Up and Close: Millennial Buyers
The great challenge for brand owners seeking to capture the affiliations of millennials is how to communicate to a generation with shifting preferences and loose brand loyalties and for whom no single channel appears to predominate. Sociologists, political scientists and other theoreticians around the world try to understand the characteristics of the millennial generation: what do they care for, what are their aspirations and desires? The jewellery industry also keeps an eye on them to upgrade its own operations in order to match the expectations of this upbeat generation.
Times have changed. Buying jewellery is not just about sitting at a trusted family jeweller’s shop and choosing from whatever limited options he has to offer. With the availability of certified products, combined with wide-ranging of choices offline as well as online, the customers today like to explore their options everywhere and buy jewellery only when it suits their taste. They are well-aware of Indian and international trends. They do not settle for anything second best. Run-of-the-mills designs are no-no for them. This is our millennial generation that is very clear about what they want.
Insights into millennials’ life
Shimul Mehta Vyas, Professor National Institute of Design (India) explained: “Today’s millennials are globally connected and are adept in a technologically enabled mobile society. They are used to disruption and creation of a new paradigm shift. It can be slated as the fourth industrial revolution that marks the fusion of the physical, digital and virtual worlds. They are professionally inclined and spoilt for choice. Jewellery is a good communicator. The new age consumer is individualistic and unafraid to disagree or experiment. They have innate inborn confidence. They are characterised by value shift, luxury redefined, product offerings, attitudinal changes and value changes.”
Eminence of millennials has grown to be very important for the jewellers, as they form a huge part of the country’s population with distinguished requirements, reveals Chitwn D Malhotra, founder and lead designer, Dillano Luxurious Jewels Pvt Ltd. “Millennials have their own prerequisite preferences, as they look for something that is versatile and contemporary. It is important to contemplate what they are looking for. Millennial specific collections should be launched considering their taste. Price is also a big factor which needs to be appropriate,” she mentioned.
In a free-wheeling conversation, Bhavana Jhakia of Om Jewellers, Mumbai, pointed out that millennials like other buyers want value for money but what sets them apart is the fact that they don’t shy away from experimenting and they are very clear about what they want. “An ideal millennial would not necessarily be interested in going through hundreds of designs or spend hours at a stretch in choosing their jewellery. They want something that reflects their individual taste and style. They are usually interested in things which can be worn regularly and doesn’t limit their option in clothing or accessories,” she added.
Know your customers first
According to Vaishali Banerjee, managing director India, Platinum Guild International, millennials today want to wear jewellery that empowers them and projects a very personal, defined sense of self. “Millennials look for emotional value, craftsmanship and meaning in every piece of jewellery they acquire. They are charmed by minimalism and appreciate elegance in design. While they have innumerable social connections, they hold precious inner circle and jewellery to them is a symbol of the bond they share with their close ones. They do not buy jewellery as objects to be tucked away in a box but they buy jewellery to create memories and mark milestones. Jewellery has to address these needs to continue to occupy a significant place in their life,” she revealed.
Jewellery designer, Roopa Vohra opined that Instead of just focussing on what celebrities wear in films or on the ramps, the media should talk about how common people love to adorn themselves. They should present the viewpoint of a professional, a housewife or even a college goer on jewellery should be reported. “The first thing that needs to be done is that the media needs to go beyond its Bollywood obsession and write about real people and their ventures and journeys. This will help create increased awareness about different products and jewellery is no exception,” she said.
Lustre of jewellery vs lure of luxury products
Highlighting the threat posed by other luxury products, Shehzad Zaveri, creative director, Minawala said that “The industry is losing market-share to other luxury products like smart-phones, designer handbags, luxury cars, fancy vacations, watches, etc. Earlier, people would buy jewellery when they had surplus money. They always looked at it as a future investment. But now, there are many other options like schemes and share market for the millennials to invest in. That apart, they have taken a shine to gadgets and high-flying brands too,” he added.
Sharing the same sentiment, Aakash Barmecha, creative director, Yoube Jewellery Ltd, said that “Fortunately or unfortunately, jewellery is no longer at the peak of the luxury market. It’s just another lifestyle choice. That’s great in a way because now jewellery is something one wants to buy more often as a symbol of their personal style also, rather than just for an investment purpose. On the other side, it will ensure that we jewellers offer not just beautiful and distinct pieces of art but a complete product line, along with superior quality and services that the millennials have come to expect due to other competing luxury products that strive to offer a complete ‘brand’ experience,” he explained.
A lifestyle choice, not an investment
One of the primary reasons for buying behaviour to change is that consumers are not just looking at buying jewellery for traditional or investment purpose. They are looking to buy something that has an emotional connect as well as a multiple aesthetic compatibility.
Jewellery designer Reena Ahluwalia elaborates: “Millennials are all about self-expression and values meaningful, minimal adornments which leave a lasting emotional impact. They don’t see jewellery as an investment but a way to express themselves and thus, they want jewellery to define them and not the other way around. They love rare pieces such as green diamond adorned jewellery or love- locked pieces. Today’s jewellery designs therefore are all about visual symbolism and memorable thoughts.”
Reinvent, to be relevant
Millennials are young, entrepreneurial kinds, who are short on concentration (apparently), big on ideas and individuality and have a fresh set of values. Fuelled principally by the need to appeal to a new and very different generation of clients or potential clients, today jewellers find themselves at a pivotal moment and reinventing themselves is the only way forward.
Speaking in Indian context, Sachin Jain, president, Forevermark India, updated that lately, Indians have shown appreciation for minimalistic pieces with contemporary designs. “We have observed that as the time passes, the tastes get modernised and that is what has been seen among the young Indians. Their need for the perfect jewellery piece involves subtle and delicate pieces and hence, single solitaire, modern versatile jewellery which has the multi-wear-ability option and can be worn on different occasions is what they will prefer,” he shared.
Ishu Datwani, founder, Anmol Jewellers, suggested that “Millennials look for jewellery that can be worn every day. Whether you talk about professionals, entrepreneurs or homemakers, they all like to wear jewellery that does not cause hindrance in their everyday activities. We, therefore, need to design more lightweight, wearable and price-point jewellery which would appeal to the millennial consumers. It has to be design, design and design!” he emphasised on.
Inputs by Manju Kothari, creative director Entice, suggested that “The new mechanisms that help in making jewellery detachable and multi-functional are very popular amongst millennial consumers. This enables the wearer to achieve multiple looks from a single jewellery set. It is also fun to wear. For instance, they can wear a multiple layered ranihaar for a wedding and just by removing the additional layers, the same piece can be worn for a family dinner outing,” she elaborates.
Another winning formula is trendy and affordable designs, highlights jewellery designer Sonal Sahrawat. “Millennial always look for something that is trendy as well as affordable. To cater to them, jewellers need to offer something that is the combination of both. While exuding the trendy charm, the jewellery should also be easy on pockets as well. This will motivate millennials to buy jewellery more often,” she advised.
Owing to the picky nature of the young millennial generation, Pritesh Goyal, director and designer, SLG Jewellers, is of the view that jewellery designers must keep finger on the pulse of the millennials. “Their changing taste and preferences should be anticipated very accurately. Only after the proper manifestation of their aspirations, designers should conceive and develop a product,” he suggested.
Lower the price, higher the sale
Price is crucial, acknowledged jewellery designer Shillpa Purii. “The re-emergence of semi-precious and fashion jewellery has in a way taken over real and precious jewellery. Thanks to the steeping price of fine jewellery. Millennial consumers are already quite aware and are turning their gaze towards this kind of jewellery as well. They are affordable, they are trendy and they are versatile too. Practically, they tick all the boxes for this generation buyers,” she elucidates.
Even Ketan Chokshi, director, Narayan Jewellers – Vadodara, stressed upon the cost factor. “Today, young women and the middle-class segment have begun to opt for fashion jewellery, which is high on design value and low on cost in comparison to fine jewellery. We jewellers have to be careful and keep up with the times by offering jewellery that has a fine balance of design and cost,” he recommended.
Online channels – the game changer
Yet amidst this apparent uncertainty, the one factor that plays a role in almost every aspect of millennial consumption is the rise of online. The online players are constantly devising ways to overcome all the hurdles that may keep buyers reluctant to buy online.
Mithun Sacheti, founder, CaratLane.com commented: “The millennium consumer is simultaneously on more than one channel. One in three consumers is simultaneously on his or her cell phone while watching television. While the traditional place of discovery used to be the store or word of mouth, today this has shifted to become the social and digital media. Moreover, millenniums base their decisions on the power of knowledge and access to information. When it comes to jewellery, they no longer wear jewellery to look beautiful or to elicit compliments but because it makes them feel beautiful.”
In India, millennials will certainly make an economic mark and jewellers and industry players, who are ready to meet their needs and offer them more, stand to benefit.