The regional shine nationally: A peculiar phenomenon of Indian jewellery brands.
We are a nation of many cultures, a nation globally unique owing to its diversity. Over the years as I travelled the length and the breadth of this country, I realized a new world meets you every few miles. From food, to architecture, to language, to apparels you will find a new hue, a unique lifestyle. This diversity has had an interesting impact on the realms of brands. It has created two level playing fields national and regional, which operate on equal strengths.
There are some categories where the regional v/s national brands dynamics thicken and often the regional brand trumps in merits. Real estate, furniture, Retail, foods and textiles are some of them. Regional brands have been in existence way before the national brand concept came into being. The era before television, was the era where there wasn’t a national media binding the diverse nation into one. After the advent of television even though a national presence became possible it wasn’t easy. Establishing your brand regionally with more region specific mediums was simpler, while making a mark nationally was an expensive challenge, a feat that the likes of Unilever, Tata, Procter & Gamble and ITC could achieve, that too was a possibility owing to their national distribution capabilities. Television surely was instrumental in helping many regional brands go national for instance Zandu, Amul, Rasna, Chick, Margo and many more. But the regional v/s national phenomenon still is a strong element in the brandscape of India.
Even today there are many categories where there exists no national brand existing or emerging and even if there is a white-space to occupy it is a herculean task. Amongst all jewellery as a category tops the list, the high value, high margin retail brands yet haven’t come up to the national level like Tanishq. Tanishq too has braved a multiple challenges to get where it is today.
Currently there exists only two national brands in the jewellery space, Tanishq and Reliance, of which the latter is struggling to establish itself and will take time. But in the same space dwell regional brands that have managed to garner national attention and are paving their way to become a strong national brand. The likes of Kalyan Jewellers, Malabar Jewellers, Joy Allukas, PC Jewellers, Lalitha Jewellers. For instance the Mumbai rooted Tribhuvandas Bhimji Zaveri, has created strong presence in Delhi these brands are now competing with Tanishq nationally. Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri Ltd. (TBZ) is a noted Indian jeweller and jewellery retail chain based in India. Established in 1864 (153 years ago) The company today, has 37 showrooms in 23 cities across eleven states, including Mumbai, Surat, Kochi, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Rajkot.
The brand has evolved with time and adapts communication that makes them be perceived as a national player. Rishton ko savarte aaye hai hum….their campaign talks about the connecting the older generation to the new, designs a combination of the two, a message that solves the problem of design vulnerability.
But no blanket national brands are emerging, intrigued by this dynamics I dived into comprehending the reasons that result in a brandscape so regionally heavy and the insights are interesting:
Reasons why Regional Brands shine nationally:
- Trust:Jewellery is a high-involvement category, the precious yellow metals core currency is trust. The mistrust in the quality of gold one is buying makes them choose the comfort zone of buying from the jewellers their family has known for generations. Generations of a family in India often buy gold from one jeweller. The concept of a family jeweller is a strong reality in India.
- Design: Regional players win heavily on traditional, authentic design that reflects the cultural nuances. Also the traditional designs are known and revered for their intricate craftsmanship. Mothers’ are more than happy to invest in traditional designs as they are the need of life-altering occasions like marriage. The vulnerability however steps in when the next generation, the daughters voice their choice of a contemporary designs. The designs that work for the new generation is a blend of traditional and modern, this is where the national brand scores over the regional player. Here is where Tanishq gets a brownie point over regional brand, as they have best of both worlds. However regional brands are quickly catching up and capitalizing on this trend, for instance TBZ has started a new light of design which appeals to the new generation. Hence this can become a great impetus for national brands to shine.
- Rates: National brands have their limitations when it comes to providing spot discounts over catalogue prices, as it becomes a matter of authority, ledgers and economies. But a regional player being an owner driven setup has the flexibility of incentivising big ticket purchases by spot discounts.
- Resale:Yet another decision making element where regional players earn a brownie point. Going to the same jeweller they have bought from gives them a chance to get higher resale value for their gold, and for the regional player it is about maintaining relations, the same isn’t true for national brands.
- Relationships:We are a country that operates on the warmth and goodwill of relations. This become one major area where regional players score highly over national players. The regional player know their customers by faces, name and vice-versa. For instance the comfort you share with your local kiranawala is valued more than the anonymous experience at the supermarket with professionals. The familiarity factor plays an important role, as customers truly indulge in the home like services and special treatment and word-of-mouth becomes an important fuel in building a regional brand.
- Consider making a matrix based on all these factors and when you map jewellery brands on it you will find that the regional players score higher on each of the parameters. They have the pedigree of craftsmanship. And it is these factors that can help them be a national brand, for instance Kalyan jewellers, Malabal jewellers and Joy Alukkas are hiring national level celebrities like Amithabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Kajol to create an impact across the country. 20 years back no one knew Kalyan Jewellers even in Andhra, but 10 years back when they engaged Nagaarjuna as their ambassador they became a huge brand in Andhra. They follow suit nationally by having the Bachchan’s on board.
Kalyan Jewellers is an Indian jewellery store chain. It was founded by T. S. Kalyanaraman, who started their first jewellery shop in 1993 in Thrissur, Kerala, India with a capital of ₹7.5 million (US$110,000) and has since grown to become the largest jewellery store chain in India. With approximately 8000 employees, the chain has 100 showrooms across India.
Kalyan Jewellers have partnered with a number of celebrities to be regional brand ambassadors, including Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif in North India, Manju Warrier in Kerala, Nagarjuna Akkineni in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Shiva Rajkumar in Karnataka, Prabhu Ganesan in Tamil Nadu. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was paid ₹100 million (US$1.4 million) per year for a two-year deal with Kalyan Jewellers to be a nationwide brand ambassador, which was formerly Sushmita Sen. The advertising and marketing budget of Kalyan is around ₹900 million (US$13 million). Also Katrina Kaif for the young generation. Har Bharatiya shadi ke liye.Uses celebrity strategy mostly, and this has made it go national.
Today the possibility of a regional brand going national is higher than a new national brand succeeding, due to the new media efficiencies’. Digital targeting, simpler national advertising options make it easier for regional players to dream national. On the other hand it is difficult for national brands to establish themselves efficiently, we only have a few and they belong to the big-houses, Tata and Reliance, the names people trust. This scenario is only true for Gold, as for platinum and diamonds the scenario changes are you see customers absolutely comfortable buying them online owing to the forever mark and a different attitude towards the jewellery. Gold being a cultural element of importance has a peculiar nuance and that is for now heavily rooted in the known and loved regional brands.
Originally published in Gem & Jewellery Industry magazine.