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Vijay Jain

CEO | 21 Mar 2005

“Since the launch of Orra, we have consolidated our position as the serious diamond player with an exhaustive price range. The entry-level pricing starts at Rs. 5,000 onwards and goes up to Rs. 700,000-Rs 1000,000. ”

Vijay Jain, CEO, Orra, is a very familiar name in jewellery business. He is known as a man who takes ‘calculated risks’ and succeeds at the lowest possible odds. He left a cushy job in investment banking to take advantage of the huge potential promised by India's retail industry. He became CEO of InterGold, a jewellery store chain of global giant Rosy Blue Group, in 2002. Since then he has anchored the growth story of the company. In 2004, he was instrumental in establishing a completely new brand Orra and spearheading it to the pinnacle of excellence and success. In an interview with Ashwin Kotian of exchange4media.com, he talks about the success of Orra. Excerpts:

Q. How was the year 2004 for domestic markets?

The year 2004 was a very positive one for the gem and jewellery industry. In fact, in the domestic markets, the overall thrust was on diamond jewellery even as gold continued to maintain its position. However, Indian consumers showed a distinct shift towards diamond jewellery. Our company’s turnover grew by over 65 per cent over last year. The diamond jewellery in India is 15 per cent of the total jewellery sector sized at $8 billion.

The exports posted a double-digit growth. There are positive and encouraging reports coming in about Christmas season sales in the developed markets. Interestingly, the diamond jewellery and studded diamond jewellery posted phenomenal growth. I agree that rough prices have grown 12-15 per cent in the last year or so but the trade has worked around these parameters to post commendable growth.

Q. Tell us a little bit about the group?

The Rosy Blue Group, which has a presence across 14 countries, headquartered in Antwerp, Belgium. It is perhaps the largest sight holder of DTC (De Beers). The group has been the largest jewellery exporter for 12 years consecutively from India. Today, Orra is the only jewellery company in India, which has tie-ups with the three leading jewellery organisations, DTC (De Beers), PGI (Platinum Guild India) & WGC (World Gold Council). It has design centres in New York, Antwerp, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Mumbai. The group forayed into the international jewellery business in 1888. It has recently launched its retail brand in the US. The company has come a long way from sculpting diamonds to crafting the finest diamond jewellery.

Q. It was an important year (2004) for your company due to the name change. Tell us about the same.

Orra epitomises our rich diamond heritage. The aim is to position ourselves in the consumers mind so that whenever one thinks diamonds, one should think of Orra. We have been planning to launch Orra as a fully diamond jewellery brand since the last three years. A legacy that has spanned centuries overwhelming the world with its brilliance can be summed up as Orra -- a word that epitomises the person it was created for -- her spirit, her grace and the invisible glow that surrounds her. At Orra, diamonds are sculpted to be as special as the person who buys it.

The Orra colour logo draws its inspiration from a strong foundation, based on a sterling legacy, superior diamonds and unique product offerings. Much like an exquisite solitaire that stands out and casts a spell by its sheer brilliance, the Orra blue highlights her depth without ignoring her serenity. It stands for both, the water and the sky - thereby signifying her nurturing spirit as well as her soaring ambitions. The blue also signifies purity.

Q. What is the price range for Orra?

Since the launch of Orra, we have consolidated our position as the serious diamond player with an exhaustive price range. The entry-level pricing starts at Rs. 5,000 onwards and goes up to Rs. 700,000-Rs. 1000,000.

Q. What is your retail strategy?

We are banking on our exclusive retail outlets to generate enhanced business for us in 2005-06. Positioned as an ‘Only Diamonds Store,’ it aims at bringing to the consumers the finest diamond jewellery in a world-class retail setting. Also, in the other outlets, we make sure that we have stand-alone shop-in-shops. A lot of creative input goes into the retailing and merchandising. At present, we have outlets across 15 cities. Orra showrooms will be rolled out in other metros in the next few months and we plan to set up 10-15 exclusive outlets and 50 other retail outlets across the country within a span of three years. The investment will be in excess of Rs 900 million in communication and retail endeavours.

Q. How much did you spend on advertising in 2004?

During the launch phase, we spent close to Rs. 40 million but our total marketing and communication spend is in excess of Rs. 80 million. Nearly 30 per cent of spends are on below-the-line activities. This year, we ventured into television advertising. The Orra’s launch commercial, created by Cornerstone Advertising and White Light Pictures, has a distinct European touch and would immediately remind you of the stories you would have read of kings and princesses in the Victorian era. The commercial is an attempt to recapture the brand's heritage since Orra has been around for 116 years and it was essential to portray its rich tradition. The TVC attempts to convey to its target audience that nobody knows diamonds better than Orra, as it has been there for over a century and would be there forever. The entire commercial has been shot in Malta, with a South African model whose name happens to be `India'. The commercial signs off with the tagline `Own a piece of Eternity,' that clearly reflects the premium positioning of the brand. The TVC was currently on air on Sony, Zee, Star Gold and Sun TV and has also been dubbed in Hindi and Tamil.

Q. What kind of events do you associate with?

Well, we have already started the new year with the Orra Art Raffle ‘Art of Living’ event (January 5) in association with ArtWorks Art Management Services, GiveIndia, Grey Worldwide and Grand Hyatt Hotels under the auspices of the Mumbai Festival. It is an attempt at raising money for 85 charities certified by the Government of India. We invited the elite and urged them to buy a raffle ticket worth Rs. 5,000 wherein they will donate for a noble cause whilst enjoying cocktails and an Indian classical concert. The raffle also entitled the invitees to a chance to win exclusive paintings worth Rs. 100,000-Rs. 400,000 created by renowned artistes such as Paresh Maity, Satish Gupta and Kahini Arte Merchant. The contributions would be exempt from tax.

In November 2004, we already presented pendants from the Mughal collection for an auction. The collection revived the Mughal era by creating jewellery befitting Mughal royalty. The pieces included Aara and Gul, which were diamond-studded pendants with precious stones.

Q. How do you plan to counter the intense competition from the recently launched diamond jewellery brands and existing market leaders?

We had been making serious moves to target the diamond jewellery market since the last three years. We were much ahead of the pack even as the flurry of new diamond brand launches started one or two years back. Our long-term strategy and foresight at that point of time is paying us rich dividends today. The emphasis now is on brand building and sustenance.

I believe that the Diamond Trading Co. (DTC) has played a stellar role in expanding the market through its various brands such as Nakshatra, Asmi, Arisia and Sangini among others. These brands are in various stages of evolution.

Q. What is so different about Orra’s Goa factory outlet?

It is a unique concept that blends jewellery with tourism. In our factory outlet in Goa, visitors can see the entire process of manufacturing in a transparent manner. It helps customers understand the entire process and appreciate the eternal value of diamond jewellery.

Q. What should the Government do to help jewellers?

Rationalise the varying sales tax structures across India. The varying sales tax rates leads to different MRPs and a lot of confusion amongst the various constituents of the jewellery trade. Also, the Government should study the success of the jewellery exporters in SEEPZ Mumbai and create similar models in different parts of the country. In the 1980s the turnover of SEEPZ was merely Rs. 10 million and it has zoomed to billions of dollars today.

Q. What are the trends for 2005?

I see a lot of diamonds with precious stones. I am confident that India’s jewellery designers will imbibe the best of modernism with traditionalism to create designs that will attract customers in different parts of the world.

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