India’s traditional bazaars have evolved into today’s high streets. At the same time, the perception of high streets being down-market is changing. They — particularly the prominent high streets — enjoy respectable positioning in the Indian retail scenario today.
A JLL research paper High Streets In Vogue — Always, which examines the character of 24 of the most popular high streets in India, confirms that high streets have successfully stood the test of time in India. These are markets that have created a unique selling proposition distinctly their own through constant evolution and, in many cases, catering to specific niche segments.
As a result, these high streets have managed to attract favour of not only local brands that operate in India but also national and international brands that would otherwise not consider venturing beyond posh mall interiors. In every city that report looked into, there are 2-4 high streets that have constantly evolved and managed to retain their reputation as important retailing destinations.
This is more than just an interesting market fact. A better understanding of the various Indian high streets — from their origins to their successful evolution over time — can help retailers refine their strategies and strengthen their presence in these markets. For instance, brands that seek volume growth may choose to have a store along the ‘transit-oriented’ high streets, while those more focused on effective brand positioning need to opt for the right ‘destination’ high streets.
As each high street has a unique selling proposition of its own in terms of product categories, neighbourhood and/or consumer perception, it is clearly appropriate and desirable to align a brand’s strategic positioning with the defining attributes of a particular high street.
In the years to come, the report foresees that their individual attributes will play a bigger role in changing the shape of each of these high streets. In fact, looking at the beginning of a great revolution in high streets across Indian cities, much in the manner that informal shopping centres have been making way for organised malls.
Irrespective of the challenges of high streets — largely external factors — individual landlords and retailers of these markets will see immense benefit in collaborative efforts towards improving the overall experience of shoppers that visit these markets. The scope for such collaboration is huge, and can include marketing activities, sales strategies, organising events, parking arrangements, etc.
In the next couple of years, we will see a thinning-down of variation between popular high streets and grade-B malls across the leading cities. Whether this will have a material impact on the business of Grade-B malls is something that bears close scrutiny.
The writer is managing director – retail services, JLL India.
The high roads:
Brigade Road (Bengaluru)
Brands hosted: KFC, Arrow, Puma, Nike, Pizza Hut
Linking Road (Mumbai)
Brands hosted: Adidas, Woodland, Park Avenue, Charles and Keith, Royal Enfield
Anna Nagar (Chennai)
Brands hosted: Tanishq, Sony, Louis Philippe, Adidas, Chroma
Banjara Hills (Hyderabad)
Brands hosted: Calvin Klein, Blackberry, Wills Lifestyle, Allen Solly, Raymonds
JM Road (Pune)
Brands hosted: Arrow, Pepe, Blackberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Louis Philippe
Park Street (Kolkata)
Brands hosted: KFC, Barista, Blackberry, Manyavar, Samsung