The Pandemic and The Luxury of Response-Ability

The Pandemic and The Luxury of Response-Ability

This is a strategy document. A white paper for those who script, act, direct and intersect in the theatre of retail and luxury in India. Who design products and distill distinct experiences for India. For brands which trade in India and for those which are imagined, birthed and made here. For strategists and business heads who search for nuances to keep the arch between the socio-cultural and the commercial alive. For creators who respond to needs and those who respond to desires.

The Atlas of Affluence (AOA) 2022, is the first such wide and deep white paper from India that dissects consumer behaviour studied through the prism of luxury. The study was formulated over the last several months through scientifically designed consumer research across six cities to understand metro and non-metro differences among buyers, brands and behavioural ideas behind consumption.

The other sections of this white paper move beyond luxury as a product to explore granularities of affluence.

Affluence is economically defined as an abundance of money and material goods, and often used interchangeably for “wealth”. Yet, not every luxury-buying individual ends up joining the economic elite of the country. In this case, luxury and affluence were not assumed as synonyms while commissioning the research. Nor does the analysis based on the findings mix up the two. If buying luxury and its aspiration was the prism of quantitative research, the idea of affluence was probed in qualitative interviews.


This study uses the time graph of “pre-pandemic” and “post-pandemic” months to specify a comparative matrix. But it also helps debunk or corroborate long-held ideas about what affluence and luxury have meant to Indians. Why we buy, where would we rather buy and what do we eventually seek from it. Does the logo matter, does brand legacy have meaning, is it about trends or is the chase more personal? How did the pandemic exactly alter mindsets, if it recast the value of money?

As AOA reveals, for an evolved luxury market to form a Venn diagram with affluence, the skew must be towards planet-first, pro-people affirmations. Among the top takeaways of this study are individuality and self-expression, to assert which, consumers use brands, trends, shopping and styling ideas.

The digitalisation of luxury and retail across the world among dozens of other, never-before factors has ostensibly rewired consumerism. If technology led innovation in design, marketing re-invented its wheel. Luxury came home (and not always through a device) as our relationships with home spaces opened doors to ourselves.

The findings here carouse around some clichés, but overall, this book includes many inflection points. Besides data and statistics drawn from primary research done exclusively for AOA 2022, there are references to other credible data sources, cross checked, acknowledged and stacked with existent secondary research.

Beyond business strategy and numbers there is a series of sharp columns, interviews, ground reports, intelligently argued stories on architecture, personal style, the ascendance of India in South Asian design and global luxury, the emergence of the gold collar consumer and the growing market for beauty and wellness. This study is a consortium, a melting pot of topical, relevant, ready-to-use creative and commercial insights. The executive summary uses phrases that may not be characteristic of business documents; it also uses anecdotes, instances and names.


Among the top takeaways of this study are individuality and self-expression, to assert which, consumers use brands, trends, shopping and styling ideas.

According to AOA 2022, it is high time that each pit stop and person—from the designer and CEO to the store manager, the store itself as a physical entity, marketing teams and sustainability officers, uses refreshed and updated narratives to sell while making sense. The discovery of new centres of wealth in India and the era of Man-Affluence—the male shopper “sneaker-ing” up the road not taken find cadence here.

Intriguingly, like the finest luxurious inner lining of an extraordinary garment that can be seen and felt only by the wearer, affluence has a reflective, inner side. This sagacity echoes across voices of luxury leaders represented here from India and abroad. It is about altruism minus deprivation, about leadership that listens, wealth that does not eclipse the rights of the planet. An affluent home is not about the most expensive floors and shiniest fittings but a sanctuary for personal and generational evolution.

With this first edition, the Atlas of Affluence is set to become an annual feature. Besides a yearly study examined from various vantage points, AOA will evolve as a series of market related deep dives to appear periodically. See the last page of the book for what’s next on the table.

So long then.

Shefalee Vasudev
Project Director and Editor,
Atlas of Affluence 2022