Your full-fledged establishment in India happened in 2011. How has the journey been so far?
It’s a very short journey until now but it’s also been very positive. Our focus is going to be across 20 cities by the end of this year and hopefully 120 or so retailers. Of course with an awareness of zero in 2011 our goal is to drive brand awareness at which we’ve been pretty successful so far. It’s been a year of having television presence. We had a television campaign pre and then post Christmas. We are now looking at a full, 360-degree marketing approach.
Forevermark says it currently represents 7 per cent of the ‘global consumer demand for diamonds’ and this is expected to grow to 11 percent in 2016. Where will this growth come from?
Geographically, we just don’t plan to be in the cities that we are in; we plan to expand. This growth will come from all areas. It will be from within the cities we are present in too. In 2011, we started with the metros, we experimented with the mini metros. Our intention is to cover 20 markets by 2013 in India and having covered that much we feel we would have pretty much covered the country. So, we plan to expand to all geographically important cities.
Does Forever (or DeBeers) have its own retail outlets? Is it a disadvantage not having outlets with modern trade rising, especially in jewellery?
No, we don’t. What we just want to focus on is our diamond brand. It isn’t a disadvantage because we are putting in the right kind of training. It is this training that has helped us reach over 900 doors all over the world in a span of four years which is pretty big. We probably have half a billion of retail across the world which is a pretty big number. The core of our business model is partnership which we bring on table with two distinct groups. One is the group that cuts and polishes diamonds. On the other side we work with selective retailers who are a very important part of our business partnership.
What is the competition for Forever Mark Diamonds like? How do you view growth of organised retail chains like Tanishq in the space?
For us as long as the retailer is right to develop consumer relations, we can beautifully go ahead and surpass any competition.
What are the media vehicles that you use/ intend to use to send across your message to your target audience? Are you planning to do any kind of innovations when it comes to digital and social media?
Well, our marketing plan revolves around a complete 360-degree approach. As far as digital is concerned, we are planning a few things. One is a whole experience once you’ve bought a Forever Mark diamond by registering on our site, to check that you’ve got the diamond that somebody actually sold on our behalf. You can then create and upload your own video to share your experience.
In the past we’ve done virtual trail, where you can select a piece of jewellery and try it on virtually. There is also a ‘promise campaign’ that involved deep emotional connect of the consumer.
What are the marketing initiatives lined up for 2013? Could you help us with the marketing spends?
We have our television presence; that will continue. Then there are digital innovations like the inspirations behind promises around which we are planning a lot of PR activities. The main focus for us is television but we are adopting a complete 360-degree marketing approach. I can’t disclose the exact figures but our marketing budget since we started has increased tremendously and rapidly since the brand is growing from nothing to a pretty good size. We are focusing of being clever as to where our money is being spent.
Which are the cities that witness your presence in India? Which of them are the best markets for you?
The cities in which we are present are Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Jalandhar, Kanpur, Kolkata, Ludhiana, Meerut, ,Mumbai, New Delhi/ NCR, Panipat, Pune, Vadodara and Vishakhapatnam.
At this point in time, southern India is one of our most important regions followed by western market. That basically represents how organised the jewellery retail there is. But we do believe that Delhi and Mumbai will be among our hotter markets.
Is there a guideline on the kind of outlet Forevermark should be present in?
Not really. There isn’t a specific guideline but I think something that is really crucial is that our partner has to have a common passion. He has to have transparency in terms of promises. And of course, how they enable the consumer to come and shop.
Is there seasonality to purchase witnessed – especially around the wedding season? Is this changing? There have been efforts by players to change this and prompt purchase without occasions – what has been Forevermark’S approach?
The maximum sale in our category only happens for bridals. It is now shifting a bit. Now it has become on more reasons that are important. In fact, even the blackout days of the past are showing sales (like saturdays here in India). Now people buy jewellery as convenience allows.
Then again, every market does have it seasons. India or globally, the bridal season is the most important. Then there is Christmas in the West, Valentine’s day, Chinese New year, and so on.
We are trying to advertise as much as possible to promote not just on season but off season sales too. The Red Carpet season in the West is a great platform to showcase and boost sales even in the off season.
Are diamonds still primarily a HNI category in India? Is this changing? How?
The market for diamond (consumer) groups changes as the levels of disposable income shifts. So in India, whilst the market of diamonds is still in small numbers in terms of elite consumers, it’s shifting. And the opportunity is with the the youngsters, people who travel a lot, etc.