Ramesh Kalyanaraman tells us how intimate weddings emerging as a trend has affected the jewellery industry.
- The usual fervor of the Big Fat Indian Summer weddings have given way to downsized miniature ceremonies this season.
- However, consumers are investing the money they save from these small weddings in gold to secure their future.
- On the back of these trends,
Ramesh Kalyanaraman, Executive Director, Kalyan Jewellersis optimistic that the brand will be able to expand its customer basket size by 30%.
- We caught up with Kalyanaraman to understand how intimate weddings emerging as a trend has affected the
jewellery industry, various safety precautions it has taken across operational showrooms, and a lot more.
Over the past three quarters, the value of gold has continued to accelerate. As a result, Kalyan Jewellers is now looking to increase its customer basket size by at least 30%.
The brand also managed to close 10% of its annual
Looking at these trends, Kalyan Jewellers’ Executive Director, Ramesh Kalyanaraman, voiced his optimism for the recovery of the sector. He shared with us how intimate weddings emerging as a trend has affected the jewellery industry, various safety precautions it has taken across operational showrooms and why the brand decided to align its marketing monnies on digital to adjust to the volatile market.
Q. Tell us a bit about your campaign #MuharatAtHome. What is the idea behind it? What are the challenges you are facing in conducting ad shoots considering the restrictions?
Weddings have always brought people together. This year, with lockdown restrictions in place during peak wedding season, it was presumed that everyone would postpone their wedding plans, but we were pleasantly surprised to see that this wasn’t the case at all. We saw families trade grand ceremonies for intimate functions, ruled by minimalism, simplicity and personalization. It is this trend of intimate weddings that our #MuhuratAtHome campaign captures.
For the ad campaign we opted for an ‘at-home’ shoot with limited cast and crew, following state specified shoot protocols. As this is going to be a Pan-India campaign with multiple iterations, it was shot in three cities, with three separate teams. In each of these locations, the advertising agencies involved, followed the guidelines issued by local authorities and recreated a home-like intimate wedding set up.
Q. How difficult was the lockdown period for Kalyan Jewellers?
Initially it felt strange, because this was the first time in all these years that all our showrooms were shut at the same time. After a week, we realised that we will need to make good of this time, and so we started using it more productively to strategize, realign priorities and plan our next steps.
For the staff, we conducted online training sessions. We also did customer outreach more as a gesture than anything else. We were actively involved in many CSR initiatives, be it collaborating with our brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan and Sony Pictures Network.
During Akshaya Tritiya, at the request of regular customers, we launched the Gold Ownership Certificate which allowed customers to purchase and own gold on Akshaya Tritiya. The certificate could be redeemed for against physical gold, in the form of jewellery or coins, on or before October 31, 2020. To our surprise, this was very well received, and we managed to do close to 10% of our annual Akshaya Tritiya business with this initiative.
Q. How are your preparations for unlocking going? What are the various safety precautions you have taken across operational showrooms?
We have heightened the safety and hygiene measures across our operational showrooms to safeguard the health and safety of our patrons and the community at large. All customers are given temperate checks with handheld scanners at the entrance. Customers are required to use single-use glove in the showrooms, and this is made available to them upon entry. Masks are provided to anyone who is not wearing it already. Deep cleaning of showrooms is undertaken at regular intervals through the day, and all high touch point zones like counter tops, door knobs etc. are frequently sanitized. We feel that going forward, even when the lockdown is completely lifted, these hygiene practices will become the new normal.
Q. How have you observed consumer behavior changing lately? And what are some of the consumer buying trends witnessed in regions where showrooms have reopened?
Over the past three quarters, we have witnessed a surge in gold prices and the value of gold, as an asset, has continued to accelerate. It is the only asset that has proved to be a promising and safe investment option for consumers across the country. In line with this, we are looking at an increase in the customer basket size by at least 30%.
Furthermore, with DIY or intimate weddings emerging as a trend, the wedding-related expenses on venue booking, catering, etc. have reduced and customers have more disposable income at their end, which is now being allocated to investing in gold jewellery. Additionally, shoppers who have postponed their weddings are making purchases as planned by availing our bridal lounge facility, for a personalized shopping experience.
Currently, we are witnessing a steady stream of footfalls across our operational showrooms. A segment of those footfalls are customers who are reaping the benefits of pre-booking their gold jewellery or those who purchased the Gold Ownership Certificate this Akshaya Tritiya. Some are there to exchange their older gold for newer pieces. Looking at the current trend, we are fairly optimistic about the recovery of the sector.
Q. What has your marketing strategy been during the lockdown? Did you modify your media mix, with marketing investments getting shifted from one medium to another?
One of the biggest trends that has emerged out of the nationwide lockdown is the huge surge in screen time spent by Indians across digital platforms. In line with this, brands have begun to align their marketing budgets towards digital, social media & OTT, especially when it comes to placing new content. In line with this, we introduced temporary changes to our media mix with a more digital-centric approach.
For campaigns such as #MaaTuneSonaKaDilPaya (Mother’s Day), we leveraged crowdsourced photographs from our social media community wherein some of the best moments were handpicked to feature in a campaign video. Amitabh Bachchan was the voice of the campaign, and it was well received. The #MuhuratAtHome campaign is also a result of a similar online-only strategy.
Q. We are sure the future of retail and jewellery industry will never be the same. How are you making sure you opt to digital media, online selling policies and physical distancing need to help your consumer?
The unique aspect to the jewellery business is the concept of privacy while shopping which has always existed. Families come together and prefer to sit together, a little away from other families that are shopping. Kalyan Jewellers’ showrooms are therefore standalone showrooms, which are either mid-size, large format or flagship showrooms, designed to allow this unique shopping practice.
Our counters are also demarcated as wedding, gemstone, diamond or daily wear jewellery – which is an added advantage during these times of social distancing. (Auspicious days like Akshaya Tritiya or Dhanteras are the only times when this rule doesn’t apply.) Additionally, as mentioned earlier we have launched appointment facilities for our bridal lounge services which can be availed by wedding shoppers for a personalized shopping experience.
Q. Do you think this experience will change the way you market your brand in the future?
The USP of the brand will remain the same, but the channels of marketing might change. Naturally, when you change the channel, the way you communicate the same brand USP will get amended.
In the coming years, we intend to focus on targeted marketing campaigns.
Q. The pandemic and the lockdown has brought with it a lot of learning. What are your major learnings from this experience so far?
During the lockdown, we re-evaluated many aspects of our business, and realised that with careful planning, we can cut costs under various heads, without affecting the overall performance of the business. We intend to implement this learning even going forward.
With showrooms spread across the country, our senior and mid-level management used to travel extensively. Now with the lockdown rules, travel has reduced significantly, and we are managing our operations remotely. This saves both money and time. Going forward, we plan to carefully rationalise travel needs.
Our marketing campaigns have also evolved post the lockdown, and we are looking at targeting online campaigns instead of larger campaigns, and this is also working well for us. Another lesson for the future.