A word with... De Beers Forevermark
05 Oct 2012|Added Value
India is set to become one of the world’s top three consumer markets for diamonds. We asked Neil Martin, Head of Brand Planning at Forevermark (part of the De Beers groups of companies) to describe the challenges facing De Beers and how working with Added Value has helped prepare the business to capitalise on the market potential.
What were the key issues facing not just the brand, but the business as a whole?
De Beers has a great heritage in India, but their link with Forevermark as a new brand with a very different proposition, made the Indian trade sceptical about the launch.
In addition, during 3-4 years De Beers had not been active in the Indian market, there had been significant changes with increased prosperity, emerging wealth ‘pockets’ of the population creating the ability and desire to buy luxury goods. Despite India being an established market for jewellery and diamonds, brands (like Forevermark) had not played a role in offering a choice.
All of this, along with a new team here, meant we needed to really understand the market from all perspectives – new emerging middle class consumers, trends in jewellery and retail, the role for brands and so on – these would all be critical to ensuring we could launch and develop our brand successfully in a key market.
What was it about our approach that made you choose it over others?
The Added Value approach would give us an opportunity to do a full immersion into a new market that we didn’t really understand and we felt out of touch with. Groups on their own can of course be useful, but we needed to get the full picture, provide important context which would allow us to develop a coherent marketing plan against the audiences we wanted to reach. India is a busy, vibrant, dynamic, chaotic country bursting with useful insights that we would have missed from the other side of the viewing facility mirror. We had full support here and many team members attended, both from the central team in London as well as locally in India.
Nervous, excited and keen to learn. It was an ambitious approach to take, but I sold it with conviction to the business team who were supportive and keen to be involved. Having a semiotician on the study was amazing, Jerry (Jerry Clode, Cultural Insight Associate Director Added Value UK) really opened our eyes to the market in a way that we may not have expected to put cultural context on all the insights we saw.
How do you think the experience has helped you to tackle your challenges in a way that feels different to a more conventional approach?
We now have a fuller, rounded view of the market than we have ever had before and we refer back to Added Value’s findings all of the time. For example, the experience of going into peoples’ homes stays vivid and clear in our minds. We’ve developed solid marketing plans for the market and we’re seeing growth as a brand. The research is also being used to sell our brand into the (somewhat cynical) trade – we use Added Value’s pen portraits of our consumers to bring the brand to life in a way that I believe, would have been tricky with just groups.
The findings have also told us that we have the right to be excited about what our brand could do in India. For instance solitaire diamonds are very much of the moment and we need to harness this opportunity.
In terms of impact on the business, we’re seeing growth in a chaotic market. We now know what our consumer looks like, what they read, where they go and we have to ensure we keep referring back to this in our development. And we need to approach how we position our brands with an Indian perspective, especially in terms of design.
It’s great that the learning’s have made such an impact. Would you consider using this immersion approach again and recommending it to other clients looking to open up a new market?
Yes, I think we would, especially in a market we feel we don’t know well like Japan. And yes, I’d happily recommend it to other clients as an effective, comprehensive approach.
Neil Martin, Head of Brand Planning, Forevermark, part of De Beers.
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