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Upper crust: Exclusive sites for the super-rich

Last updated on: June 4, 2012 13:02 IST

Upper crust: Exclusive sites for the super-rich

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M Saraswathy, Katya B Naidu in Mumbai

Chaiti Narula, a television professional, does not buy shoes and clothes online. She would rather walk into Palladium, a high-end mall in South Mumbai.

But for everything else, she wouldn't mind shopping online, that too for stuff not available in India, such as skating gear from Canada, passes for Singapore salsa congress, theatre tickets for her London trip and racing hats, among others.

If you are like Narula and wouldn't mind a champagne bottle for Rs 60,000 or a 30-minute luxury helicopter flight over Bangalore with a red carpet welcome, costing Rs 1.5 lakh, then there are sites meant just for you.

To cater to increased online spending especially for unusual products and services, websites like Excluzen.com, Elite Matrimony and Purple Swan have cropped to cater to this niche audience. The site retails such luxury for the connoisseur.

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Photographs: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

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"Our target is anyone with an eye for the finer experiences in life," said Anupam Sahay, co-founder of Excluzen.com. Some of the finer experiences which are sold online are Rs 60,000 champagne bottles, Rs 18,000 facial, and many other products like "Bollywood diet" which are expensive.

Sahay claims that this market is expanding at an extraordinary rate. "It's just at the cusp of what's already happened in places in Asia like Thailand, Indonesia, and China where this market has exploded.

In China the market is over $40 billion, so it the start of a very large wave as India progresses to get more affluent and more open," he said.

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Photographs: Reuters

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Even as the websites sell various products and services, the theme remains luxury, without mixing them with other mass-based websites. "We want to own this space of luxury and special experiences," maintains Sahay.

Sahay's website sells anything from a Rs 3.5 lakh luxury spa package in Kerala to a Rs 6,300 worth experience of being a chief in a top restaurant in Bangalore.

Some of the other unique offerings include an Indian street shopping experience for 8 hours of shopping including a personal shopping guide for Rs 19,300 and seabreeze sailing for two in Mumbai at Rs 87,151. One can buy the product/service or even gift it to their friends and relatives.

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Photographs: Robert Galbraith/Reuters
Tags: , Bangalore , Kerala

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Purple Swarms is yet another such selling service which has claimed to have sold products from yachts, air charters, property, expensive modular kitchens, hi-tech home security systems and even imported massage chairs.

Nikunj Bubna, director at Purpleswarms, says they have to remain exclusive and cater only to a limited population.

"Personalised services make people feel privileged. If there is no entry barrier, people do not aspire for it," said Bubna, calling it the "neighbour's envy, owner's pride" syndrome.

He said the rich also wants huge discounts for which they have to build a network of vendors. The discounts which they will be able to provide, is otherwise not possible for a mass market.

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Photographs: Charles Platiau/Reuters

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"They would not want to give these kind of discounts to everyone," said Bubna. Some of Purple Swarms' clients include CEOs and millionaires.

Some popular websites are also launching premium versions to cater to consumers who prefer exclusivity. Bharat Matrimony, the matrimony portal for example has a sister concern, Elite Matrimony, for high net-worth individuals.

For being a part of this matrimony portal, one needs to have a net worth of Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million) and above.

"The rich needed a matrimony portal to match their status and the choice was very limited in the market. That is when we decided to start this portal," said Murugavel Janakiraman, the portal's founder.

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Photographs: Johannes Eisele/Reuters

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He added these clients have specific needs and privacy issues. The portal's list of clients include A-list celebrities and corporates of India. And not any Tom, Dick and Harry can register and become a member of the portal.

Each request sent to the portal is reviewed and a relationship manager is sent to meet the person and only then he/she becomes a member.

"We are happy with the response. The portal has hundreds of clients seeking a life partner. We have already helped many find their prospective bride or groom. As long as they are happy, we are happy," concludes Janakiraman.




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