Richa Singh,
(E
x-GM, L’Oreal)

It never pays to presume that the consumer is a timid and unchanging entity, constrained by tradition because jewellery is a high ticket-price category. In this session of the Retail Jeweller India Forum 2017, two brilliant marketing strategists gave examples from their own experience to show how a brand can rethink its approach from first principles — with a lot of attentive preparation — to break genuinely new ground in winning over women consumers.

WINNING THE WOMAN CONSUMER

For most jewellers it is becoming essentially important to understand how to build more value for their customers. How to become the brand of choice? Richa Singh, an expert marketer with 15 years at cosmetics major L’Oreal, in her presentation described what it takes to create a brand that women dream of owning.

Speaking of Turner Road, Bandra, Mumbai’s acknowledged “jewellery high street”, she said, “Every shop there has a celebrity brand ambassador, so how does a customer decide which shop to go to? What is it that you can do differently so that she chooses your outlet?”

Having placed that question front and centre, she changed tack, to offer insights into the psyche of the modern customer.

“Women invest a lot of emotional trust in their support groups, which include family, friends, anybody in her circles,” Singh said. “More than 20 per cent of women in India are employed full-time. About 40 per cent of Internet users are now women, of whom 70 per cent connect via the mobile phone. Women consumers have moved from saving to spending, and their spending becomes more impulsive and more guilt-free as they are influenced by digital media. Women consumers also influence the buying decisions of others in their family.”

This newfound importance of women consumers, said Singh, means that “A brand needs to find a way to directly communicate with them, as celebrities are no longer the reason she will buy a particular brand. Brands need to make the effort to make her feel special.”

Singh’s suggestion to brands was to consider how beauty salons delight their customers. “Everything is personalised. Giving a client a free foot massage on her birthday can buy her loyalty for a lifetime. Rather than an automated birthday message, the retailer should take the trouble to make the occasion memorable.”

When deciding on promotions and offers, Singh advised, build relevance and customise your offers. For example, “If a customer comes to the salon for hair colouring, give her a hair colour–specific offer.” Singh asked retailers to think differently, because a “50 per cent discount on jewellery may not excite customers anymore”. The brand must offer something “for me”.

She recommended subtlety and restraint. “Customers do not want to avail discount offers that are publicly announced. She does not want to be seen as a woman who is entering a shop because of a buy-one-get-one-free offer.” Singh suggested that leaving a sign on the counter about a special offer would encourage a customer to ask the sales staff about it, as she would be more comfortable asking privately.

Singh gave the example of the international jewellery brand Hearts on Fire. “Their display counters allow customers to interact with the sales staff directly and not across the barrier of a counter.” Brands need to be able to “speak with” the customer, she emphasised, and not “talk to” her.

New-age women, said Singh, feel they are well-informed and will want to test the retailers. “If it is Oscars season and Aishwarya wore a particular designer, or it is Fashion Week and cocktail rings are flashing, women want to talk about these things. Jewellers need to know the trends and what’s happening in the market.”

There are other subtleties to be aware of: “When it comes to celebrity influence, India is the second-biggest market. But don’t forget, these days, the stylist who manages a celeb is also a celeb in her own right.”

Competition is being redefined, said Singh. “A customer will choose between categories she wants to spend on. It’s no longer about outdoing your neighbouring jeweller. It’s gone far beyond price comparisons. You have to find ways to place your product in the ‘consideration set’, against several other categories.”

Summing up, she said, “Catchment planning and targeted communication are now easier, because of digital media. Jewellers can build the persona of the kind of customer they wish to communicate with.” There is a possibility, in other words, of selecting from a database customers who prefer LVMH — or any other brand that fits your brand’s imagery — and then targeting those customers.