THE WORLD’S NEXT GLOBAL
BRAND FOR DIAMONDS:
How India’s GJEPC is making its country the name that stands for both quality and quantity when it comes to cut diamonds and finished jewelry.
n a global economy, branding isn’t a choice. It’s a necessity. But branding a car, a pharmaceutical, even a political candidate is one thing. Branding a country and its products is quite another.
India, the world’s leading diamond-cutting and jewelry manufacturing nation, is already on its way. The Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC)—India’s jewelry industry marketing arm—has taken up the global branding cause, promoting the country’s diamonds and jewelry throughout the world. The trade group is bolstering the “Made in India” brand, building the reputation of the country’s diamond-cutting capabilities and promoting Indian jewelry to be synonymous with fashion, quality and reliability.
As the world’s largest diamond cutting nation, it’s no wonder jewelry design and manufacturing is ramping up to attract international consumers.
“Global marketing takes persistent promotion and must be customized to gain the attention and needs of new markets,” says Pramod Agrawal, GJEPC’s chairman. Put concisely, he means building a campaign of massive, non-stop, world-wide visibility for India’s diamonds and jewelry at every leading trade show, including Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Basel, Vicenza and Munich. Besides increasingly frequent “Indian Pavilions,” GJEPC holds India Diamond Weeks and Indo-USA Business Development Conferences on a regular basis. But the group isn’t resting on its laurels. Wherever GJEPC sees jewelry consumption newly flourishing, Agrawal intends for India to be there. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, he foresees the Council “expanding its horizons” by increased participation in new trade fairs and organizing more buyer-seller meets with other nations.
“Global marketing takes persistent promotion and must be customized to gain the attention and needs of new markets.” — Pramod Agrawal, Chairman, GJEPC
But Agrawal knows brand-building isn’t just a matter of presence. It is also a matter of planning. He is keenly aware that successful global branding involves developing a two-tiered marketing campaign. The first tier is, of course, that of the industry to whom India sells its polished diamonds and precious-metal jewelry. The second tier is that of the public that buys Indian jewelry. Branding strategy differs for these two tiers.
Colin Shah, GJEPC vice chairman says, “We are building a global brand.” And he very well knows the meaning of the phrase, “Think global. Act local.” “When you define a global brand,” says Shah, “you must think in local terms. What does the buyer of your goods most need and want?”
Bringing diamonds to life: The Indian diamond industry currently employs 2 million people. Through the years, the country that originally specialized in cutting small stones has developed the skillset for cutting and polishing larger stones and fancy cuts.
Red carpet ready: Indian jewelry design and manufacturing is growing more and more sophisticated each day, ready to compete with styles and brands internationally.
Certain buyer needs and wants are universal; others are more variable. GJEPC pays attention to both with equal adeptness. Toward the fullest definition of the “Made in India” diamond and jewelry brand, GJEPC thinks, as behooves diamantaires, in terms of an industrial 4 C’s: 1) Capacity, 2) Competence, 3) Creativity, and 4) Constancy. Here’s a look at each:
India’s annual gem and jewelry exports stood at $42 billion at the end of last year. Of this amount, diamonds accounted for 55%, or $23 billion. India today manufactures more than 65% of the world’s polished diamonds in value, 85% in volume and 92% in number of pieces. That’s more than 14 out of every 15 stones cut.
The diamond industry alone employs around 2 million people. The Indian artisans have developed the unique skills of cutting and polishing small diamonds over a period of last 5 decades. Moreover, after creating a niche for itself in the diamond world with small diamonds, India has developed skillset for cutting and polishing larger stones and fancy cuts. Out of their rough forms, India brings diamonds to life – every size from the smallest to the largest.
Bain & Company’s Annual Global Diamond report for 2017 pushed India’s percentages even higher, estimating that India manufactured 90% of the world’s diamonds by value. What’s more, it said that India’s already large, modernized manufacturing infrastructure, greater efficiency and lower labor costs gave it an increasingly favorable advantage over China. In short, India is a Number One producer with very little competition.
“We want customers to feel they can expect the same attention and promptness from distant India as they would expect from anyone close by. Distance shouldn’t matter in a global economy.” – Colin Shah, GJEPC vice chairman
“We live in a world where buyers want everything yesterday,” Shah says.
How does India cope with needs for nearly instant customer gratification? Shah says it isn’t the challenge it used to be. While Mumbai may be nearly 8,000 miles away from New York City, it is only 16 hours by air. Even so, GJEPC give utmost seriousness to constant customer demands for goods quickly and as-needed. “Turnaround is a national obsession,” Shah says. “No order should take more than two weeks to fulfill from placement to shipment to arrival.” Now, that’s speed.
Nevertheless, Shah refuses to let India rest on its laurels for rapidity and responsiveness. To him, they are brand requirements. “We want customers to feel they can expect the same attention and promptness from distant India as they would expect from anyone close by. Distance shouldn’t matter in a global economy.”
India is becoming a country as famous for technology as tradition. Besides, renewed interest in its own great past of craftsmanship and design, it is acutely aware that fashion is very often regional. So, it keeps an eagle eye on every market it serves–including haute couture centers like Paris, Rome, New York and Hollywood. “We want our jewelry on red carpets at awards ceremonies, too,” Shah says.
But while creating eye-popping one-of-a-kind pieces earn publicity, it is the trends that earn the profits. India has moved to become a leader in cad-cam technology and the mass customization of jewelry it has created. Now some companies are investing in 3D technology that will allow jewelry shoppers anywhere in the world to have virtual pre-imaginings of the jewelry they purchase. Consumers will know what they are getting before they actually get it. India is helping to re-invent the jewelry shopping experience in a digital world where virtual can be realer than real.
In a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world, manufacturers and retailers want quality assurance today, tomorrow, and always. This dependability extends from establishing and maintaining high manufacturing standards to what Philadelphia-area marketer, Brian Feldman calls “hair-trigger adaptability and unrelenting competitiveness. India may have the most advanced technology, lowest costs and highest customer satisfaction rates today. But there are plenty of emerging industrial giants that want a slice of the jewelry pie. India must not just stay ahead of the pack, it must outdistance its competition in every sphere.”
GJEPC has already shown it knows what Feldman means. Besides taking automation and robotics to new heights in diamond cutting and jewelry manufacturing, it is investing heavily in state-of-the-art production facilities, and second-to-none training programs for workers.
This is where we come to the second tier of GJEPC’s global branding strategy. As you will see next month, India knows as much about consumers as it does jewelers.