Sachin Jain, President, Forevermark India
I will begin by asking you to go back in time and reflect on how, over the past decade, industries have moved forward in terms of how they interface with consumers. There has been immense progress. Sadly, in the diamond and jewellery business, we have not been as quick to catch on to this trend. However, in the last five years, there has been a dramatic change in making diamonds more “real”, if you will. It’s no longer about the big Bollywood women wearing diamonds, it’s about the real women who wear them. I have also seen a modernisation of the retail model, with a lot of technology coming in.
There is no denying that young consumers are spending every waking moment on their screens. When I see consumers in the age bracket of 25-35, I can safely conclude that before they’ve physically entered a store, they have gone online at least six times to learn more about the product. That is the reality of how consumers are seeking knowledge about diamonds, basic content about brands and make an informed decision about their purchase. I think the role that digital plays in diamonds is not only about online transactions, but it is also much more deep-rooted. It is about storytelling and transparency. We as an industry cannot focus only on transactions, we need to maintain a constant connection with our customers.
I have done a lot of research on this topic, to understand the needs of my consumers, and I can say that the majority of diamond brands are not connecting with their customers because what their brand communicates does not reflect the needs of the modern consumer. The more one talks about fancy Bollywood stars, the less a modern woman connects with it, as she did 20 years ago, for instance.
Is this Indian consumer actually buying diamonds online, people ask? I’d say that there are a few transactions, which are mostly low in value and carried out as gifts to be sent to an acquaintance or distant relative. The relevance of a physical brick-and-mortar store is still popular. At the end of the day, a diamond consumer still wants to look and feel what he or she is about to purchase. That said, in the future, both digital and physical stores will be very cohesive. Today, if a website or Instagram page does not appeal to a consumer, they will lose interest in the brand. Therefore, all platforms must work together. What the consumer feels about your brand imagery on the website needs to be consistent with what they see in the physical store, and reflect the same consistency in the print advertisements too. Jewellers really need to be more aware of this, as millennial consumers expect this. You have to be consistent with your messages and the imagery created on different platforms.
In this industry, we understand that customers form a bond with their diamonds. However, in order to do this, we need to speak to them in a language that they understand. In this case, that is technology. We create a story, let them relate, and that could eventually translate into a sale. We are in the 21st century now, it’s not just the man who decides which ring to propose with; the decision is mutual, and digital platforms have an important role to play in this process.
Milliennials are now leading a multifaceted life, where they are managing homes, children, and jobs and this reflects in the way they accessorise. The focus is, this, on functionality-based purchase of diamonds, where the wearer can go through the day — home, office, gym, parties — without having to change jewellery.
Finally, the digital revolution all boils down to building awareness. In diamonds, for instance, the “four Cs” (clarity, cut, colour and carat) — at times the knowledge about this, and the Forevermark certification, is very limited. We can count on people doing their research online, and flipping through social media, to build this awareness.