Forevermark will expand its footprint in Tier 2 & 3 markets: Costantino Papadimitriou

Forevermark, one of the two diamond brands from The De Beers Group of Companies, has been strengthening its presence in India, with the country emerging as the second biggest market for Forevermark. 

The diamond brand is launching its Half Carat campaign in September, which seeks to create an emotional connect with consumers and at the same time providing an accessible price point for consumers to buy diamonds. 

As Senior Vice-President, Brand Strategy and Innovation at Forevermark, Costantino Papadimitriou is responsible for the global brand strategy for Forevermark and leads the global communication strategy and campaigns. He is also responsible for brand innovation, new product development and the key collections proposed by the brand. The approach to innovation also includes the full consumer experience from visual merchandising through to the digital experience, the website and digital media. 

Previously, Papadimitriou was with JWT for 27 years, during which he managed a range of local and multinational clients. 

In conversation with Adgully, Costantino Papadimitriou, speaks at length about the evolution of diamond jewellery market in India, change in the perception and buying behaviour of Indian consumers when it comes to diamonds, market trends and more. Excerpts: 

Diamond jewellery has a very exclusive tag attached to it, while gold has gone on to have a more everyday appeal. Are there any plans to introduce an affordable range of diamond jewellery from Forevermark?
We see in India the opportunity to work more on everyday core-stop purchase, it’s not really what we would define as a bridal market. Bridal behaviour is very different in the US or in China from India. You don’t go through the diamond engagement ring ceremony. Here, really it’s about buying diamonds to celebrate yourself and jewellery. Among the projects that we are working on this year is one called ‘Half Carat’, which is about inviting consumers to buy half carat diamonds. The story behind this is that a half carat is about who you are as a woman, as an individual and there is always a better half to you, and that better half is that quest to become a better person, to educate yourself, to reach certain goals, to have self actualisation and fulfilment, and so your better half can celebrate with a Half Carat diamond. 

There is an emotional connection and at the same time it’s at an accessible price point for consumers to buy, whether it’s a prime acquisition or purchase. Another strategy is to recognise the qualities of a woman as a person – be it creativity or leadership or whatever that makes her stand out, where families and husbands celebrate the women that they love rather than celebrating what she does for them. This is part of an international campaign that we launched last year that was about stackable rings and stackable pieces and so it’s really driven by product collection. These are the two really big campaigns that we’ve been working on this year and will work into next year as well. 

All our diamond jewellery are affordable, it really depends upon the size of the diamond. I think the consumer will always be able to find a price point with a collection that they like that is accessible to them. We are not doing anything in the lower range, it’s just the worth of the collections and everything we do is for everyday wear – be it rings, pendants, earrings and bracelets – people will be able to find what suits them best. 

Could you elaborate more on the Half Carat campaign for India? What is the strategy and the creative thought behind it? Which agency has worked on the campaign?
We are working with J. Walter Thompson for the campaign and the strategy is really to focus on the qualities of a woman and what we call, ‘self-actualisation’ – the things that she is proud to have accomplished in her personal life and all that she does for her family, the things that she has done and she would like to celebrate. So, the campaign idea is really about being who she is and how her better half is helping her in making the choices that will help her evolve as a better individual. When we talk about her better half, we talk about Half Carat. 

The campaign rolls out in September this year. We will be taking the regular media route comprising television, print, etc. 

Given Indians’ strong preference for gold jewellery, what is the perception regarding diamond jewellery?
I think that is a very good question. What we are seeing is that there is some change in choice and preference, and it’s really driven by economic power and the fact that people are earning more money and would like to make a distinction in what their passions are in terms of self-expression. The goal is still going to be an important market, which is still very traditional. Today, diamonds are offering consumers an opportunity to be a part of an emerging market and giving them a means of expression. It will be great for both as diamonds offer consumers an opportunity to be able to get more value for money. 

How is De Beers as well as Forvermark seeking to change this perception of Indian consumers?
Officially, we are a diamond company and not necessarily a jewellery company. We do sell jewellery, because that’s what consumers buy, but our idea is really to educate consumers about modern quality diamonds and help them trust in what they are buying, and offer them the most beautiful diamonds. I think that consumers today are open to the proposition and excited about the opportunity to purchase diamonds of all types in modern contemporary jewellery. You don’t really need to convince consumers because there is always a big appetite for jewellery in India. The real thing is that today we are introducing diamonds in a new way. 

You have been to India on quite a few occasions before. What are your impressions on India’s jewellery market? Where do you see branded jewellery positioned in consumers’ minds?
I have been coming to India for 20 years. This is a market that has centuries of history of jewellery, so there is a very deep tradition in jewellery, handcrafted and personalised; every region is completely different, so there’s a strong heritage. At Forevermark, we have been able to introduce a more western approach. We’ve moved from hand-making to technology-driven manufacturing so that the quality and precision are impeccable. 

For the last five years I’ve been working with the Forevermark brand in some projects in India. In terms of design and manufacturing, we’ve come light years ahead in terms of quality of the finished product and it’s quite extraordinary to see the speed of transformation that the manufacturing has gone through in India. I think today it is very difficult to distinguish a Forevermark piece that is made in India to something that is made in US or anywhere else in the world. We take great pride in the work that’s been done. 

What is Forevermark’s campaign strategy for India? How much is it in variance with your global strategy?
I think brands are very important for consumers, because they help them in their journey of decision making and choices; there is both a rational side and an emotional side in consumers’ selection and choice of a brand. Brands will be more and more relevant to consumers and then it’s really the story that we tell them. We tell them the story of beauty and royalty and we have emotional stories as well. We have a strong rational story – why should you be buying a Forevermark diamond – its inscription is a sense of trust in what we are buying. 

How are you looking at growing your consumer base, especially in a diverse country like India?
Over the past few years, Forevermark has expanded its presence to over 40 cities across India. We not only have our brand’s presence in Tier 1 and metro markets, but have also established in Tier 2 and 3 markets, where we have and will continue to partner with select authorised jewellers who share our brand ethos. We have also opened exclusive boutiques of Forevermark diamonds in Bangalore with CKC Jewellers and in Kolkata with IGJC. We are proud to say that globally, India is the first market to launch Forevermark’s stores. 

Our focus has always been to build a network with jewellers and create brand awareness amongst our various consumer segments. We are very happy and proud to say that our offering has been well received by the discerning and differentiated experience seeker. The growth has been steady so far and we look forward to creating and designing more collections fit for the different requirements of the Indian consumer. 

We continue to run India-focused brand campaigns. As per our Indian market research, wearing functional jewellery everyday is gaining popularity in India. Our main strategy for India is to provide the women of today what they want and desire. Women want versatile jewellery that can be worn on a daily basis in multiple ways and thus we have created designs such as the Capricci nose pin collection or  launching a collection of stackable rings, where the consumer can choose how they want to wear it. 

We see the role of women in the society undergoing a significant shift for several reasons, they now have much more spending power than in previous generations and there is a much higher degree of self-purchase than before. There are often important micro-moment purchases now which are different from the regular milestones, which give them a powerful sense of achievement and reinforce self-worth and evolving ambitions. We have come up with campaigns which target this set of new women consumers. 

Going forward, what are your key focus areas for the Indian market? What will drive growth for Forevermark in India?
Forevermark is doing well in India. Our forthcoming plans including expanding our footprint in the country to Tier 2 and 3 markets as well as partnering with our existing retailers through new product offerings and marketing campaigns. We believe that there is a large segment of consumers out there seeking to buy beautiful, natural, genuine and responsibly sourced diamonds that come with an assurance of authenticity. We have a slew of new collections coming up in the latter half of the year; we are launching a collection of half carat diamond designs, a collection of extremely versatile stackable rings called The Forevermark Tribute Collection, along with trends collections in the Autumn Winter season.


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