Indians love to buy gold. Lots and lots of it. The younger junta would rather buy diamonds now but if and when you get married I bet you will end up buying (or receiving as a gift) one bhaari bharkam 'gold set' .
That you may keep it in the bank locked up until it's time to pass on to your own offspring is another story!
Sold on gold
In the old days, you bought gold from a trusted family sunaar or goldsmith. Not that these sunaars were actually worthy of that trust. 22 karat gold was invariably adulterated and actually only 20 or even 18 karat gold.
Over time, the smarter 'family goldsmiths' made the transition to large, opulent showrooms. And though most share the common community name 'Zaveri', each is a brand in its own right.
But rest assured you are still buying on 'trust'. Every shop promises you can return your jewellery and get full paisa waapas at the prevailing sone ka bhaav(minus 'making charges'). Take the same jewellery to another shop and the fellow will shake his head and say,"Isme to milawat hai."
Given this scenario it would seem that branded gold jewellery was 'just what the doctor ordered'. In the early 90s, Tanishq entered the market with the promise of "purity". Their initial promo invited you to bring your gold and test it at their shops - to see how much ghotala your 'trusted' jeweller is actually committing.
But you know what - despite knowing you are most likely being cheated - we continue to patronise the zaveris. Tanishq - for all its promise - remains a small corporate player in a vast unorganised market.
Why unbranded still rules
a) Its locations suck: In Mumbai, Tanishq has a showroom at Churchgate. And not in Zaveri bazaar or Opera house where people go to buy jewellery. That makes no sense. Wherever there is a Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri or Waman Hari Pethe - hell or highwater - I'd want Tanishq next door!
Just like wherever there's a Barista, there's a Cafe Coffee Day - so the consumer who's decided on a coffee fix can easily walk into either!
b) They don't 'sell' well: A good salesperson can make or break a sale. Jewellery showrooms, like sari emporiums, require a special breed of salesperson. One with an intimate understanding of the woman's psyche - and in many cases the husband/ mother in law in tow.
The salesperson needs to keep showing you more pieces ("dekhiye na, dekhne ka koi tax nahin") without getting upset. Ordering tea, making small talk, offering subtle positive reinforcements - going the extra distance.
I swear the last time my mom went jewellery shopping she walked out with something 50% more expensive than what she'd intended to buy. And the sales lady was at least 50% responsible for the decision.
At Tanishq, the salespeople are polite and helpful but at the end of the day, they are employees of a company. If you walk in at 7.45 and the shop closes at 8 pm. they're more in a hurry to shut shop and head home than make a sale.
Whereas the zaveri's salespeople are additionally motivated by commissions -and the difference shows.
c) Not enough variety: Although they advertise a huge range, not every showroom actually stocks all the pieces. So sometimes you just aren't satisfied on that count. Seeing 50 kinds of bangles or 100 different saris - in order to buy ONE - is actually part of the whole experience
Getting it right
But the reason I am actually writing about Tanishq is to commend them for a new initiative.
Finally, a company which has realised that arbit 'product placement' does absolutely nothing for the brand. Something I hope many other marketers - and especially those of youth brands - learn from and follow.
In the new Shahrukh-Rani starrer Paheli, Tanishq has engineered a product placement. Rani, who plays a traditional Rajasthani girl, wears Tanishq jewellery throughout the film. But the brand receives a mention only in the credits.
The strategy is to publicise the fact that Rani is wearing Tanishq through promos in other mediums - make it a talking point - and sell a 'Paheli collection' in Tanishq stores. In an interview to Businessworld,
the brand manager asserts that "ever since the publicity campaign was launched, footfalls in Tanishq stores have almost doubled".
Here's wishing the strategy is a success and that the likes of Subhash Ghai take note. The scene in Yaadein where the mother is dying and the camera inadvertently or otherwise focuses on a Coca cola keychain was one of the worst moments in Bollywood product placement history!
A good product placement is effortless, and integral to the story. Hrithik Roshan asking for Bournvita in 'Koi Mil Gaya' the first time he went to Preity's house was a great one. You're not even sure if Cadbury's paid for that (they did)
Here's to more creative answers to the product placement paheli!