The MD of Swarovski’s consumer goods business in south-east Asia, Aymeric Lacroix, tells us about the company’s expansion plans in India and the importance of adopting a ‘digital first’ approach. In an email interview with Isha Arora, he speaks about what sets Swarovski apart from other traditional and artificial jewellery makers in India. Edited excerpts:
What are your expansion plans and brand vision for India?
Swarovski was started in 1895 with only one inspiration by Daniel Swarovski: a diamond for every woman. In the new-age context, this motto is still prevalent for all markets that Swarovski operates in, including India. But on a strategic level, we have a vision to be absolutely consumer-centric through four pillars: products, countries, channel and digital.
The jewellery market in India is rather advanced and moving upwards. The rapidly growing €135-million fashion jewellery market in India will double in the next four years owing to widespread distribution and the e-commerce wave. A sharp rise in the jewellery market in India is expected because of factors like social media awareness, expansion of the middle class, increase in smartphone users and internet penetration, and growing popularity of omni-channels among players.
Swarovski has enjoyed phenomenal recognition and strong consumer acceptance in the jewellery segment since our arrival in India in 2003. Given the promising market projections and the many factors affecting the growth of the Indian jewellery market, we plan to take advantage of all those aspects.
Swarovski aims to dominate the branded fashion jewellery market in India with a stronghold on distribution and consistent growth with new stores at prime locations. We also plan to go for a ‘digital first’ marketing strategy to take advantage of the smartphone wave in the country and, eventually, we also intend to increase our e-commerce footprint paired with strengthening the existing channels of Myntra and Jabong.
What strategy are you going to undertake to expand your footprint in the Indian market?
Expanding our footprint in 2019 is mainly twofold. First will be new store openings by reaching out to untapped regions and securing premium locations, and second is refurbishment, which will be of existing top doors for longevity and continuity of these stores, as well as a great customer experience. New store openings also include expansion of our e-commerce footprint and strengthening existing channels.
Gold is considered the benchmark of royalty and purity in jewellery when it comes to India. How do you counter that perception?
Whether it comes to material or make, the Indian customer is very well informed in terms of jewellery. We understand the importance of gold jewellery and its cultural connotation in India and, therefore, do not seek to diminish these values.
We respect the culture and, hence, we only tap into occasions that make sense for a jewellery buyer. For example, Swarovski is ideal as a wedding gift or for bridesmaids to wear or as part of the trousseau, but not as bridalwear on the occasion itself. Similarly, Raksha Bandhan, even though a traditional occasion, is something that we can tap into, as Swarovski jewellery makes for a perfect gift.
In which segment do you see greater potential for growth: jewellery or watches?
For Swarovski in India, jewellery is definitely the driver with a 76% contribution to sales. Having said that, watches provide a double-digital contribution to sales as well at 10%. We peg the category to further grow in the coming years and contribute to about 20% of the sales owing to new offerings and depth in colourways every season. Watches are part of all our campaigns in every season and priced at a highly efficient price point, starting at Rs 16,900. All our watches are Swiss-made, which makes it an even more attractive proposition for our customers.
Swarovski crystals, although refined, can be associated with artificial jewels. How are you looking at making the brand more acceptable and accountable in terms of ‘value for money’?
We are witnessing a movement of customers from conventional artificial or traditional jewellery to adopting fashion jewellery owing to trend consumption and celebrity dressing on social media.
In that vein, Swarovski is one of its kind and is undisputed in the branded crystal jewellery segment. As for the price proposition, the Indian customer is very price-conscious owing to a large jewellery offering available in the market. Hence, Swarovski’s versatile offering performs well in India, as it provides multi-usage at one price—earrings that can be worn three ways or the Swarovski remix range that can be used as a double bracelet or choker.