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Home decor business gets an Insta makeover

ByShuchi Bansal
Apr 21, 2023 12:42 AM IST

With higher disposable incomes, new-found connection to their homes, and a willingness to refresh them, consumers are seeking high-quality options. Earlier, people showed off their dwellings only by inviting people home. Now all they need to do is put pictures and videos on social media to let everyone know what is inside their homes

Recently, the Italian fashion brand, United Colors of Benetton, announced the launch of its home collection in India, starting with bath products followed by bedroom, kitchen and tabletop products under Casa Benetton. Apparel retailers Marks & Spencer and H&M too had launched their home and lifestyle range like dinnerware, glassware, bedsheets, towels, décor items and much else a year ago. To expand its business, DesignCafe, a seven-year-old startup for home interiors, raised 40 crore last month, led by private equity fund WestBridge Capital.

People are buying everything from furniture to home and decor within the comfort of their homes

What connects these developments is the rapidly growing craze among Indian consumers to do up their homes. Even though the fad was seeded during Covid-induced lockdowns when people were forced to spend months at home, it seems to be in full bloom now with new brands – both homegrown and foreign, offline and online -- rushing in to set shop and the older ones expanding their footprint to cater to different consumer segments. Even the homegrown ethnic wear brand Fabindia now draws 30% of its business from non-apparel such as home and lifestyle.

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Harminder Sahni, founder and managing director at Wazir Advisors, a consulting firm for consumer goods, retail, textiles and agri businesses, says Indian consumers are loosening their purse strings to make their homes look better. “People became more intimate with their homes when they were confined indoors,” he says, a sentiment echoed by Gita Ramanan, co-founder, DesignCafe. “Pandemic made people focus on every room and at a scale which hasn’t been seen before.” Earlier, the company had to push its services to consumers but now the demand is coming from them, says Ramanan.

Ritesh Mishra, MD, Marks & Spencer Reliance India Pvt Ltd, too credits the pandemic for pushing consumers to rethink their home environment but he goes on to add that with increased internet consumption and social media usage, consumers exposed to global trends have developed a sense of aesthetics that reflects their personality. They are keen to weave that back into their living spaces, he says.

With higher disposable incomes, new-found connection to their homes, and a willingness to refresh them, consumers are seeking high-quality options, Mishra says. Marks & Spencer retails its bed, bath, dining and décor range through its stores as well as online through marketplaces like Myntra and Ajio.

Ramanan says the minuscule sub category of home décor will scale because the middle-class consumers are now driving the trend of maintaining Instagrammable homes. The desire for owning good looking homes has percolated down from the affluent classes. “That’s why you see both Indian and foreign brands launching home collections. Buying a rug or changing curtains to be on trend, wasn’t really an Indian thing. But that has changed,” she says.

Cushions, fragrances, decorative lighting are ideas ingrained in middle class consumers too, says Ramanan. Her DesignCafe which offers fixed modular furniture solutions spotted an opportunity in the large middle-class market and launched an affordable sub brand Qarpentri some months ago for the value conscious consumer.

A spokesperson for CASA Benetton, Italy, says the company launched its home collection in India as it saw disposable incomes rise among the middle and upper middle classes coupled with a visible change in lifestyle. “The buying power dynamics have changed from mothers being the primary buyer for

homeware to every member of the house who now gets a say in how they want to furnish their room. With this shift, India has become one of the biggest markets for homeware,” the spokesperson says. Benetton has launched its collection in association with Bergner Group.

Home and lifestyle products market in India is still in its infancy and has a significant runway for growth. “Earlier, people showed off their dwellings only by inviting people home. Now all they need to do is put pictures and videos on social media to let everyone know what is inside their homes,” says Sahni.

He cites his own example to buttress the point. “Before the work-from-home official Zoom calls nobody had seen my study which I have had for 20 years. During the pandemic all the clients saw my study. And I would change the painting behind me occasionally so that I do not appear out-of-date,” he laughs.

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