Rapaport Magazine

An Affordable Tradition

By Zainab Morbiwala

Nazraana Ganesha pendant.
In September, Rio Tinto will begin its 2014 seasonal campaign promoting Nazraana, its jewelry brand for Indian audiences. Rapaport Magazine spoke with Vikram Merchant, manager Indian representative office, Rio Tinto, to find out about the various activities being planned by the brand in India and his views on the recently held India International Jewellery Show (IIJS).

Rapaport Magazine: Let’s begin with your news on the current activities being undertaken by Rio Tinto specific to the Indian market.
Vikram Merchant: Nazraana is Rio Tinto’s flagship initiative for India. Nazraana promotes affordable diamond jewelry as the perfect alternative to traditional gifts. We launched seven new collections during India International Jewellery Week (IIJW) in July. The new collections appeal to a broad segment of Indian consumers and offer gifting choices for every occasion. The launch was preceded by exclusive showings to retailers in Delhi and Kolkata and was followed by sales opportunities during IIJS. So all the trade events took place in July. Consumer promotion for the brand will now commence in September, when the new collections will be in stores.

RM: How would you rate IIJW and IIJS 2014? Businesswise, how were they?
VM: As title sponsors of IIJW 2014, Rio Tinto was pleased with the event and the opportunity to highlight our Nazraana initiative. The Nazraana fashion show was a double segment that enabled us to present Rio Tinto’s 25-year association with the Indian diamond industry alongside the launch of seven new Nazraana collections. The event was well attended by both consumers and the trade. The visibility Nazraana received from the subsequent press coverage more than justified our participation. IIJW has established itself in the Indian jewelry calendar. The media buzz it generates ensures that our product is top of mind with consumers in the lead-up to the festive season.
   IIJS, on the other hand, has become the leading jewelry trade show of India. This year, the prevailing economic conditions kept retailer optimism low and therefore order taking was slow. However, we found that retailers were looking for something new and Nazraana, with its affordable gifting concept and differentiated product, provided this with the promise of higher margins. So, it was a good show for us.
   Going forward, IIJS is already more of a jewelry rather than loose stone show, and display preference, when available, should be given to jewelry manufacturers.

RM: In terms of the Nazraana line, what innovations have you added to the designs to suit the Indian taste and what, if any, marketing/sales initiatives have you undertaken for the seven new collections launched?
VM: The Nazraana product development has been a very exciting process led by an Indo-international team of Hemant Shah, Indian jewelry expert and innovator, and Paola De Luca, Italian jewelry designer, consultant and trend expert. Taking insights from consumer market research, we have developed themes and interpreted them into design inspirations to guide our Nazraana jewelry manufacturers in translating these inspirations into designs and collections that will appeal to a wide range of regional preferences. Each jewelry piece has a Nazraana iconic motif integrated into the design. Our approach has been to create a highly aspirational brand that is available at an affordable price.

RM: 2015 is when the rough from Argyle will start pouring into India. Any loose ends that you would like the industry in India to tie up before this happens?
VM: For the past two years, we have been engaged in a program that improves technical and workplace standards of small- and medium-sized units in Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar and rural parts of north Gujarat. The approach has been to keep workers engaged and motivated. At the same time, we have been developing market initiatives that promote the Argyle end product in the U.S. and emerging markets of China and India. Our manufacturing and marketing initiatives are maturing at the same time that additional volumes are coming to market.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - September 2014. To subscribe click here.

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