INTERVIEW – Indian Jewellery brands need to stay connected to their audiences during lockdown – and beyond


Ashiish V. Patil

Ashiish V. Patil, a top Indian ad agency executive turned  entrepreneur, who has made films for the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), will give a free Jewellery Outlook webinar at 2pm UK (6:30pm India) on April 15, 2020, giving his insights into how jewellery brands need to engage in storytelling to connect with their audiences in the current lockdown  – and beyond. 

During the webinar Ashiish, who is the Co-Founder and CEO of ad agency Isspeshal Stratcon LLP, will be in conversation with respected jewellery consultant Anil Prabhakar.

Here Ashiish tells Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough about why jewellery companies must continue to connect with their customers during the lockdown. He also highlights some of the pitfalls.

Is storytelling by brands more important than ever during the lockdown, and if so, why?

For a brand to stay relevant, it has to have a strong relationship with its audience. Just like a good friend – who will not just be around during good times, but will especially stand by you during bad times. Similarly, brands need to stay connected to their audiences, in relevant conversations during these times. Not just during the lockdown, but also beyond.

Brands that fail to do so, or even misstep with faulty communication, incur the risk of becoming that insensitive/ annoying friend or relative who you’d rather block/ cut off. And I’m sure, no brand would want that.

You’d rather be the “go to” friend to your consumer in these times.

There are some brands that are doing this really well, even if they may not be serving up a product or service [e.g. Sanitizers/ Masks/ Groceries/ Medicines/ Food delivery] that’s of immediate relevance. But walking the talk with action [supporting the cause, advising the people about safety, precautionary things, celebrating their own consumers who are doing their bit, e.g. Jeep].

In the jewellery category, Kalyan Jewellers recently partnered with Sony TV Network for a public service announcement advising people to stay at home, featuring their brand ambassador, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, along with a bunch of superstars from around the South Asian film industry – Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi and Bollywood. This initiative has been very well received and helps Kalyan stay in conversation with their target audience.

#Family, Made at Home film:–S6F4

Can a brand’s story be too complicated or too dull? How does it need to resonate in jewellery markets? 

Which/ who are the stories and storytellers you remember? As a kid, they were probably some wonderful stories… your parents/ granny told you. Growing up, there were the more entertaining books and movies. As adults, the more compelling series you saw. The most memorable ones were simple and fun. It was never about the words, the pictures, the sounds – it was just how they made you feel.

If they confused you, or bored you… you don’t remember them. That’s why that dull teacher never managed to teach us anything while the more fun ones managed to not only teach us, but got us interested in learning overall.

Brands sometimes make the mistake of trying to pack in too much information, data into their stories. Save that for the annual report. Though frankly, even the annual report needs to tell a compelling story to your investors. Not bore them with data, rather use that data to excite, interest, engage them, tell a story about your plans, your success, vision.

For a category that intrinsically has emotion woven into it, namely jewellery, this is so essential.

Just the way that jewellery is a family tradition/ heritage, passed on from generation to generation, to being stitched with memories of special occasions – be it a birthday, wedding, anniversary, first pay check, etc., it’s key that brands and even categories – gold/ diamonds/precious stones – are able to position themselves right, which will matter a lot especially in rocky times. If you make them snore, they ain’t gonna enter your store!

Can you give a few examples of jewellery brands that have flourished thanks to their stories?

In India, Tanishq comes to mind for sure. They’ve been pretty consistent in putting out stories that put a nice emotional sheen with the trust of the Tata brand around it.

And often enough, they bring in a clutter-breaker/ conversation starter, e.g. the remarriage commercial they did, or the topicality of pulling Deepika playing Queen around the release of Padmavat.

Tanishq remarriage ad:

Tanishq Rivaah father daughter series:

Separately, Kalyan Jewellers have been quite good at using the Bachchans with a functional pitch of value, variety, quality.

Kalyan Bachchans Muhurat floor/ range ad:

Internationally, Tiffany’s have used the nostalgia factor to their advantage. Ever since Audrey Hepburn made Breakfast at Tiffany’s so iconic, there’s just an amazing sense of romance attached to all they do. Again, a fantastic endorsement of the power of great storytelling.

Why do some jewellers, such as wholesale suppliers, do well even though they have no obvious story? Should retailers respond to wholesalers’ stories?

Wholesalers by definition do not address the consumers directly. Their jewellery reaches the consumers via an intermediary. The retailer is the connecting link in the supply chain. When retailers do business with wholesalers, the primary motive is to buy the best jewellery at the lowest price.

Trust based on goodwill and previous experience is the most important consideration. A retailer is looking for tangible benefits and not emotional benefits.

Timely delivery, resolution of queries, fair pricing, regular meetings etc., play a role in cementing the relationship.

Storytelling happens during one-on-one meetings.

Sightholders for example, ensure best quality diamonds/ or being specialists in a particular design style, using small pearls/ or holding superior or  particular types of machines that help set jewels that the human hand can’t/ their service over the years, etc.

If they’ve been consistent about it, in whatever their story has been, that becomes obvious at a trade level.

Reinforcing that through some communication may only help in cementing it. Retailers, just like consumers, should and could respond to these stories if they resonate with them.

Mr Anil Prabhakar
Mr Anil Prabhakar