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Real, rare, and set to sparkle brighter

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The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) is the organisation tasked by the global diamond industry with building consumer confidence and demand in diamond jewellery. On 8 May 2018, at Bharat Diamond Bourse in Mumbai, the DPA held a special town hall meeting to showcase its marketing programmes in the USA, China and India.

The introductory speech was delivered by Pramod Agarwal, chairman, Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). He announced that the Council has invested 0.2 per cent of the value of imported rough diamonds to help the DPA promote diamonds and help increase product value and margin.

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“We as an association of miners have a share of 75–80 per cent of the world’s rough diamond production, almost 95 per cent of non-artisanal diamonds,” said Jean-Marc Lieberherr, CEO, DPA, in his presentation. “Our aim is to sustain consumer demand worldwide and improve confidence in the product.” The DPA, he said, has a firm presence in China, Europe, India and the USA, and is striving to establish itself globally.

He outlined the DPA’s achievements to date, including its 12-month programme of international market research and its development of advertorial content. “The DPA has evolved from a $6 million business in 2015 to a $70 million one in 2018,” he said. ‘Of the total budget $9million has been allocated for promotional activities in India,’ he added.

The increase in allocation, he said, is an outcome of demonstrated results. The campaign he described, built around the slogan “Real is rare. Real is a diamond.” was launched in November 2017 in the US market. “It had a significant impact on Christmas sales last year in America, and promises to give a similar boost to other markets,” he said. The campaign was brought to India six months ago and appears to be bearing fruit.

The DPA’s partnership with the GJEPC, Lieberherr acknowledged, is two-way. The DPA has gained India-specific marketing support, expert consultation and a $2 million annual contribution.

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“There has been a gradually positive result,” the GJEPC’s Agarwal said, regarding the collaboration. “Obviously, with a bigger investment in promotion, value addition and sales will increase overseas, and India as the diamond giant will become more prominent in the international business realm.”

How is it that consumers in such diverse markets as the USA, India and China respond well to the same marketing campaign? Richa Singh, managing director, DPA (India), explained that the DPA’s researchers found that consumers across these markets intuitively grasp that “A unanimous desire for purity in real relationships tallies with the nature of a diamond’s origin, its rarity and thus its immense value.”

At the town hall meeting, Singh played two commercials in Hindi showing couples of different economic backgrounds united by the bond of a diamond. DPA’s video advertisements, she said, have some of the highest completion rates and a viewership of 6.8 million on the Internet. Leading market research agency Millward Brown, she noted, had confirmed consumers’ positive response to the two commercials.

To reach out to new markets, Singh said, the DPA intends, next, to run television commercials across social media in regional languages including Telugu, Kannada, Tamil and Bengali. “We chose these languages because of the lack of traction of Hindi campaigns in these regions.”

The plans are more ambitious even than this. “We have signed a contract with Yash Raj Films to do four upcoming digital films,” she said, “in which the diamond category will be promoted massively.”

For South India, she said, “We are doing commercials with four channels of Star TV. We are shooting with real-life star couples whose relationship, well known to all their fans, is close and long-lasting. This is enough to identify these star couples with the trust we are trying to express in promoting diamonds.”

Singh said that the DPA’s criteria for its advertisements would differ from one Indian state to another. Regionally prevalent consumer preferences, she said, would determine, among other aspects, the kind of jewellery that is featured: “For TV ads in the south, we are looking at diamonds with yellow gold.”

The DPA is also experimenting with different age groups in their digital campaigns, with the aim of capturing a wider segment of consumers.

Underlying this marketing campaign is, of course, the deep and long-standing concern of the diamond industry about whether diamonds remain a viable luxury to market to millennial consumers. Younger buyers today, according to the current narrative, spend much more of their discretionary income on holidays and expensive dine-outs, leaving less share of pocket for fine jewellery.

“Millennials undoubtedly have other options,” said Lieberherr, “but that doesn’t lessen their yearning for preciousness in a relationship, such as a diamond promises. This has been reaffirmed in the reports of our half-yearly consumer tracker on the perception of diamonds, and in campaign tests.”

An attendee at the town hall meeting questioned the DPA’s use of solitaires rather than jewellery for its Indian campaign. Lieberherr responded with the following observation.

“In the initial phase,” he said, “we want to inject emotion into the category. In India, the gifting of jewellery is a social convention, hence deeply traditional. We want to break through that thinking and promote the idea of diamond as a mark of heartfelt emotion. Romance, after all, is the cornerstone of the diamond jewellery business.”

The DPA’s remit, however, extends beyond marketing. It must also build confidence in the category. Accordingly, said Lieberherr, “We will encourage the use of high-grade detection instruments, and focus on bringing discipline to the terminology so that synthetics are never referred to in the same terms as natural diamonds. Guidelines will apply across French, Italian, Chinese, Swiss and so on, to ensure a uniformity in operational language.”

And what of the harsh and very public impact of recent scams on the reputation of India’s diamond industry? The DPA has not been slow to respond to this new threat.

“Previously, we focused on building emotional value through our advertisements,” said Singh. “After the scam was exposed, with consumer sentiment so badly hurt, we have been going all-out through PR, through articles in numerous publications, through other approaches, to educate consumers about diamonds’ origin and quality, and about the detection equipment that ensures transparency.”

With the thoughtfulness characteristic of the DPA’s work, Singh located the silver lining to the thundercloud: “[The scams are] a blessing in disguise. Our initiative can now sensitise the rational consumer and place all the information she needs at her disposal so that she may shop for her diamond without hesitation and with happiness.”

Courtesy: Retail Jeweller India News Service

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