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'Luxury is on way to becoming more inclusive'

In a freewheeling chat, Stephen Lussier, Executive, Vice President, Marketing, De Beers Group, revealed how the profile of diamond buyers has been undergoing a change over the years, and how Forevermark has devised upon a country-specific campaign to penetrate deeper in the Indian market dominated by traditional jewellers.

What has the journey of Forevermark in India been like?
The journey has been a phenomenal and extraordinary one. Come to think of it, even 10 years ago, there was no Forevermark in the world. And now, Forevermark has come to
become a leading luxury diamond brand globally. In India, now, Forevermark sells in partnership with almost all big retailers. If I were to give you figures, India is now the No. 2 in the country, after China, in the number of diamonds we sell across the world. So, it has been one fantastic ride in itself.

In India, who are your primary buyers? Has the buyer profile witnessed a change over the years?
Sales in India is primarily driven by two factors: One, the emotional gift-giving among younger marriages, say people who have been married for 5-10 years, and want to mark the milestone with a diamond. At the same time, weddings in India are big, and almost everyone associates weddings with diamonds here, and that continues to make up for a large part of our sales. Interestingly, of late, there has also been a spurt in self-purchased diamonds, particularly in India and China where there are a large number of younger buyers unlike in America, where the core buyer is in the older bracket. With more and more women becoming economically empowered, there is a lot more opportunity for us to grow in the self-purchased diamond jewellery market. In some ways, I think that diamonds appeal to young women because they are a symbol of strength and confidence.
We want to position our diamonds as modern, wearable and symbolic of important events for independent women. So, we make sure that every diamond bought from Forevermark is not only extraordinarily beautiful but also carries emotional value. This stems from the belief that diamond always has a story (memory or achievement) behind it, and we as a brand are successfully carrying it forward.

India is an extremely price-sensitive market, and families have their own jewellers they have been going to for years. How difficult has it been breaking into this segment?
Honestly, buyers across the world are price-sensitive, but at the same time, they also want a product they can completely trust. In India, jewellery is almost never an investment, instead, it carries a lot of emotional value, and I agree, most families have these jewellers they have been going to for years now. Part of our strategy in India has been to make the brand available in all the markets, and increase distribution, which we have been successful at. We have now established tie-ups with almost all big jewellers in India in tier 1 cities; now we are reaching out to smaller jewellers in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, showcasing to them our natural diamonds.

With our knowledge and expertise, we are able to help them bring beauty on board without significantly adding to the cost of the final products. It is now a known that our rigorous selection process complete with the Forevermark inscription, ensures that our diamonds are certified, rare and responsibly sourced, so, it is a win-win for the consumer, who knows what he is paying for. This has aided our sales in a major way, and helped us win customers along the way.

Finally, as a player in the luxury market, how would you say the luxury space has evolved? How has Forevermark been keeping up with the same?
The market across verticals in luxury is increasingly becoming brand-dependent. Brand awareness has shifted from exclusivity, quality and financial wealth to inclusivity, craftsmanship and social purpose. Demands are created not after the young generations searches for a product, but is impressed by the aura of its brand. In keeping with this, Forevermark’s collections are not just for the super elite; our promotional language has always been very welcoming. We stay true to the brilliance of handcraft so as to
make unique products. Finally, initiatives such as the He for She campaign and elephant translocation from South Africa to Mozambique for ecological preservation also speak volumes about Forevermark’s brand ethics.

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