A backpack is a backpack. Not if you are selling it to Indian customers.
The size of the Indian backpack is nearly double the size of what travel gear brand, American Tourister sells anywhere around the world. Backpacks are used more as an overnighter bag, rather than as a day bag. The bigger the back pack the more things people put into it. In India the average size of backpacks has been increasing by 15 per cent every year. The largest back pack that’s made in India is of the same size as a cabin-sized luggage.
So the company also redesigned the shoulder strap. Most of the premium backpacks come with a suspension strap. When a customer wears the bag, it takes the load off the shoulder. That's also why there is a 6 mm cushioning at the back, compared to the global average of 3 mm in backpacks designed by the company.
"When we launched the category it was primarily international designs and international products. Today designers work on a range that’s exclusively for the Indian market. While the graphics and imprints are similar to what we sell around the world, the product in terms of the features are designed only for the Indian market," says Anushree Tainwala, executive director, marketing, Samsonite, South Asia.
Even things like the fabric, the stitching and the size of the back pack are Indianised. "The traditional fabrics used to make backpacks used to get dirty very quickly in Indian conditions," explains Tainwala. As dust is a big issue in India, that makes cleaning a backpack a cumbersome exercise. This year, the company has introduced a special coating on the fabric, so that the dust can be just wiped clean and the bag need not be washed frequently.
Then, backpacks are used by many in public transport and there is always the danger of a pickpocket opening your backpack in a crowded compartment. "Hence, the brand has introduced a hidden compartment in the lining of the bag. The customer can access it from the outside, but not anyone can access it, especially when a customer is travelling by public transport, as safety of the belongings is a big concern for consumers," says Tainwala.
Most backpacks sold in India come with a rain cover today. "That’s done only for the Indian market because of the deluge during the monsoons," says Tainwala.
Even with schoolbags, countries around the world are moving towards slimmer and slimmer backpacks as regulations are becoming stricter to reduce the size of backpacks. But schoolbags are also becoming bigger in India.
Also most schoolchildren in India carry lunchboxes along with the books. As most foods in India are gravy based, there is the danger of leakage spoiling the bag and the books. Hence American Tourister has introduced a special compartment within the backpack to store the lunchbox, that's insulated from the rest of the pack. Any spillage will be contained within the compartment hence cleaning the bag also becomes easy. Clearly, somethings come India first. Even Trump could approve of this.