Evolution of Indian Jewelleries Business in the COVID-19 Era
Last year had been unlike any other, with the immediate future looking uncertain amid the coronavirus pandemic, there are plenty of hopes as well.
The contactless ecommerce sector emerged as a popular alternative during the pandemic. However, the experts remain adamant that it won’t replace physical retail anytime soon. But what does the world of jewelry look like right now?
According to Frederica Imperiali, the head of new product development, Forevermark (1), the in-store experience would continue to play a vital role. It allows consumers to partake in an immersive brand experience. Purchasing jewelry is a personal affair, and people usually choose a brand that they trust for reassurance about their investment.
Stores all across the country are following the Indian government-issued guidelines to ensure optimal safety for staff and shoppers, to offer a seamless shopping experience. For Mahesh Notandass (2), it translates to a heightened focus on hygiene and sanitation. Apart from the regulatory temperature checks, gloves and masks, it also sanitizes jewelry pieces and the premises at regular intervals. The staff has private transport, and they are taking prior appointments to ensure social distancing between patrons.
Even though the jewelry experts are not foreseeing online purchases eclipsing the in-store experience, they recommend opting for virtual appointments for initial perusals before heading to the store to make the final decision. Imperiali recommends an online consultation over video calls since it helps customers collect as many reference images as possible. Moreover, brides can also show the consultant her final outfit to ensure that all jewelry elements work in perfect synergy with the bride’s assemblage.
Moreover, people who are not looking for any public outings amid the pandemic can also call for jewelry pieces at their doorstep. Appointment selling and house calls have been a way of life for several jewelry brands ever since their inception. Brands also make sure that their executives are available on WhatsApp and the phone if families prefer this communication route (3).
While jewelry brands are adapting for a smooth transition from offline to online to make it as engaging and seamless as it can get, adding exclusivity and a personal touch can go a long way, according to Amanpreet Ahluwalia, Zoya business head from the House of Tata (4).
The coronavirus pandemic has built unique conditions for the jewelry world. It encouraged the industry to think out-of-the-box and look at ways to ensure seamless shopping by integrating virtual platforms, online shopping, and offline in-store experience to make the overall experience a breeze.
Brands offer their buyers an in-store experience via video calls and allow them a seamless video-call-based buying experience. Once a potential buyer has selected the pieces of jewelry, brands then take the selected products to the buyer’s house to try them and make the final decision.
Some brands are also taking a step further and are coming up with a virtual try-on combined with 3D images to have an intimate feel. Notably, people are also slowly adapting to virtualized experiences. Some people believe that the ambiance also gives them the pleasure of purchasing a piece of jewelry. Hence, once the ambiance is created online with personalized services, customers are bound to enjoy the new virtual experience.
The surge of ecommerce, thanks to increased smartphone and internet penetration, has introduced Indians to the convenience of shopping from their homes. Indian consumers have even gone up to purchasing electronics goods from ecommerce. However, it would take time to purchase even cars online as in the United States. Eventually, it would also become mainstream, similar to food ordering and grocery shopping.
Millennials and tech adopters, who are large in numbers, are most likely to lead online jewelry shopping in India. Moreover, women always try several designs and usually decide to purchase jewelry after consulting their friends and families. It is where virtual try-on for jewelry shopping would come to play.
It is also most likely that consumers would prefer to go to well-reputed stores, known for their clean space. Hence, brands should continue to adhere to strict sanitation guidelines even post-pandemic.
Monetizing the Trend
As the pandemic discourages people from going out to stores, high-end jewelers make a mint through house calls, with sales jumping as much as 300% (5).
A popular spin on this activity includes inviting local jewelers to intimate outdoor gatherings, creating mini backyard jewelry-shopping parties.
As jewelers transport diamonds and other jewelry pieces worth lakhs of INR, it also increases theft risks. There is also an opportunity for an Uber model of on-demand security to ensure smooth delivery and exchange.
There is one such app, Gett Guard, available in France (6). However, space is still up for grabs in India and elsewhere.
One can also level up their DIY scene and at-home tactics. Instead of cheap strings, you can do friendship bracelets braiding with luxury metal and genuine stones. Reddit jewelry (7) and jewelry-making (8) stats have doubled in the past year, with more than 52,500 and 35,000 subscribers, respectively.
Picnic is Making a Strong Comeback
In the 80s and 90s, as winter started to make its presence, December meant picnic season in India. The entire family, parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents would either pack themselves in a car or rent out a Matador (a campervan like popular road trip vehicles in the 90s) (9) for a day trip to city monuments, zoo, or parks, or a weekend away from the cities hubbub.
The big fat family would lay out large mats, bedsheets, or spreads on the ground as they play frisbee, ludo, monopoly before settling down for a packed lunch; sandwiches, plum cake, oranges, and flasks of chai. However, over the past decades, with far-flung families, staycations, busy lifestyles, and exotic vacations, picnics had become an old fashion, past relic till now.
With the coronavirus pandemic limiting parties and traveling and work from home norms, families now have more time together. Consequently, the picnic is seeing a revival.
Since March, several working professionals have moved back to their hometowns and used the entire year to bond with their extended families. Moreover, with the threat of contracting the coronavirus, open-air activities that allow for physical distancing are being rediscovered. In the pandemic, picnics have become the top contenders for wholesome family entertainment.
Exoticamp, a Chennai-based company that offers overnight camping activities, noticed a surge in demand for short day trips in recent months. Even though one-day getaways didn’t feature in their itinerary, they offered trips to destinations about 100 km away in September last year so friends and families could picnic outdoors and return the same day. Their destinations include Arambakkam’s mini waterfall, Kollidam backwaters, and Nagalapuram to hike and kayak. Families can also bring their umbrellas, food, and mattresses.
According to Sam Suresh, the co-founder of Exoticamp (10), people don’t have to travel too far with the same-day return but can get away from the crowd as much as possible. So far, the firm has received more than 250 clients. It primarily includes families with kids and the elderly who are looking for a getaway from their homes.
After several lockdown months, people are still cautious about traveling. However, those who are craving the great outdoors are rediscovering their backyards. From all across the globe, picnic enthusiasts have started building cutesy set-ups in their gardens to soak in the outdoors.
Bhawna Rao and Shwetha Gupta from Bengaluru started The Picnic Company in October last year. They had a chock-a-block schedule till the end of December 2020. They call themselves ‘the anywhere picnic company’ since they create these experiences in gardens, farms, and even backyards.
“We love the outdoors and wish to encourage others to go out, eat, play, and relive the nostalgia” – Bhawna Rao (11).
The duo set up the company with different themes for families, friends, and romantic couples. They have long and small tables scattered around with a mat in the center. They also offer picnic offers which come with a choice of Indian, Mediterranean, and Oriental cuisine, with the middle being the most popular with its hummus and cheese platter.
The clients of The Picnic Company (12) are diverse. Many mothers want to take their children for picnics, and there are also birthday parties, bridal showers, and more. The company has capped the numbers at 14 guests to ensure that each event is relaxed and intimate.
They focus on nostalgia and charms with low tables, crockery, cushions, props, and flowers. It is another advantage for millennial influencers since these curated picnics look great on social media platforms.
The trend is particularly social media-worthy with more than 170,000 TikTok views and more than 34,500 Instagram tags.
With the restrictions on indoor dining and large gatherings because of the coronavirus still in place, people were caving something new and inventing to be together outside. And the pop-up picnic experience is different and elegant since the last picnic most of us had was probably with a worn-out blanket and some sandwiches.
While several industries are losing revenues, the picnic business has proven to be one silver of the industry that is flourishing (13).
Another draw of catered picnics is they are hassle-free compared with doing it yourself. Picnic providers offer everything from picnic mats, food, drinks, wine, candle-lit dinners, and full-on decors such as fairy lights, helium balloons, backdrops, message boards, and backdrops.
Civil-line-based Yashmita Dalmia, giving an Indian twist to conventional picnic boxes, added dishes such as kanji and other desi treats like individual portions of kachori, kalmi vada, etc. She wanted to go beyond the usual cheese and crackers. With the picnic trend picking up, people can carry these to gardens and other picnic sites and recreate a picnic set-up at their home terrace with friends and family. Her customizable picnic basket starts from 1,000 INR.
Even picnic baskets are in demand as outdoor eating became popular in the pandemic. Now companies are also offering a variety of decor, kitchen, and lifestyle products like cushions and tableware to appeal to a broader demographic in classic designs and new collections featuring limited-run and holiday-themed collections (14).
Top-quality food is not the only guarantee with these boxes; they also come with some entertainment. South Delhi’s Bani Nanda of Miami Patisseries has also prepared a picnic playlist along with baskets.
She offers her baskets with a QR code to scan and check out the music choices for a little entertainment element. She added that there is a surge in demand on weekends for Miami’s Picnic pack for four people, priced between 3,600 to 3,800 INR (15).
There are several ways entrepreneurs can monetize the rising trend. Growing interest all across the country means that there is white space galore.
Opportunities include collaborating with brands as a marketing or distribution channel for their supplies, such as tablecloths, baskets, or charcuterie boards.
Entrepreneurs can also offer seasonal memberships and subscriptions. It is also worth highlighting that several brands offer igloos for the winter months.
They can also take their pop-up game to another level by setting up camping gear or delivering fishing or hiking packages directly on the online portal. According to Keywords Everywhere, Outdoors Geek is one such camping rental service. Notably, it gets more than 6,100 visits each month (16).
Gray is the New Blonde
Gray hair has been associated with aging since time. However, it is no longer the case. From Daenerys Targaryen’s awesome platinum hair to Kim Kardashian’s silver bob, this gorgeous color has been trending for a while, and Indians are not complaining (17).
After all, what is not to love about a gray hair color that looks excellent on all skin tones and makes one look like a mystical mermaid while at it?
As all countries are battling the coronavirus pandemic, our regular lifestyle has slowed down. Over the last few years, we have seen a lot of people embracing a more natural look, with several people also deciding to let their gray hairs grow in the lockdown.
With salons being closed for months, it gave people time to see the possibilities of embracing their natural gray hair locks.
While it can be a huge change for people, and the result of embracing their natural hair is very empowering, it can be a process to blend the new growth of salt and pepper with old colored ends if one is not willing to cut it off.
Spotting your first gray hair never goes well. People have cried about it and try every DIY recipe available on the web and book a hair color appointment. All these responses are normal. However, if gray hair is sprouting up often and you are tired of doing all of the above, maybe it is time to embrace these gray locks because they are here to stay.
For some people, it is not easy since gray hair is often associated with aging. However, the new trend indicates that it has become normal to develop gray hair as one ages, and people have also started to embrace it.
While it is true that people choose what they do with their appearance, it is nice to see attitudes towards gray hair is changing, and people are showing off and not covering their roots.
Louise Taylor, a hairdresser, started online tutorials for clients struggling to deal with their roots. According to Louise, embracing gray hair has several benefits, including giving your hair a break from chemicals and heat during the lockdown. It can do wonders for the condition of one’s hair as it gives hair a good break and cleanses (18).
2020 has taught people that even though gray hair is a sign of aging, it also serves as a symbol of growth and a transition into a new life stage.
Jack Martin, a professional hairdresser in California, made it his goal to empower people with gray hair and embrace their gorgeous silver hair. He continuously updates his Instagram and other social media pages with new, inspiring, and amazing transformations.
Many celebrities across the globe have talked about how they are embracing their graying hair and even their aging skins. We definitely have come a long way in terms of age shaming, body shaming, and several other pressures that people have been coping with over the years.
The stigma about gray hair has eased in the past few years mainly because silver has turned the new hair color du jour. It has become a style that has Genz and Millenials spending hours in the salon to turn their hair silver to look like celebrities such as Cardi B, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Osbourne. These days, gray is not necessarily a tell-tale aging sign but a cool trend.
For India, a country obsessed with jet-black hair and sees it as an important beauty standard, this change could be huge. We can only hope that more Indian celebrities take up social media and let the world know that they have aged without losing out to the world. Such movements can trickle the changes down to mainstream society.
Moreover, the trend also offers several business opportunities. A blog about embracing gray hair brings 6,000 to 10,000 USD a month and has a 70% open email rate (19). The rising following of Katie Emery’s Katie Goes Platinum, launched in late 2018, suggests an underserved niche hungry for more content (20).
Tips and tricks regarding managing the transition to natural gray hair, care, product guidelines, and a space to share the store with the Silver Sisterhood are only a few topics covered.
If you are also looking to jump on the blog train, it is worth noting that the Katie Goes Platinum channel gets most of its traffic from an active Facebook community.
Other opportunities include newsletters, guidelines, and products for gray hairs. According to Jungle Scout, some hair masks for gray and silver hair bring more than 2,31,000 USD a month on Amazon. Moreover, subscription boxes for gray hair products also offer an attractive option.