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The Golden Run

BY Aryan Khanna

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‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ is a stellar 2022 movie that bagged multiple Oscars. Well, the movie’s title is also the approach that several jewellery brands from the southern half of India have embraced in recent times. Brands such as Kalyan Jewellers, Bhima Jewellers, Malabar Gold and Diamonds, and Joyalukkas are supposedly in the midst of an expansion phase; adding new offerings, targeting new locations and consumers, and opening new stores. In this process, we are seeing big stars tying up with these brands for large-scale campaigns, strong dominance of these brands outdoors, and multiple influencer collaborations in this space, which is eventually shooting up the ad spends.

Jewellery brands from southern India are going above and beyond to take their game to the next level. Be it the opening of new stores or tryst with Digital or the galore of regional collaborations, these brands are doing everything they can to achieve a wider reach and presence.

Dhiraj Khanna, Associate Vice President & Cluster Head, Mudramax, while taking note of the ad spends of these brands from South, says, “When it comes to jewellery brands from South, we saw a 5% growth in media spends in 2023 when compared with 2022. The estimated jewellery category spends within Print in the South stood at Rs.2310cr in 2023, up from Rs.2196cr in 2022.” Quoting BARC and TAM data, Khanna adds that if we look at the increase in television GRPs, the number rose from 74469 in 2022 to 80806 in 2023.
Industry professionals, who are cheering the rising ad spends in the space, are also noticing that these jewellery brands from the South are opening multiple stores at different locations, which is eventually fetching them good results. Big names such as Kalyan Jewellers are now seeing over half of their sales coming from regions beyond the South.

Kalyan Jewellers is present in around 20 states in India and also some countries like UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait. But the brand aspires to do more. While talking about the sales distribution and media spends, Ramesh Kalyanaraman, Executive Director, Kalyan Jewellers notes, “Currently, close to 45% of our sales come from the South of India, but this will be further reduced on the back of our Northward expansion. In the last three years, Kalyan Jewellers has maintained its advertising spends at approximately two percent of its revenue. It comes to around INR 300cr. annually.”

Bhima Jewellers, already touted to be among the biggest players in the South, is notably contemplating expansion, starting with Maharashtra. Giving a sneak peek into the expansion plans of his company, Vishnusharan Bhatt, Managing Director, Bhima Gold Pvt. Ltd. shares, “Retail expansion coupled with customer centricity are the key contributors to solidify our national position. We are strategically expanding our footprint with a sharp focus on Karnataka while planning to venture into Maharashtra. We aim to open 10-20 stores in these states within the next two to three years.”

Similarly, Joyalukkas is also actively working towards expanding its presence to regions beyond the South. At the same time, the brand also wants to further solidify its dominance in the Southern belt. Giving an idea of the brand’s vision, Joy Alukkas, Chairman and Managing Director, Joyalukkas Group informs, “Joyalukkas has long established itself as a dominant force in the jewellery market, with Tamil Nadu at the forefront of sales and strong markets in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, and Kerala. Beyond the south, Maharashtra stands out, complemented by our growing presence in Delhi, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, Haryana, UP, and Punjab. Our strategy continues to focus on solidifying our dominance in South India while progressively enhancing our market share in other regions.”

While big names have been attempting to extend their reach for some time now, there are smaller brands like Karnataka’s Aabushan, who, despite having a good clientele in states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, and even in some countries abroad, are relatively new to using marketing. They have recently started to explore the space.

Shedding light on his brand’s marketing strategy, Vishal Bohra, Managing Partner, Aabushan says, “Our ad spending has increased by 100% as we were not running any marketing campaigns or ads before and we only started it last year. We now deploy both conventional and unconventional marketing strategies, which include a mix of outdoor marketing as well as digital media to promote and position ourselves.”

With many online brands coming into the picture and thriving, traditional brands have realised the importance of having a Digital presence, whether it is for product display, selling, or even communications. In recent years, there has also been a phenomenal increase in screen time spent by Indians towards digital, social media and OTT platforms, making it imperative for brands to align their marketing budget towards new-age mediums.

Continuing with this thought, Laj Salam, Founder and Managing Director, Plainspeak, the agency that has worked with Bhima Jewellers on multiple projects, brings to our attention, “Earlier, jewellery brands of South were more inclined towards traditional mediums of advertising, but the changing consumer behaviour is shifting the wind in favour of Digital. The younger generation prefers personalisation in their products as well as communications, and therefore this shift.”

Along similar lines, Jimmy Thomas, Director, Brand Communication of ad agency Organic BPS, who has worked with big players like Edimannickal Group elucidates, “In the last few years, we have seen many new online sellers and brands enter the space, and they are doing good business. This has even inspired bigger players to enter the space, and hence we are seeing an unprecedented focus on Digital.”

There is a lot of chatter about how brands like Bhima Jewellers, Kalyan Jewellers, and Joyalukkas are adopting a hyperlocal approach to achieve their targets. Industry experts like Laj Salam are observing that brands in the space are leveraging a multi-channel approach for larger visibility.

Acknowledging the benefits of hyperlocal strategies, Ramesh Kalyanaraman voices, “The hyperlocal strategy has been an integral aspect for the brand, be it our product offering across showrooms or our marketing campaigns championing the brand. We aspire to appeal to a wide audience by attempting to understand the local market preferences and trends in various geographies, which has been one of the key reasons behind the brand’s success across the country.”

On similar grounds, Vishnusharan Bhatt remarks, “By adopting a hyperlocal approach instead of a one-size fits all communication, we are not only driven towards growth but also customer centricity. Offerings such as collection customization at the store level by the preferences of the customers within a 10-15 km radius of the store are aimed at providing tailored experiences that have a hyperlocal resonance.”

Taking the conversation further, Joy Alukkas notes, “We understand the importance of cultural relevance and local engagement. Therefore, we deploy hyperlocal strategies tailored to specific regions. This involves creating localised content that reflects regional festivities, customs, and preferences. This approach helps us to build a strong emotional connection with our customers and ensures that our brand remains relevant to their unique cultural contexts.”

Within the South market, Kerala is a big player, boasting brands like Kalyan Jewellers, Bhima Jewellers, Malabar Gold and Diamonds, Joyalukkas, and many more. The state’s predominant love for gold and gems when mixed with its craze for stars becomes a perfect recipe for marketing.

Dominic Savio, Managing Director, Buzzstop Integrated Communications, an agency that has been part of the communication of brands like Bhima Jewellers and Joyalukkas, elucidates, “Kerala is home to some of the biggest brands in retail jewellery segments in the country. Big or small, most jewellery brands from Kerala are smitten by celebrities and they collectively spend over 500cr. on celebrity endorsements, which is 40% of the state’s total celebrity endorsement share. Our fascination for glittering gold and shining stars never ceases to exist.”

In the dynamic landscape of Indian jewellery retail, southern brands are not just expanding their horizons but also redefining marketing norms. Their strategic shift towards digital platforms, hyperlocal campaigns, and celebrity endorsements reflects a keen understanding of evolving consumer dynamics. This multifaceted approach is not only enhancing their national presence but also setting a new benchmark for customer engagement in the glittering world of jewellery.

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