"Diamonds are a girl's best friend!" sang Marilyn Monroe, seductively, in the 1953 hit movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The conviction has not changed since then. Think birthdays, anniversaries, special moments and what is it that will bring a sparkle to a woman's eyes? The flash of diamonds! The glitter of gold! The glorious glint of jewels!
An Indian woman's penchant for jewellery is perhaps greater than that of women elsewhere. The love affair starts from the cradle. As a baby, bangles dangle from her wrist and anklets tinkle as she moves. By the time she is a toddler, she has added earrings and probably nose rings to her jewellery casket. And when she gets married, she receives as gifts streedhan — wealth in the form of jewellery — from her parents. Adorning herself with jewellery is an everyday affair, not restricted to occasions and festivals.
No wonder jewellery has always been big business in India. In June 1995, when Tanishq entered the segment, the market was dominated by the neighbourhood sonars (goldsmiths) who would craft designs in gold for women. Sometimes the finesse would be missing; often the gold would not be pure. Tanishq, as the first brand of jewellery in the Indian market, changed all that. It promised pure gold and offered elegant designs at transparent prices.
Since then, Tanishq has built on its first mover advantage and remained the market leader through the years, despite many new entrants to the business. The company has been growing at the rate of 40 per cent per year for the past five years and has registered a turnover of over Rs750 crore in 2005-06. The target now is to achieve a turnover of Rs1,000 crore in the current fiscal.
The most important factors spurring Tanishq's success are innovation — in the business model, in design and in promotions — and the trust the Tata name evokes. "The Indian woman is a fusion of tradition and modernity, and Tanishq captures this essence in its designs," says CK Venkataraman, COO of Tanishq. "The strategy of establishing franchises across India has also helped in scaling up our retail business," he adds.
Tanishq is no longer the only brand wooing the Indian woman; Nakshatra, Sangini, Asmi, Damas et al are also in the race. The difference is that most of these are predominately product brands, while Tanishq is a retail brand, giving customers a unique shopping experience. Govindraj, VP — retail and marketing, explains, "Tanishq is available only at exclusive outlets and this was the company's first innovation. Today, we have 80 showrooms in 60 cities."
This was not the only weapon in Tanishq's arsenal. It won the trust of its customers by installing karat meters in its outlets to check the purity of gold. Tired of not being sure of the quality of gold they had bought, women were delighted. The karat meter uses the principle of spectroscopy to test the purity of gold without damage to the ornament or loss of any of the gold.
Tanishq's unique designs are created with the Indian woman in mind. Aware that a woman plays different roles at work and at home, and dresses differently for every occasion, Tanishq has created specific collections that have set a new fashion in jewellery. "We are aligning ourselves by contemporising traditional jewellery and making it relevant for them," says Venkataraman.
Tanishq's marketing and promotional strategies have been equally trendsetting. It uses a 360o approach in creating brand equity and a persona of purity, style and exquisiteness. Be it the talking billboards in their storefronts enticing customers to walk in, or the crowns it has been designing for the Ponds-Femina Miss India contest, Tanishq's marketing moves have panache. Their new campaign 'the emerging Indian woman' gracefully blends the traditional and the modern.
Another first was the special collection designed for the movie, Paheli. It was a huge promotional initiative and a bigger than ever canvas to display and promote its high-end designs. "It was the ideal vehicle to position Tanishq in the serious jewellery space as well as bring it closer to the consumer," says Venkataraman. "Indian fashion actually is actually led a lot by films. As a medium it influences customers significantly," adds Govindraj. The movie, a tale of eternal love set in Rajasthan, proved to be perfect for showcasing the vibrancy and beauty of kundan, meenakari and jadau jewellery.
No less enticing was their "19 = 22" offer in which customers could buy gold jewellery giving their 19-carat gold which was valued at 22-carat prices. "The exchange offer helped customers to get rid of the inferior gold and helped Tanishq acquire new customers," says Govindraj.
Learning the ropes
Today, Tanishq enjoys a dominant position in the jewellery industry and its customer retention is at 85-90 per cent. It wasn't so always. When Tanishq was launched, its portfolio comprised diamond-studded jewellery in western designs. The company soon realised that to succeed it required a mix of traditional jewellery and contemporary designs.
Next, they learned to value regional preferences. Designs were customised depending on the regions and markets: the seven-diamond floral motif collection was contemporised but the traditional designs of the mangalsutras remained unchanged. Jewellery showcased in stores in south India was different from designs available in eastern India. Tanishq was spreading its glitter, and fast.
Meanwhile, the business environment had also swung in Tanishq's favour. Changing consumer demographics due to rising incomes, dual incomes and exposure to foreign designs brought about a change in the way people looked at jewellery. If jewellery was once bought as an investment or as part of a daughter's dowry, it was no longer the case.
With the rise in number of working women and disposal incomes, people have begun visiting the jewellery shop more often. Weddings still remain and will remain the time when maximum money is spent on jewellery, but now impulse buying is becoming increasingly common.
Just 10-15 years back, jewellery was synonymous with gold. Semi-precious stones were popular but not diamonds. Happily for Tanishq, that has changed. The share of diamond sales in total jewellery sales is an indicator of the trend. "Tanishq has a share close to 30 per cent compared to the industry's share of 12-14 per cent. It is another indicator of Tanishq's first mover status," explains Venkataraman.
A war in the offing?
With the growth in the market and the government's decision to allow FDI up to 51 per cent in single brand retail stores, some of the world's biggest jewellery brands, such as Tiffany, Cartier and Zales, are setting up shop in India. Is that cause for concern? Tanishq is not fazed, because "Tanishq understands the Indian woman's psyche," says Venkataraman. "Indian jewellery is different from western jewellery and it will take a while for foreign brands to understand and develop the capability." Some of these brands, especially Cartier and Tiffany, are semi-luxury and luxury brands and operate in a space different from Tanishq's area of operation.
Striking the right balance between network expansion and consolidation of individual stores, and backed by its understanding of the Indian woman, Tanishq is confident it will continue to grow, innovate and do what it does best — make women look and feel special. More articles on Tanishq:
||Twinkle, twinkle, shining star |
With its emphasis on credibility, design quality and purity, Tanishq has transformed the market for jewellery in India
||The lord of precious things|
Different Tata companies with different objectives embraced the singular path of innovation to achieve breakthroughs and triumphs. Perspectives on how innovation worked wonders for Tanishq
Pioneering can be a poisoned chalice. Tanishq — as much a trailblazer in the Indian jewellery business as its parent, Titan, was in the watch industry — knows this better than most
||Tanishq: honest and transparent glitter|
Tanishq, among the top five retailers in the country, has had to negotiate many bumps and curves to reach the highway to success