‘India will see huge upsurge in urbanisation’

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New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) The process of urbanisation has ended in the US and Europe, while India will see a huge upsurge in urbanisation, says Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India).

During a session at The Taj Luxury Symposium 2017 here on Friday, Kant said luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes are doing well in the country.

Talking about digital platforms transforming luxury, he said: “Digital technology is going to bring a lot of immersive virtual reality and that is going to create a vast amount of unique experiences.

“There will be a huge amount of intersection between art and creativity, that will ensure that many of our weavers in rural areas will be able to reach the market points.

“This will happen because India will sees a huge upsurge in terms of e-commerce. India will see 300 per cent growth in the next four to five years in terms of e-commerce transaction.”

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Kant said that an e-commerce company needs to spread out and get into rural areas where there is a huge strength.

“If you look at the growth of Amazon or Flipkart, it’s like Alibaba in China… The ability to source great products from rural areas and enable them to be consumed in urban areas,” he added.

He feels that the process of urbanisation has ended in the US and Europe.

“It’s nearing its completion in China. In India, it has just begun. India will see a huge upsurge in urbanisation. The second thing is the middle class is moving to the upper end of the market. India is creating a huge middle class.”

And the middle class, he says, is essentially an aspirational class.

“If you look at UK, the latest cars, perfumes and jewellery… The consumption boom was driven by the aspirational middle class. That is what is going to happen to India in the coming years and that will be driven digitally,” said Kant.

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In fact, physical banking in India will be dead in the next five years, he says.

“Physical banks and infrastructure will be so expensive.”

But Umang Bedi, Managing Director – India and South Asia at Facebook, feels that luxury brands are yet to build digital commerce strategy.

“It will take them sometime,” he said.

Samrath Bedi, Executive Director, Forest Essentials India, says millennials are very demanding and tough consumers.

“The consumer is looking for a real story and looks beyond packaging. They want to know how the product is made, where it is made,” Bedi said.

Suman Billa, the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, spoke about how experiences are the new collectibles.

“Today, people seek experiences. There are some set of people who go every year to Kerala to look at the elephants,” he said.

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He pointed out that India generally gets two types of travellers — high-end travellers who are chauffeur-driven and then there are the backpackers.

“We are completely missing out on the middle one… People who would like to stay in a hotel for $100 for a night,” said Billa, who also said that now there are electronic visas, helpline numbers and sim cards are given to travellers for smooth stay in the country.

Hotels are also doing their bit.

Chinmai Sharma, Chief Revenue Officer at Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris, added that during business trips, the focus is on meetings, but during personal travel they are more discerning. “So we need to cook up experiences and give the ability to live like a local.”



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