Vishwas Parikh
Group Operations Manager-Mouawad

In an increasingly competitive environment, family jewellers rely on the power and reach of their legacy and heritage to create brands that survive the test of time and make a difference. It goes without saying that these brands bring with them a promise of a superlative experience, quality and unique products, and an emotional connect. In a session at The Retail Jeweller India Forum 2018, Vishwas Parikh, Group Operations Manager, Mouawad, delved deep into the history of the 127-year-old organization and how the fourth generation-run business moved beyond just selling products and chose to identify their brand value and build a brand. Here’s ‘How to build an aspirational brand’.

Building brand equity

At the start of the journey, after the fourth generation took over the business, the company identified brand tenets, rather pillars, that helped transform the business into a brand. “We had loyal customers, a robust management team, a sound foundation of stores, a treasure trove of exclusive jewels and the knowhow,” informed Parikh, adding, “We always knew we had the best designs.” Next up – playing to the product strength of the brand. To begin with, ‘we started gaining Guinness World Records which proved to be a winning marketing move. Our unique products were acquired and sold at a much higher premium than the usual rates because they were all record holding pieces.” As per the latest figures, the brand holds 5 Guinness records. Parikh also highlighted how their third generation built the GIA campus without much noise. “Years ago, Robert Mouawad had spent millions of dollars to create the renowned Carlsbad GIA office but no one talked about this. A De Beers sight holder, Mouawad started promoting this legacy at every boutique.”

Parikh pointed at the business sense of creating the right noise about their best pieces. “We were soon talking about our best diamonds and their history; we also coined names for diamonds that improved our brand equity. We firmly believe that Mouawad’s name will be spoken about for as long as those diamonds are in circulation,” he said. To substantiate his point, Parikh showed a video on Mouawad’s latest find, the Kimberley Star diamond. The video discussed its manufacturing origin, production procedure, certificate of excellence from the Gemmological Institute of America and its precise 111.11 carat weight. “That’s the difference between a business and a brand. While the former will try to sell this diamond in a box with customers being hesitant about the price, a brand like Mouawad chooses to add a book certified by the GIA that confirms its claims about the diamond and a 30-page journal about the history of the product. Such additional brand value prompts a buyer to make a quick and informed choice,” maintained Parikh. That’s what prompted the brand to begin narrating tales. “I know most family jewellers have a history but the point is, are you telling the story?” Parikh quizzed.

Talking of marketing and media promotions, it’s a given that known faces help in brand equity building. “We started grabbing a lot of attention by dressing up celebrities for events rather than having them become our brand ambassador; that would bear an additional cost,” he added. Working with key media influencers, having them wear Mouawad’s jewellery and post pictures on social media handles have surged conversion rates of certain products by nearly 30%. “Our promotional videos fared so well that our Facebook engagement rate is second to Tiffany’s while a collaboration with Victoria’s Secrets has boosted our PR incredibly,” he maintained.

Data-based decision making

No, the store needn’t display the entire inventory; some intelligent data analysis can help understand sales patterns and customer expectations. At Mouawad, Parikh said, “most of the decision making is data specific.” For family run businesses that rely heavily on intuition, he said, “It’s important to create a line of products from data analysis, test run on customers for feedback and then decide whether it should be launched.”

Data today equals to technology and Parikh gave a background of their preparedness for technology-based decision making as he elaborated on the IT facilities at Mouawad. He explained how Microsoft dynamics has worked well along with Sales Force, a tool that enables high-end customer relationship to engage in zonal tracking and sending notifications to a customer walking by their brand boutique. The Tableau software slices and dices the data to the last level to generate reports basis user requirements. This business intelligence software, “makes graphical data analysis out of any data fed into it”. From top sellers of the previous 10 years to insights on return on investments and success rate of campaigns by Mouawad, the software does it all, Parikh informed.

He cited examples of luxury brands like Tiffany’s that have succeeded in creating a unique brand identity by focusing on a particular product. Parikh narrated a Mouawad case study which used extensive data-based research and analysis to develop its positioning as a diamond bridal boutique with a strong focus on classic collections – engagement rings, wedding rings and diamond classics – from a brand that was best known for its high-end sets. This made a boutique revamp necessary despite the challenges. “When customers walk in, their first reaction should be ‘luxury’.

Parikh explained how Mouawad reviewed its classic sales contribution to total sales. This was preceded by a thorough market study comprising of competitor analysis in the same product category – their offerings, price points, sizes and cut, colour, clarity. This was followed by a histogram of price study and data segmentation based on cut, colour, clarity to understand which products fared best at Mouawad in the last five years. A detailed study of their diamond sales, designs and other data classification based on cut, colour, clarity, Parikh stated, helped significantly reduce the Mouawad inventory of diamond rings, sealing their ‘diamond house’ status. “We observed that a diamond ring with a Mouawad mark on it sold the most,” he stated, implying that by producing more of what they have been selling the most and less of the slow movers, the brand was able to boost their inventory turnover significantly. Aware of the innovation challenges to a diamond ring design, Parikh said that they instead opted for a vertical integration from the mining source to selling engagement rings. “Thus we were able to offer the Mouawad diamond promise, a certificate that states the source of the rough diamond, where it was cut, polished and produced. This is how we sealed customer trust,” Parikh added.

Staying relevant

Parikh mentioned some very popular brands which perished because they failed to evolve and stay relevant. To sum up his presentation, Parikh stressed, “It is important to adapt to changing times. “Mouawad is heavily invested in the Middle East, an oil-dependent region.” With renewable energy and solar energy production costs reducing 250 times from 1977 to 2017, 10 years later, it will be a challenge for the brand to generate similar revenues from the region, he felt.  “This calls for strategizing future plans based on current realities,” he concluded.