Saturday, December 5, 2020
Interview

PGI Defines Its Role in Building Demand for Platinum Jewellery in India

Vaishali Banerjee, Managing Director India, Platinum Guild International (PGI)

Platinum Jewellery Trends and Current COVID Situation Explained in Details to Mines to Market By Vaishali Banerjee, Managing Director of India, Platinum Guild International (PGI)  

Highlights: 

  • Platinum Guild International rolls out opportunities for Indian Jewellery Industry.
  • Strategic efforts by PGI are capable of creating awareness about platinum as a metal.
  • PGI’s Platinum Evara caters to modern and young Indian brides.
  • PGI explains its role in building demand for platinum.
  • Every year the group organizes ‘Season of Love’, keeping in mind modern young couples. 
Q. How is platinum jewellery picking up on trends in India?

ANS: At PGI, the customer is our priority. Our focus is the younger segment & given that the metal is truly rare it feeds into a very different set of needs. We are constantly in search of social distinction & validation, the need to be unique, to stand apart. It is a mark of discerning taste & has connotations of modernity, status, class & sophistication.

Platinum is bought for moments of emotional significance & hence our designs are embedded with meaning. We design it as a marker of important milestones in relationships & life.

The platinum range is based on the needs of our audience, it reflects their value system & what they aspire for. We study trends in design & innovate accordingly by following what are compelling motivators for our audience & our culture. It is critical for designs to imbibe a mix of Indian and international trends – with a minimalism that sits at the core of it, it is what differentiates our design language & lets it sit apart.

We operate in 3 branded segments: 

Platinum Days of Love (PDOL) is a category offering exquisite Platinum Love Bands for couples. They are a marker of qualities, much sought after in relationships & cue special, intimate milestones in any relationship journey. The pieces build brand values through product stories which have complementary design renditions for the couple. The design palette for men’s bands remain more angular and classics redefined. The women’s rings are created with trend directions. For example, softer and fluid geometrics, un-round diamond outlines, the clean look of claw prongs and delicate texturing on the shanks accentuating dimensionality of the metal and stone interplay.

With Platinum Evara, we cater to the young and modern Indian bride-to-be who wants to choose jewellery that is versatile and is a means of self-expression. She looks for what is unique & lets her stand out. There is a big shift from locker jewellery to more everyday multi-occasion wear – that is where we fit in. Mindful minimalism and natural beauty are strong trends internationally as well as in India & our palette is based on it. Nature continues to inspire new forms & adaptations, & our designs are calibrated for the contemporary woman. They are recreated in a more abstract and edgier format allowing for an inimitable elegant look. Our emphasis has always been on the beauty of clean & uncomplicated fluid contours.

Men of Platinum – our offering aimed at men is based on a different approach to masculinity & success – One that is evolving to reflect milestones which are not necessarily based on the corporate rat-race driven climb. They reflect a value system that broadens the narrow, clichéd meaning of masculinity & success. Bold structural & dynamic links are the 2 themes you will see running through. Using design hooks like expanding geometrics, multidimensional and industrial utility, we have created a range that reflects simplicity & is yet based on strong and structured silhouettes. Simple design additions such as geometric mark-making, etching or brushing add interest and personality to the simplicity of the piece & exclusiveness of the metal. Embellishments such as sharp edges, loops, and diamonds are added to enhance the appeal. 

Q. Why and how has platinum become the new favourite amongst the younger generation and millennials in India?

ANS: It starts with the metal. Platinum is rare & unique – our audience is one that knows, aspires for, & appreciates that. It’s important to remember that this consumer has a sea of options to choose from today. They are very aware and have a discerning choice, especially when it comes to jewellery. The intrinsic value of the metal and its rarity makes it extremely valuable to this consumer. This is one of the strongest reasons why platinum is a strong consideration for them. They choose platinum as the ultimate expression of love, a marker of some very important milestones and as a symbol of discerning style. Platinum jewellery has a differentiated design philosophy that speaks to the young – our world view is based on minimalism. There is meaning infused in every piece of platinum jewellery and it tells a story that elicits a deep emotion from our consumers.

Our collections represent a value system that resonates with this consumer & marketing works to build a narrative that consciously differentiates us at a metal & design level.

Another factor that works in our favour is the progressive, contemporary values that we have built over time – it is something that strikes a definitive chord with this younger cohort.

Q. What made you introduce the platinum jewellery for men in India and what was the response? 

ANS: PGI India has always looked at identifying unique spaces in a gold-dominated jewellery market. The aim is to establish a strong foothold for platinum & thereby expand the jewellery repertoire. PGI’s strategy of emotionally branded segments such as Platinum Days of Love and Evara have made platinum jewellery synonymous with love & moments of emotional significance.

This exciting venture came in after an in-depth consumer research program and in-market testing across regions. The men’s jewellery category opportunity was tested with key strategic partners to measure its true potential and saw immense success reporting close to 40% growth in sales, & that evidence only emboldened our decision. From a business perspective, men’s jewellery has always held immense promise simply because of the way it gets designed. It is always on the bolder, masculine side & hence at any given point contributes to greater volumes. It will help accelerate our growth. From a retail standpoint – men most often accompany their partner on a jewellery buying trip. Platinum for men also would allow retail to maximise footfalls & earn a higher ROI.

Added impetus was the fact that male grooming categories were seeing growth. From a consumer context, there is increased affluence, global exposure, higher individualism, a stronger desire for exclusivity – these forces only further support our reason. Also, it is a category that is surprisingly under-leveraged in terms of a branded offering. 

The initial response has been very encouraging with most of our partners quoting 30-33% growth in the category despite very early stages in the brand life cycle.

Q. Please explain the role of PGI in bringing up the sales graph in India?

ANS: Jewellery is bought to satisfy various consumer needs & gold’s association with most of them is powerful. Right from the onset, it has been imperative for platinum to build a differentiated space, to unlock newer segments & spaces. At the same time, the criteria for establishing a successful & sustainable platinum business at retail has been creating strong relevance amidst a younger TG. Given the demographic skew of India & their inherent propensity to want what reflects their value system, platinum could feed & fuel their aspiration. The need to acquire what is considered to be modern, contemporary, & unique symbols that create social distinction & represent their self-image.

We have invested the last decade in building values to strength so as to gain a strong foothold in a cluttered jewellery market. Basically, to fuel demand with a steady young consumer stream while building substantive ounce growth.

Our strategic efforts, aimed at creating awareness, education, and aspiration around platinum as a metal, remain a top priority. At a branded level we ensure that we unravel newer segments as we have just done with men. We also embed the meaning behind each piece which allows the consumer to pick it up as a valid choice based on its emotional meaning.

We partner with our strategic partners giving our inputs where it helps right from design, to merchandise mix, to marketing, & conducting rigorous training models that help with metal education – enabling the sales staff to sell. Other key strategic initiatives have included platinum in the gold section – an initiative aimed at capitalizing on consumer desire for platinum by upselling. The bi-metal product that we have conceptualized is stocked in the gold section & helps lower any barriers of entry into the category.

It is encouraging for us to see our efforts pay off – we see platinum grow at an average of 18% YOY amidst our strategic partners. Our appeal has spread beyond metros today. Geographies like Baroda & Cochin feature in our top 10 markets and almost 60% of the traffic to our websites is from beyond the key metros.

Q. What are the important steps being undertaken by PGI for enhancing awareness about platinum?

ANS: Building demand & desire for platinum is our key role & hence awareness is where it all starts. Added to it are our efforts to build education of the metal’s unique qualities with all our stakeholders. It is what helps build value for the offering & not resorting to any creation of substitutes.

Our marketing programs have always been holistic, catching our young audience on platforms that are relevant to them. Hence, you’ll see our emphasis on digital on one end without forgoing the mass reach & stature building that traditional mediums offer. From a digital point of view, content is key & we cover social media, of course, the whole Google display network, & ecosystems of Facebook, IG etc. We also add visibility with video assets using YouTube & other OTT platforms. Publisher & aggregator destinations help to build our reach & drive our messages, whether on metal qualities or the emotions that a piece symbolizes. We also invest in influencer marketing to build a positive circle of influence & aspiration around our offering. Our targeting is always based on affinities & interests – therefore making it sharper.

On the trade front, apart from the training modules that we aggressively conduct, we also organize Season of Love – our annual signature property. Today it is one of the biggest retail activations within the industry. Season of Love is the only time that the purchase of platinum is rewarded. The initiative drives both discovery & acquisition for us at retail. For fence-sitters, it serves as a strong reason to convert enabling a broadening of the segment.

Q. What is the future of platinum in India, considering the current Covid-19 situation?

ANS: The Covid-19 situation has caused unprecedented challenges in India as well as globally. When it comes to consumer sentiment, of course, it’s been impacted – our TG, however, being younger is more optimistic & resilient. Research suggests that they feel we will be able to overcome the situation if we stick together. Home quarantine hasn’t wiped out their spirit – they are using this time productively to upskill, experiment, & stay connected despite the distance. This downtime has also provided the opportunity for self-introspection & many have turned out grateful for what they have – cherishing their relationships even more. When it comes to spending it will be more deliberate but not unnecessarily curtailed.

Consumers will lean towards meaningful brands for positive reinforcement as they step out to reclaim their life. They will seek to celebrate meaningful relationships and milestones achieved.

The platinum brands are perfectly poised to fit into this mind-space. We have always stood for a celebration of love, life, & relationships.  Our brand track supports this intent – platinum today is desired as a symbol of love, it is used to celebrate milestones, & is the choice of today’s generation.

Our portfolio enables multiple points of entry basis life-stage. Platinum Days of Love, for instance, celebrates modern love built on values of mutual respect, equality, appreciation, and friendship. Many consumers are experiencing these values of love through the lockdown. As they come out of the crisis, they might want to celebrate their relationship which has been tested through these difficult times. Even for Men of Platinum – certain values are appreciated now more than ever, & consumers may want to celebrate the values that helped them tide past.

At a design level, given our role in emotionally significant moments, each piece is embedded with meaning & that might have a stronger role to play as we go forward.

 

Mines to Market
the authorMines to Market
Prashant Rathod

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