and the credit for its successful journey, spanning 10 years, goes to Dinaz Madhukar – a stalwart in the hospitality sector in India.
Madhukar has over 24 years of operational experience with The Taj Group of Hotels, India’s largest luxury hospitality chain, as General Manager where she led multiple functions. Currently, she is responsible for providing executive leadership and management of DLF’s Vasant Kunj Retail Complex including DLF Emporio and DLF Restaurants – including the iconic Set’z. In addition to this, she is responsible for the management of DLF’s hospitality vertical, which includes The Lodhi. She also looks after the brand’s spanking new luxury addition to the capital – The Chanakya.
Sharing the secret recipe of success, Dinaz Madhukar’s, EVP, DLF Luxury Retail & Hospitality says, “Luxury, in its very essence, thrives on exclusivity and personalized experiences. Technology, has proven to be a strong ally for the luxury brands and engagement with the audience has become more direct. We use the social and digital media to introduce disruptive content and creative campaigns to connect with our patrons, which leads to a direct impact on footfalls and sales.”
In an exclusive interview with Shopping Centre News, Madhukar talks about the journey of DLF Emporio over the past 10 years, the challenges, expansion plans and the future of luxury malls in India.
DLF Emporio has successfully completed 10 years of operations. Tell us about the journey been so far?
When DLF Emporio started operations in Delhi in 2008, there was no antecedence on how to do it right. At that time no other real estate brand had forayed into the luxury retail terrain. For DLF Emporio, therefore, there was neither an example nor a benchmark; however, ten years of successful operations undoubtedly is a coup for the brand.
In many ways, DLF Emporio remains a case study for the luxury retail spaces, across India. The mall is today globally synonymous with Indian luxury retail and has been catalytic in putting India back on the global luxury retail map. The Indian luxury retail trail, begins with DLF Emporio and goes on to set higher expectations for their next luxury project, The Chanakya. This young one-year-old property is wisely curated given its compact nature and is poised to cater to the niche and discerning young and mature digitally savvy audiences.
What, according to you, are the key elements that determined the success of DLF Emporio?
The success of every business depends on understanding the pulse of your customers and pre-empting and adapting to the change in dynamics of the everevolving market space.
DLF Emporio has been very cognizant of creating bespoke customer and retailer experiences in keeping with aggressive marketing and promotion plans of its retail partners, and I think keeping pace with and supporting the marketing needs of each retailer and guest, is what has worked for us.
The marriage of hospitality services with luxury retail has been key to best attend the needs of both the retail partner and our guests.
If you were to look at the annual brand properties created by DLF Emporio right from the luxury shopping festival, to couture weddings, down to the shopping fiesta, every event property is focused at addressing and pushing targeted business goals of our retail partners, while showcasing the best of luxury fashion and hospitality to our loyal customer base. The idea is to continually support both our retail and customer audiences with winning propositions for each.
In the past 10 years, how have you seen the fashion luxury market evolving in India?
The Indian luxury retail industry has been on a growth trajectory ever since we opened our doors in 2008. We have actually seen the customers’ taste maturing over the years. When the luxury brands came into India it was more of a sellers’ market; however, today we see a conscious buyers’ market where subtlety and self-astuteness guide govern purchase behaviour. Our guests have always veered towards quality and craftsmanship, and today you will see a significant acceptance and slant towards bespoke merchandise and limited-edition products. The guests today adhere to the ‘less is more’ adage when it comes to investing in luxury.
India has always been a great purveyor of luxury. The initial luxury patrons were the royalty and today the most decadent luxury products are consumed by not just HNI’s but also top CXO’s, young, mature and astute entrepreneurs. We have also seen the emergence of the young start-up communities egging their ways into the Unicorn universe; these are also voracious consumers of luxury.
The trend now is slowly shifting from product and brand focused luxury to experiential luxury consumption. You do see brands reflecting this shift with their new verticals and product innovations. Earlier, technology was restricted to corporate corridors in the silicon valleys, however, technological disruptions are now becoming a norm across luxury brands. These tech-luxe disruptions are focused on capturing eyeballs and mind space of the more assertive, highly demanding and seriously articulate, young Millennials, who live their lives on, and consumer information on virtual and social mediums.
How has the brand mix at the mall changed over the years?
The brand mix has remained broadly the same. In fact, we have had to request some brands to give back some proportion of their spaces to us in order to pave room for new brands. As the market and the consumer evolved, we have seen an epic change in the kind of ranges and products that the brands started introducing in the mall.
Monograms have made way for subtle luxury, and limited editions are becoming more coveted. The propensity to own, gave way to the intent to own curated, one-of-a-kind, products.
What are the new brands that you are introducing this year?
We have already introduced first-comers of luxury in India, including names like Berluti and Molton Brown. Polo by Ralph Lauren has also launched its store at DLF Emporio. We have added a global luxury porcelain art creator like Lladro to our brand mix, which makes the DLF Emporio luxury retail proposition even more exciting. India will continue to be a lucrative market for global luxury brands given its discerning customer mix and penchant for curated luxury.
Do you see luxury shopping in India evolving in the future?
2018 is turning out to be a massive year in the world of luxury retail in India. The retail industry has depicted a future forward and a very positive growth, and we see this trend continuing. Luxury is no longer the bastion of a few but fast becoming the remit of the successful first-generation entrepreneurs, the affluent corporate and the young and the aggressive successful start-up landscape.
Older brand narratives are finding vibrant new platforms. Brands are re-inventing storytelling and showcasing disruptive innovations. The luxury shopper is now, an ever-expanding universe with audiences across various luxury access points, looking to fulfil varied and differentiated needs. You will now see a more exuberant and new age evolution of the luxury retail sector with global brands jostling for consumer’s minds space and share of wallet.
And what steps are you taking to keep consumers coming to DLF Emporio for the next ten years?
DLF Emporio has always been a forerunner in the luxury retail sector. We were the first to foray into luxury retail, and we have been agile enough to keep on top of our game. A decade is a long time, and we have successfully completed our milestone, replete with challenges, learnings and substantial deep dives into our customer’s buying behaviours and mindsets.
For any brand to stay relevant it must appeal to the core interests of its customers and guests. We have kept the brands more than relevant, by offering unique experiences, the best in luxury brand offerings and superlative service experiences in a genuinely luxurious environment. We are committed to elevating our customer and brand experience with many more luxury retail disruptions in the near future.