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Pandora in India

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“We are committed to taking Pandora to every woman in India” – Devika Bakshi and Kanika Bakshi-Talwar, Managing Directors, Pandora India

The global jewellery brand Pandora is here at last. The duo who made this happen is sisters Devika Bakshi and Kanika Bakshi-Talwar, joint managing directors, Pandora India. The Danish jewellery-maker’s brand positioning in the affordable luxury category offers a great opportunity, as this is a relatively under-served segment of the market. Customers are responding enthusiastically to the brand’s two stores so far in the National Capital Region. In a wide-ranging conversation with Brian Parker the two entrepreneurs speak with refreshing candour about the brand, their vision, the product, pricing and marketing strategies, the future prospects and much more besides.

The Retail Jeweller (TRJ): Pandora, one of the world’s iconic jewellery brands, finally arrived in India this year. You both played a pivotal role in bringing it here. Please tell us how your association with Pandora happened.

Kanika Bakshi-Talwar (KBT): India was the last big market, in terms of population and GDP, left for Pandora to explore. We all know how tough it is to enter the Indian market. Pandora needed a local partner who fit the brand. It is a very young organisation, and it needed young and trustworthy partners here who would understand and love the brand. Pandora actually approached us but it took two years to finally get things rolling.

We realised that this was a company whose target market was the young generation. There is a huge gap in the Indian market, and that is affordable jewellery. We wanted to fill this gap. Few young consumers are tempted to approach their family jeweller for everyday wear. Women today tend to shop for small jewellery pieces on their own. This consumer behaviour among the target market made us really keen to work with Pandora, and we were thrilled to be able to bring to India one of the most recognised jewellery brands in the world.

TRJ: What particular market opportunities, in terms of consumer demographics, demand trends or supply gaps, that attracted Pandora to the extremely diverse consumer market of India?

Devika Bakshi (DB): The brand offers its customers the opportunity to wear hand-finished designer jewellery, made with the highest-quality metals and ethically sourced materials, at affordable prices. This is what sets us apart from the majority of Indian jewellery players, who offer more traditional jewellery. Having said that, we are planning to introduce India-centric designs. The designs are already being finalised in Copenhagen, Denmark, while production will take place in our two large factories in Thailand. We expect to launch these designs in the third quarter of this year.

TRJ: What are the initial challenges when introducing an international brand to the Indian audience?
KBT: We faced a few challenges initially in getting consumers interested in sterling silver designs and explaining that they were just as wearable as plain gold. This soon changed when consumers saw the plethora of options available at Pandora’s quality and price. A classic bracelet in solid gold, for example, costs about Rs1.1 lakh. The same design in silver would cost Rs4,000. Pandora offers women many options beyond gold, by using sterling silver in different ways. There is also the more affordable PANDORA Rose collection, which offers the glow and sheen of gold but is set in silver. The brand always gives consumers a reason to come back for more.
TRJ: Pandora’s mainstays are 14k gold and silver. Are these metals gaining acceptability among Indian consumers? What are the triggers for such growth?

DB: The current market for jewellery in India is definitely more expensive, with most options in gold and precious stones. Most women are not willing to make that kind of investment early in their independent life. On the fashion front, women are more experimental today and realise that details like accessories can go a long way in lifting an outfit. Therefore, a space has opened in the market for more affordable contemporary options like sterling silver, semi-precious stones and pearls, all of which are growing into a common trend.

TRJ: Please share with us some of the insights from Pandora’s product strategy for the Indian market.

KBT: In one calendar year, Pandora launches seven collections globally. The first is Spring, followed by Mother’s Day, High Summer, Pre-autumn, Autumn, Winter & Christmas, and Valentine’s. Changing its offering with each season draws consumers to its stores. In fact, the expectation of change has consumers coming to the stores more often in general. This encourages repeat purchases.

We have also introduced Pandora’s cornerstone product, the world-famous customisable charm bracelet. It is available in many designs. An element of the India-inspired collection for 2018 that is currently under development will be our own India-specific charm.
Not just the charm, jewellery from each of the Pandora collections is available here. Our offering includes exquisite rings, earrings, necklaces and pendants.

TRJ: What is Pandora’s pricing strategy for the Indian market, given the prevailing import duties?

DB: Pandora India has chosen to price itself as one of the most affordable and competitive in the world. You will find the Pandora pieces in India priced almost the lowest among all the Pandora markets worldwide. This is a conscious decision. We took it keeping in mind India’s competitive retail landscape, as well as the consumer mindset that leans towards the best product at the most desirable value possible.

We have taken a hit on our margin for gold in India, as the belief here is that gold shouldn’t be really expensive. We have taken an additional hit by absorbing 25–35 per cent of the import duty.
If we compare Pandora in India with Pandora in Dubai and Hong Kong, we are 20–30 per cent cheaper. The best-priced Pandora shops, however, are in the United States and Europe — but the Indian stores sell the products cheaper even than those, by 5–15 per cent.

TRJ: What specific purchase patterns is the brand targeting? What is the profile of customers visiting your stores?

DB: We focus on self-gifting. Our stores are a place where a woman can come and spoil herself by choosing her own designs. We also place a lot of focus on gifting for loved ones. Men, too, come to Pandora because we make their world of gifting easy. Our staff is trained very well to assist all customers in selecting gifts for their loved ones.

KBT: We’ve seen an increase in well-informed teenagers thronging into our stores to buy for themselves or gift among themselves. A lot more men are coming in to gift jewellery to their girlfriends, wives and mothers. Our Saket outlet in particular is becoming a one-stop shop for men looking for gifts, because of its highly trained staff. We also have elderly people coming in to buy for their grandchildren. The average age group of our customers is 20–40 years.

TRJ: What best practices has Pandora introduced in India?

KBT: The brand takes staff training and education very seriously. And they do it the Pandora way! Pandora invests a lot in training so that it’s staff knows each product inside-out. This works positively for the brand as well as for new customers. Since we have multiple selections, we have information ready in advance to send out into the market and to the press, as well as for training our staff. Pandora is extremely particular about the quality of information our staff receives and gives out. Information about the brand has to be exactly the same in India and abroad.

TRJ: What is Pandora’s promotional strategy for India? What communication media is the brand opting for?

KBT: Pandora runs its own campaigns globally, and they are followed consistently in every country market. The brand does not believe in a single brand ambassador, as the brand is for every woman. We are simply here to see what each Indian woman will do with her Pandora, individually.

The launch of the first store in India coincided with the launch of the new DO Campaign, which celebrates empowered women in every field of life. DO isn’t just two letters in the centre of our brand name Pandora, it is a belief that we share with our consumers: do things differently, be different, live differently. Pandora has beautiful and well-designed look-books, videos and images of its collections, shared almost daily via social media. We have a large fan base on Facebook and are currently building up our Pandora Club membership through our website. Members receive important newsletters and information about new collections and offers directly, by email.

Besides all this, we work with various publications, online and offline. We have a strong focus on digital marketing as well as occasion-specific events. Our in-store visual merchandising is very strong, and we change this as many as 10–15 times a year, based on the collections.

TRJ: Pandora has launched two stores in New Delhi. What is the response so far?

KBT: It depends upon how well the mall is doing. The type of mall makes a lot of difference in India. Select Citywalk, for example, is a relatively small mall in South Delhi with a wide catchment that caters to audiences that are ready to buy. Therefore, the conversion is a bit higher. But then DLF Noida is the biggest mall in India. It has all the major flagship stores and major jewellery brands. People go there to educate themselves about Pandora more than buy, so we can say that the conversion is a bit lower in Noida.

TRJ: What is Pandora’s retail expansion plan for India? How many stores are you planning to open in the next three years? What cities are you looking at?

DB: Pandora is set to grow tremendously in Delhi NCR, and we will begin to tap into the market in the western Indian states with our launch in Mumbai in mid-2018.
We see Pandora growing at a fast pace in India. As more consumers gain access to our products, the demand will continue to rise. We are committed to taking Pandora to every woman in India. To this end we envision opening 50 stores over the next five years.

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