FUTURE OF ADVERTISING IN THE GEM & JEWELLERY INDUSTRY


 

 

“Shining Stars.”

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  1. 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.[1] 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.

 

Being Pops.


What the heck if pretty girls call me Pops? What’s the fuch if people think I was born in the same year as Zora Sehgal ? What the hell if people try to find similarities between Balki, and me thinking that I am his Pops? What the shet if Arvind Sharma’s driver introduces me as his saheb’s “papaji” ?

It’s not easy being Pops. Yes. It’s not easy to be Big B’s Popsji, Chennai’s Mr.Pops, Miss Universe Sushmita Sen’s Pops, Chiranjeevi’s Pops garu, Balki’s Pops & Tweetaratti’s kvpops. “Baap re” its difficult to take loads of affection, respect and love.

“Pops” made Kondiparthi Venkata Sridhar a brand, and proved to the world, power of naming and branding. Imagine Mr. kondiparthiji.  What did I do to deserve to be called Pops?

Simply nothing.

In early 90’s when Chax and I joined Lintas as creative heads of one of their Bombay units, Alyque Padamsee was at his wittiest best when he hired an ex- military Major as chief administrator. Now one can imagine the hierarchy and bureaucracy ruling the floors of Express towers.

In such an office there was a quite shy-ish six-foot young copywriter named Sridhar existed. Since the culture did not allow bosses to be nicknamed, poor little baby-faced Sridhar was christened as “Baby Sridhar” and me, months later by default became “Papa Sridhar” and then came a livewire called Asha Rishi an account executive who started calling me Pops.

By virtue of my personality people felt it’s an apt description of me. Chax my partner in crime need to take some blame for not resenting in fact he started a chain of jokes on Pops. Around mid 90’s advertising and marketing media suddenly became big and they took up the mission of making Pops stick in people’s heads.

In old day advertising guys used be real characters with some quirkiness, Alyque with his diction, Kersy with his suspenders, Chax with his Gandhi glass and signature beard, Piyush with his handlebar mustache, Prahlad with his cigars and hat, since I had none, “Pops” helped me to be remembered.

All jokes apart, the changes that came along with the name Pops are: made me look wiser, acquire patience, forced me to listen to people and lend my shoulder, made me stop leching at young girls once they call you Pops. Convinced me to adopt young talented kids and above all reminds me to make my bucket list every morning.

As the cliché’ goes: the rest is history.

( Written specially for Impact magazine.)

Partnerships.


When I got married and moved to Bangalore my 70-year-old landlord and his 65-year-old wife were waiting for us at the bungalow we hired to bless us. My one week old wife was happy that a couple who were married for over 40 years are blessing us.

Little we knew that the secret they were about to share would change our lives. The couple asked us “who’s decision was it to move to Bangalore?” I gleamingly said 50:50 pointing both of us. The couple took us aside and shared the secret: “ Partnership is not about being 50:50, it’s to know when to be 30 and when to be 70.”

Like in life even at work this principle works brilliantly. Good partnerships thrive on pushing each other and to know when to push and when not to. Like spouses, partners do not have to be politically correct or worry about emotions at that point in time.


Such successful partnerships in advertising in India are: Chax & Pops (me). Piyush Pandey & Sonal Debral, Neville & Josy Paul, Naveed & Freddy, late Mahesh & Rajiv and now Aggi & Paddy.

Forging a partnership allows you to have mutual trust and respect, I have had forged many in my career which helped me in creating iconic work apart from Chax the significant ones are with Balki at Lowe, Agnello at Lowe and leo Burnett, Arvind Sharma & Rajeev Sharma at Leo Burnett, Ramathkar started at Enterprise in 90’s and still continuing, Ganesh Mahalingam at LG. Dharen Chedda at JWT.

Partnerships are like friendships: “selfless” all the time, this allows you to accept any criticism or ideas with equal enthusiasm. Usually we think clients, bosses, celebrity filmmakers and film and sports stars are monsters and are out to get your life like “Yamdharmaraj”, which is fortunately not true.

Ganesh Mahalingam of LG used to approve scripts on phone and sms’s which allowed us to create over 50 commercials in a calendar year to take the brand LG over 3000 corers. Look at Rajiv Rao and Varma their partnership is creating magic for their band and consumers, Piyush & Prasoon created magic on Fevicol as siblings often do. Balki’s partnership with Amitabh Bachchan  is proving to be as potent as Saleem & Javeed of 70’s.

Partnerships can also help in strange ways as Balki’s youth did to me; I had difficult time to match up to his energy levels. No wonder people say never marry a girl half your age…

Now that I stand exposed of my crimes and partners. Amen.

StorySelling.


Dream Merchants to storysellers, advertising creatives made the distance. As television gained popularity, it took little time to realize that viewers are interested in entertainment and not messages. This reinvention has its inspirations drawn from the human history, a simple insight of humans being exploited by religious preachers,  travellers, wise men and grand parents: People are interested in stories than preachings, events or even morals.

Epics like “Ramayan” or even “Panchatantra” amply demonstrate the apetite for stories. Take bedtime stories for example, when a kid does something wrong we wait till its bedtime to narrate a moral story. Good moral stories are like a homeopathic pills, while the sugar coating is entertainment and medicine is the moral. This enlightenment of short Panchatantra type moral stories lead to powerful 60 seconds stories in advertising.

Here is one such advertising story I love the most, This story was written by Agnello Dias while he was with Leo Burnett six years ago. Agnello has always been a story teller but he seldom used the skills in television, this time around my nagging and pushing him has resulted in this epic story for Times of India.

When DNA launched its paper in Mumbai, Times of India wanted to reiterate the paper’s rich and long association with the country, with a brief like that, one would have fallen into dramatizing rich historic events, but Agnello came up with a brilliant observation about news papers, that they bring-in good and bad news with the same emotions. True. Look at the classified columns, you’ll see an obituary ad next to celebrating birth of a child ad. These observations lead Agnello to write story of this newspaper delivering good and bad news to the same family.

Finally it’s all about telling a great story in the simplest manner with a great insight or an observation thrown in. Whether you are writing a novel, short story, feature film or even  a 60 second spot, the rules are the same: set up a conflict and resolve them in an inspiring way.

No wonder we still love homeopathic pills.

“Bollywood the ugly caterpillar.”


Bollywood is going through a metamorphosis, what dominated in sixties was emotional melodramas and patriotic themes to seventies restlessness for social justices lead to the creation of “angry young-man” and eighties saw the emergence of romance  and optimism with new parallel cinema thrown in. Nineties saw the global settings of Bollywood reflecting the success of Indians abroad and Bollywood started setting stories rather than songs abroad. And last decade dominated by Khans and KJo ( Karan Johar) took Bollywood stories to aspirations of living the dreams in an escapist land. Reality took a nose dive, it was all about Indian sentiments set in designer ware.

Thanks to multiplex revolution in urban India, cinema took a serious U turn, powered by younger and more saner breed wanting to take Bollywood out of long hibernation. After Ray’s and Benegal’s and Marchant’s and Jabwalla’s India cinema virtually went into an hibernation till “Lagan” came along.

Today after “Udan” and “Peepli Live” one can say that the ugly caterpillar is morphing into a beautiful butterfly.