Sanjana Chauhan: Million Dollar Advice

When Sanjana Chauhan, former head of marketing for DLF Emporio, left her job to move with her husband to New York, some of the brands and designers she’d worked with in the New Delhi luxury mall suggested she continue working with them as a consultant for their India operations. And that’s how LuxuryNext, a consultancy service for international luxury brands looking to set up shop in India and vice versa, was born.

Chauhan, who had earlier spent about 10 years in New York where she also did her MBA in international marketing, worked with brands like Villeroy & Boch and Louis Vuitton in India before joining DLF Emporio. Born in Indore to an Army officer, Chauhan completed 12 years of her education from nine different states in India. “All this moving around has made me extremely flexible and open to meeting new people and to accepting new ideas,” she says of her business approach. Her company now works with brands in India, US and Europe, from finding the right local partner, helping them with their PR and launch plans, to marketing and sales expansion later on. Clients include Couture Rani, a unique trunk show in New York, and two Italian business houses to be launched in India this summer.

“Most brands face the challenge of locating the appropriate space to open a luxury brand store,” the 38-year-old says of the Indian luxury market. “India is a complex market and the luxury customer in every city is different so a business partner who understands all these nuances is critical for a brand to succeed. There have been too many examples of brands retreating from India due to not understanding the market and a partnership gone sour. And most importantly, luxury retail specialists are a must. In the past, brands hired professionals from the luxury hotel industry as there were no retail professionals in India. This has changed in the past two to three years with retail schools and retail training growing.”

In addition to their consulting work, the LuxuryNext Blog goes beyond the glamour and the glitz to explore the business of luxury. “From strategies used by the luxury brands to reach to newer customers and retain the old ones, to the latest trends and innovations, we cover the entire gamut of the luxury business. We also present guest blogs by industry spokespersons, the people whose very words are considered gospel in the industry,” says Chauhan, who is mother to a 15-month-old daughter and an avid painter. Her latest passion, she says, is social media: “I think it’s going to change and is already changing not just the way we do business but also the way we interact in our social and personal lives.”

She is also vocal about the huge scope that Indian luxury brands have in going global. “What they need first and foremost is branding – creating a unique and a distinct identity. India and Indian brands understand luxury and have known it for years, but they have not been able to brand themselves or to create a distinct identity for themselves. Some brands like Kama Ayurveda and Forest Essentials have done this successfully within a span for few years. They have taken the ancient science of and heritage associated with Ayurveda and marketed it beautifully in international markets. Many other Indian luxury brands in different categories have the potential to do the same,” she says. Million-dollar words, indeed.

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