D'damas is one of India's leading jewellery brands and the most widely available with a presence in over 300 cities. With its basket of very powerful sub-brands like Lamhe, Glitterati, Vivaaha, DER, Solitaire and Saumya, it has unique and contemporary designs to suit every emotion, moment and occasion. In conversation with R.K Menon, COO, D’damas, we find out more about the expansion route he intends to take to follow in the footsteps of the parent brand Gitanjali, which today stands as India’s largest jewellery brand.
AP: Is the branded jewelry market attracting consumers or does the initial resistance still exists?
RKM: The consumer market for branded jewelry has risen commendably by almost 30%; this is credited to the rise in disposable incomes of people. This trend is uniform across cities and towns; it is not limited to certain demographic or geographic pockets. Secondly, showrooms like this increase the acceptability of people to come out and shop- it is the same trend that was witnessed with the coming in of shopping malls. The ambiance and aesthetics of a shop/ mall or complex add to the salability.
AP: Does the real estate price rise affect the store expansion plan?
RKM: Regarding the real estate scenario, the growth or the present bubble is around the residential sector. The commercial side is pretty much sane today. It was pre 2007-08 when the prices were really very high, now they are much better, we can really get good locations at much affordable rates, this has also prompted us to open new stores and expand at a much faster pace. We were going slow for the past two years, but now we’ll make up for the lost time.
AP: What is your marketing strategy for the D’damas brand?
RKM: D’damas is the mother brand and there are six sub brands under this category, through which we aim to cater to different demographic segments.
First one is Lamhe which has simple designs and is meant to be the first diamond in anyone’s life. Gliterrati is for someone who is very comfortable wearing diamonds- it is basically cocktail jewelry with a lot of style quotient added to it. Vivaaha goes by its name and is all about wedding jewellery. Solitaire is about the once in a life time purchase, here we have high end solitaire diamonds. Der is our diamond engagement rings brand followed by Saumya which comes in as a gift that ushers prosperity in life. Each helps us give an edge over others in the market.
Other than these brands, we also come up with new designs during the festive or wedding season, like on the occasion of Christmas, we launched designs of 8 diamond crosses. Our marketing strategy is layers across towns, demographic strata and across the occasions when they tend to buy and wear them.
AP: What is your retail expansion model?
RKM: We are present in all trades in the SIS (shop in shop) model. We have tie-ups with Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop, and Westside. Where ever they go and open a mall, we move in with them. We have 28 franchised outlets at present, and we aim to make that 50 by March and 80 by December 2011.
We are also into the distribution business which gives us a larger footprint. Through the distributors and small jewelers, we are present in about 325 towns- that makes us the largest available jewelry brand in India. Our distribution model works in the same line as that of the FMCG model, where the distributors cater to the local retailer. The aim is to get to the consumer, who need not always be placed in a metro town. So we take up the best plan according to the situation.
AP: What are your promotional measures, do you go in for customization?
RKM: We have something called the ‘Me Jewels’ concept, you can come, select your design, select your stones, what sort of mounting you want and we make it for you accordingly. But this is still in a very small section. First, you need to develop the comfort level in your customers towards wearing and accepting the concept of branded diamond jewelry. Once they feel content with what you have and have developed their own taste (which in case of diamond jewellery takes a long time), they will seek to create their own designs- hence the market for that is really marginalized.
AP: Are you planning to diversify in avenues other than jewellery?
RKM: Nothing formative right now but we are looking at the corollary markets, it could be accessories or high end luxury watches. But again, the luxury watches segment is very selective and difficult to penetrate.
AP: Do you think that the jewellery sales follow a seasonal trend?
RKM: In gold we can say yes, but in case of diamonds, it’s a spur of the moment purchase. Women tend to buy diamonds if they are in a mall and perhaps are feeling great or in a bad mood. There isn’t much thought into it because- buying a diamond could round up between five to seven thousand rupees unlike gold that would require a minimum investment of twenty thousand rupees.