Keeping pace with consumers

Over half of India’s population is less than 25 years old. This means that Indian consumers are divided into two segments — those born before 1989 and those born after 1989. The problem is that, while most consumers of jewellery belong to the former category, the manufacturers and retailers belong in the latter age cohort. The Retail Jeweller organised a session on “State of the Industry Affairs” to understand how leading players are trying to keep pace with the changing consumer. Nikita Peer

It’s no more about convincing the grandmothers, aunts or elder sisters to buy. The actual user — mostly the actual bride — has taken over,” said Anil Talwar, owner, Talwarson Jewellers. According to R K Sharma, executive director & COO, PC Jeweller, “These well-informed consumers ask not just about the basic gold weight, stone type, etc., but also about the nitty-gritties like what kind of polishing, besides being curious to know whether they can upgrade the jewellery after five years.”

Tanya Rastogi of Lucknow-based Lala Jugal Kishore Jewellers said, “Earlier we would focus on ‘trust’ while promoting our brand. But new-age jewellery firms like BlueStone.com came out with naughty ads talking in the language of the youngsters. To tap these customers, we have had to start sponsoring events at premier educational institutes like IIM.” In the same context Aditya Pethe, director, Waman Hari Pethe, said, “Earlier we had to compete with other jewellers, but now our competition is with gadgets, cars, etc., which are more aspirational to youth. As an industry we have failed to market our products well. People proudly flaunt their high-end phones but nobody does that with their jewellery.”

In terms of design also, jewellers are trying to break perceptions. Deepak Choksi, founder, CVM Exports, pointed out that “We were doing only uncut diamond jewellery a few years ago, when we became one of the manufacturers of the Azva jewellery collection. Back then people believed that a woman who wears diamond jewellery is the most fashionable. Today we have been able to change the perception by extensive market research into what kind of designs in gold a consumer likes to buy.”

According to Shailesh Sangani, MD, Priority Jewels, diamonds as a category has not been able to prosper due to the weak trust factor. “The word ‘trust’ is overrated,” he says. “While most jewellers sell gold at same price, every store sells diamonds at a different price. In Chennai, diamonds are sold at between ₹70,000 and ₹1,50,000 per carat in different stores. Everybody claims to offer the same laboratory certificate and VVS quality,” he said.
Panellists also noted that the industry is at a point where it must adapt or perish. Prasad Kapre, director & CEO, Style Quotient, who recently launched a silver jewellery collection, said, “Post-recession, there has been a shift. People are looking at alternate metals. With the power of social sharing, you are always under the scanner, which means you need to have various (not just a few) different designs and sets of jewellery. Besides affordability, buying silver also takes care of the investment angle as it is still seen as a precious metal.”

Creating a good experience also helps. Darpan Anand, MD, Punjab Jewellers, shared his experience. “A few of our stores were not doing well and we were planning to diversify our business. Eventually, with inputs from the industry, we ended up providing a luxury experience across all our stores. In no time, we realised that consumers are willing to pay a little extra for a good experience. We also introduced high-end watches, which not only sold phenomenally well but also helped us gain large footfall that could convert into jewellery sales.”