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Eager to Build up a Vibrant, Lucrative Diamond & Jewellery Business ?
Here are the Success MANTRAS of Trail-blazers as Revealed to the Diamond World
By: Daisy Tanwani
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Mar 15 2008 5:18AM
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Reference: 2368  

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Diamonds are not forever! How many takers of this statement are there? Expectedly none, as diamonds have long been associated with perpetuity. If we trace the origin of this belief we realize that this universally accepted association is a result of one of the world’s strongest advertising campaigns ever by DeBeers that successfully convinced people around the globe that diamonds are forever, to an extent that this campaign became a virtual truth! Well, that shows the strength of strategic campaigning, branding. Daisy Tanwani gets into dialogue with notables of some big brands in the Indian precious market. The spectrum of opinions that emerges strikes a realization that marketing, branding and advertising activities are gradually getting their due importance.

Pervasive Marketing, Fundamental Modern Need:
Gautam Gulati of KIAH, Sheetal Group opens the dialogue with citing importance of marketing, “Marketing and advertising play a vital role in today’s changing business environment. These are important in order to gain customer confidence. Customer indecisiveness, skepticism, indifference, or confusion are among the top sale-killers in the business world. It's up to you to project an image of experience, quality, dependability, excellent customer service, and/or added value to your prospective customers in order to win their confidence. If you haven't clearly communicated the advantages and solid reasons for them to do business with you, then they'll be hesitant to commit and the sale will go to your competitor!”

Marketing has been prevalent for long; other industries have invested immense expertise in building successful demand driving strategies across decades. However, diamond and jewellery industry never woke up to the call of these until DeBeers strongly, almost compulsively recommended its Sightholders to invest considerably into marketing and advertising. Besides, it’s the need of the hour too. The average Indian consumer is more aware and educated than ever. Several factors like easily accessible higher education, exposure to international trends and most importantly increased disposable income have created a massive pool of customers that is yet to be tapped.

Changing lifestyle greatly follows with changing women. Certainly today’s Indian women is far more fashion and value-conscious than before. She is a perfect consumer for the precious sector provided she is convinced that her money is not going in vain. Interestingly, media has become a curtain-raiser to lovable trends and demands, even the remotest areas of the country are impacted by media. Suresh Subrahmanyan, Marketing Head of GANJAM says, “Marketing and branding are extremely important. In today’s market, retailers have realized the vital need to build a brand if they want to survive. In a segment like jewellery one can easily see how much is spent on jewellery ads for different brands across the country. The only reason is that brands want to approach their customers continuously with what they are offering. They want to communicate constantly and invest in a long term relationship through the message they give out using separate mediums. The entire process of engaging the consumer using the right mix of marketing and branding is palpably evident in every industry, given the dynamics of business in modern times. Marketing and branding are tools which go hand in hand to make this entire process effective and rewarding.”

India may be one of the world’s fastest growing economies, at the same time it is also a very dynamic place to conduct business in. Given such a scenario communicating the product powerfully becomes the primary requirements. However, Sunil Dattani of ANMOL thinks that marketing is required in any kind of a business environment, “Marketing and Advertising are very crucial even in a non-changing business environment. Though always related together – Marketing and Advertising have different meanings and functions. Marketing may involve advertising while advertising does not involve marketing. Even the best of companies and established brands have a dedicated budget allocated to these activities. Constant rubbing in by exclusive advertising is essential to establish a brand as well sustain it. Campaigns have proved to lure customers to buy the product/brand. Also, today’s consumer is educated and well-informed; hence it is very important to choose the correct medium of promotion.”

Ingredients of a Successful Model :
I wanted to look beyond pivotal topic of the story and gauge other factors that make for a successful business in the diamond and jewellery sector. The communicative businessmen suggested a variety of ingredients that constitute a perfect trade formula in retail as well as wholesale business. “I would say that talking from the product perspective; the two most important things are quality, in terms of materials you use to fabricate your products and the design philosophy, especially in a business like jewellery. Apart from that what is really important is a robust distribution network which enables your product to reach the target market and target audience. Building that network requires understanding of your brand and how you want to position it. It is a fine mix of all these ingredients which make for successful marketing of any brand, and definitely so for jewellery”, opines Subrahmanyan.

Understanding the customer and a responsive supply chain is of vital importance to Mehul Shah, MD, Fine Jewellery (India) Ltd. (NIRVANA). In the lifestyle and fashion segment, keeping abreast of the latest trends and design preferences is paramount to their success. Nirvana’s team of 40 designers travels across the globe to understand the latest trends and ever evolving consumer preferences. Latest innovations in the design elements provide the competitive edge, which is essential for continuous growth in the diamond and jewellery segments. They have been at the forefront of revolutionary design innovations like the Invisible, Pressure and patented ‘Mystere’ settings which has given them the ‘Design’ edge’.

Ajay Mitra, Managing Director, WGC (Indian Subcontinent) thinks a mix of ideas and factors impact a business, “Knowledge and insight in the consumer psyche, wide assortment of product range and designs, assured quality, courteous sales and efficient shop personnel, attractive and updated merchandise, consumer feedback and purchase tracking plan amongst others are important” while Vijay Jain, CEO, Orra emphasizes continuous innovation and ability to translate thoughts into action at the retail level.

“The jewellery market in India is booming. So one of the fundamental factors which leads to successful jewellery industry is jewellery designing. It is imperative to have exclusive designs in order to attract consumers regularly as they are basically looking for exquisite jewellery which stands out. Moreover, having extraordinary designs give a company an edge over others and helps consumers differentiate between various brands and choose the best suiting their requirements,” suggests Gulati.

Successful Branding & Marketing Tactics :
Coming back to the core of these revolutions I realize that branding and marketing are recent developments in the Indian jewellery sector. As numerous diamond jewellery brands have mushroomed lately, market consumption has also increased. Many diamond manufacturers and wholesalers have opted to venture into the retail path too. Kiah, Ishi, Damas, Asmi, Orra and Nirvana are few classic examples of brands that have directly branched from the diamond giants. Entities employ various strategies to create demand and capture the market share. Many Indian jewellery brands have roped in elaborate advertising agencies to promote their products while outsourcing expertise and professionalism in the area of marketing/branding/promotion is a common deal now. The World Gold Council, India engages top of the line agencies, like O&M for their advertising, Lin Opinion for Public Relations, Starcom for Media planning and buying. All this is to assist their partners to connect better with consumers.

Other innovative ways would include luring packaging, point of purchase promotions, discounts etc. Patented cuts, initially a trend that developed in western nations has now widely penetrated the Indian market too. Some international examples are the Belgian Sightholder Pluczenik Group that teamed up with the fashion house Escada to create the Escada diamond; Tiffany has also sold its Lucida diamond, Asprey & Garrard their Eternal Diamond, and William Goldberg its Ashoka Diamond. Geetanjali Group, Susashish Group, KP Sanghvi are some Indian names amongst others who have carved unique cuts. The race is to give the customer something unique which he can be proud. ORRA keeps its jewellery vibrant by continuously adding beautiful collections to its stock.

Right Communication at The Right Time :
Nirvana’s is a good example of sound marketing strategy and communication which have consciously evolved with the changes in the market. The brand preference at retail stores is highly influenced at the point of purchase. Thus in-store branding plays a crucial role in complementing the advertising across various mass mediums. Innovative promotions help in creating the buzz across retail stores. Thus an optimum mix of above the line and below the line activities needs to be used for an effective marketing and advertising promotion plan.

The promotion and marketing activities in the Indian diamond and jewellery sector may be accelerated and widespread today but they have emerged only lately as areas of attention tells Subrahmanyan., “The trend and dynamics of doing business have appreciably changed over the past decade or two. All respectable retailers understand that if they want to add value to the product they are selling, then they need to build a brand around that product. The consumer has to feel a sense of ownership with the brand. The desire to own a product can only be forged by creating a brand with which the consumer can identify himself. So branding has definitely influenced the world of business tremendously. In today’s world one has to create the aspiration in consumer’s mind so that he wants to own that particular product. One has to give the consumer something he really wants to own, and to create the urge that branding is extremely necessary.”

"Effective marketing is gaining the maximum SOW (share of wallet) by gaining a larger SOM (Share of mind) which in turn is derived from relevant SOV (Share of Voice)”, explains Gulati.

Zeroing on Brands :
Pin-pointing the importance and benefits of branding Vijay Jain of ORRA says, “Brands encompass the entire offer - product, service, experience. They are a benchmark for quality and thus, command a premium and loyalty. They are critical distinguishers in a competitive environment. Branding in jewellery has started galvanizing the industry - investment in product differentiation, service levels, brand experience and standardization in quality is on the upswing. Today, it has become very important to move beyond commodity which is merely product at a price.”

The yellow metal has been the top taste of the Indian subcontinent since ages but diamonds are a relatively newer savor. Therefore, people lack fine understanding of this costly gem. Similarly, a lot of synthetics are flowing into the gems industry coupled with added impurity in metals. Brands assure absence of these discrepancies through hallmarking/certification of their product. The customer rests assured that he is investing in the right thing. Brands have all the benefits that need to be communicated effectively to the consumer. If brands are to be sold through retailers than it is essential that communication and positioning of the product is comprehensible between the manufacturer/wholesaler and retailer. The price points are pre-fixed with branded jewellery which may be an attractive feature for the consumer but certainly requires a lot of exercise at the manufacturer’s end as he has to ascertain his own as well as retailer’s profits and still retain a reasonable pricing level of the end product.

New Generation Prefers Innovation :
Entrance of young generation has uniquely shaped the industry which otherwise preferred to operate in a secretive manner. The openness to ideas has brought a revolution in the way the business is being conducted now, “The new generation is lively with new ideas and is willing to accept changes. Customers are demanding something unusual which the gen-X is able to provide as they are ready to experiment and adapt to changes easily. Besides education is also playing a big role,” suggests Dattani while Mehul Shah observes, “The new generation of entrepreneurs have incorporated radical thinking and infused a global perspective in their business. They have initiated the hiring of top professionals from diverse sectors to adopt best practices and systems to fast-track the professionalism wave in the industry.”

Does Branding Involve High Cost ?
Branding and marketing may bear rich fruits but do involve massive costs and patience. This cost eventually would burden the customer. However, we have participants who think otherwise. “Branding is Expensive – lots of time, research, money etc. are involved.

It takes time and patience to build a Brand. A break-even may be achieved after as long as 5 years at times. Branding demands skilled sales personnel to convey the right message to the end consumer,” observes Dattani while Subrahmanyan disagrees, “It is a fallacy to think that because of branding the cost of a product would go up. What branding actually does is that it expands the market and drives for larger volume in sales from a larger market base. The process of branding actually enables the brand to reach a larger audience and consumer base and ultimately from larger volumes garnered in sales cost price actually comes down.” He further gives a comprehensive answer to my question ‘Why would the consumer bear extra cost?’ “The customer does not pay an extra premium for branding. He pays because in his perception the brand offers him something extra. Ultimately no brand is bigger than the consumer himself. What the brand needs to do is to position itself intelligently so that it appeals to the respective consumer base. If you can engage your customer through innovative branding the consumer will come to you. Aspiration to associate him with a particular brand is the key. Once he associates then he is willing to pay because he believes he is getting something which other brands don’t offer him. As far as Ganjam is concerned we are a niche brand. We communicate with our premium segment using relevant media that we consider are necessary. In keeping with our culture and heritage we have a strong association with events which promote art and culture, because it simply reflects our philosophy as a brand. For us, understanding our consumers and communicating with them in the right manner is extremely important and for that we have engaged the services of a London based brand Consultant Company, Walford and Wilkie, who understand what luxury is and create our branding based on the philosophies that we stand for.”

Brand Evolution Strong :
The Indian precious industry is quite excited about the brand revolution that is emerging strong. The process is recent, therefore will take time to turn into a successful model. Indians have always taken keen interest in buying jewellery as it is an important source of investment unlike westerners who consider jewellery primarily for fashion following which Indians are fairly cautious while purchasing ornaments. They until very recently only relied on the family jeweler but with flooding of brands and accelerated marketing and promotional activities, Indian consumer is gradually shifting attention to these. “It is actually a function of history and evolution. Western markets started functioning on the principles of branding much earlier and hence the consumers based in these markets got attuned to this particular marketing strategy much earlier than our Indian counterparts. Hence they responded to it in a much more positive manner. India is just evolving. Over the last 15-20 years consumers here also have really matured in terms of what they want. Branding is definitely, what consumers even in India now, are very conscious of. In due course of time Indian customers will be as evolved in terms of relating to branding as their western counterparts. In theory however, there is no difference between an Indian and western consumer world over, consumer behavior is more or less the same. It’s just that people take a little time to get used to a particular trend,” observes Subrahmanyan.

“Jewellery in the Indian context is intrinsic and therefore to an extent commoditized. Traditionally, designs and craftsmanship are always at a premium but not at a mass level. In the West, jewellery is just another product category and investments in brands happened earlier also. Hence, the consumer is more attuned to them than perhaps in the Indian context,” states Jain.

Well, these gentlemen have been convincing enough for me to state safely that marketing and branding are no more options to take up later rather they are prerequisites if you dream to sell even that single ring out of your store.

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