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India can become major Diamond Jewellery market – Richa Singh, Managing Director – India, Diamond Producers Association

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Just one in 10 women in India owns a diamond. In China, the figure is one in five. In the USA, seven in 10. These figures point to a potentially enormous growth opportunity. A new, high-stakes, industry-led global campaign to return the diamond to its prime position in the Indian consumer imagination — to give the gem back the emotional connect it once had — is under way.

The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) is working to boost diamond consumption in India, by reviving category marketing initiatives and collaborating with industry stakeholders. Richa Singh, managing director–India, DPA, tells us why the Indian market is important and what opportunities it holds out.

The Retail Jeweller (TRJ): In a career spanning 20 years in high-image consumer goods marketing, including four years in advertising, you have worked with a number of different brands. What key learnings do you bring to this new position?

Richa Singh (RS): My two decades of experience across industries have enriched me with a thorough understanding of the media landscape. I also have a deep dive into consumer insights and an understanding of the Indian woman. Such varied exposure will help me build strategies capable of creating an emotional bond for diamonds among consumers. I have spent my career changing perceptions and building categories, and I hope to work with the relevant stakeholders to champion the growth of this category.

TRJ: What particular objectives will the DPA aim to achieve in India, under your leadership?
RS: In 2015, the top seven miners, representing as much as three quarters of the world’s diamond production, came together to form the Diamond Producers Association. The DPA’s immediate objective is to revitalise category marketing in India, focusing on the younger generation, with a new message that addresses their specific needs and aspirations. The DPA will aim to be a strong voice of support for the industry at large, and specifically for this sector, as well as to be a force for improvement in the sector in terms of practices.

TRJ: Until 2009, De Beers played a pivotal role in promoting diamonds in India. In what ways is the DPA’s “Real is Rare” campaign designed to be relevant to the diamond retail discourse today?
RS: An entire generation has not been exposed to any category marketing, and there is a need to build on the emotional connect of diamonds with consumers. Within the trade there has been an ongoing discussion on the need to restart category marketing and reach out to younger generations, and to highlight that a diamond is the ideal way to celebrate the journey of a relationship. That’s where the relevance of our “Real is Rare” campaign lies.

TRJ: How important is India for the DPA?
RS: We believe that India has the potential to become a major diamond jewellery retail market. It is the land where diamonds were first discovered and celebrated, and it has a robust jewellery culture. India is the world’s leading centre for polished diamond manufacture, and the world’s top diamond jewellery exporter. And yet, the consumer market for diamonds in India is underdeveloped, accounting for just 7 per cent of world consumption in value terms. Only 10 per cent of Indian women own a diamond, versus 20 per cent in China and 70 per cent in the USA. As the Indian middle class grows, we are confident that the demand for diamond jewellery also will grow. We see India building into a major market over the next decade. Our objective now is to create an emotional connect for diamonds, making them an integral part of Indian consumers’ lives and increasing its market share significantly.

TRJ: Does the DPA plan to involve retailers in its promotional and market-expansion strategies?
RS: The DPA aims to align diamond retailers with the core aspect of authenticity, in order to sell diamonds to younger consumers. We will develop learning modules for retailers which will include facts about diamonds that are meaningful and worth highlighting. These modules will help them handle consumers’ queries and objections.
Over the next 12 months we will propagate our key messages on diamonds. We intend to reach out to retailers in a phased manner. We will communicate with the retailers on our key messaging through videos and films.

TRJ: Do you have a message for jewellery retailers in India?
RS: We look forward to sharing consumer insights with jewellers. Retailers need to work towards creating a great store experience, one that befits a high-value product.
It is vital to remember that market dynamics do not transform overnight but can be made business-friendly, through dialogue, over a period of time. The Indian market provides a huge opportunity and is a significant element in the global consumer matrix of the diamond sector. We at the DPA are here for the long term. We want to work with retailers to help achieve the full potential of the Indian market.

An exclusive interview by Niladri S Nath.

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