September 4, 2009 / 8:16 AM / 9 years ago

Buy art via SMS, jeans on installments in India

MUMBAI (Reuters Life!) - Some retailers in India are using convenience and technology to woo shoppers, whose enthusiasm appears to have been dimmed by the economic downturn and an impending drought.

Levi Strauss & Co, maker of the iconic 501 jeans brand, has introduced an installment plan, by which shoppers paying for their purchase with a credit card can choose to pay the sum in three equal parts over three months at no extra charge.

The scheme, which is being rolled out in nine big cities in India during the busy festival shopping season, will help introduce the brand to new users, and enable loyal customers to buy more jeans, said marketing director Shyam Sukhramani.

With more than half its population below the age of 25 years, India is a key market for global apparel makers such as Levi Strauss, which is seeing softer sales in western markets.

The maker of Docker’s khakis is also, like other western brands in India, trying to localize its products, with a new line of jeans being planned with reputed designer Tarun Tahiliani, which will also be made available through the installment plan.

“While the reasons behind wanting to access the value and convenience may be different for different people, the underlying calls-to-action are the same,” Sukhramani said.

That is also the rationale for a new mobile application at art auctioneer Saffronart, that allows patrons to bid for art and fine jewelry through a text message.

A volatile stock market and a softer real estate market have taken some wind out of the booming art scene, but interest in the old masters is still keen, and Saffronart hopes to bring in new enthusiasts with the help of technology.

The application, which chief executive Dinesh Vazirani claims is a first for a fine-art auctioneer, allows collectors to preview sales, make bids and view auction results.

The application can be used for Saffronart’s upcoming autumn auction of 95 works by modern and contemporary Indian artists including Akbar Padamsee, Subodh Gupta, Surendran Nair, S.H. Raza and Manjit Bawa, estimated at bringing in about $4.5 million.

“This application enables collectors to engage with us in more places and with fewer boundaries,” said Vazirani.

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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