The customer has changed and so has the experience – Ruchita Sharma, Head Marketing, Swarovski India
Move over diamonds and give way to the Swarovski crystal – fun, hip and more stylish than ever. With Swarovski having changed its game plan for India, Ruchita Sharma, India - Head Marketing Operations, in conversation with EE tells us about the lessons learnt and what the whole Swarovski experience is all about.
There was a time when Maharajas used to approach Swarovski with specific designs and Swarovski only catered to the niche, elite clientele. With India being in its top players, Swarovski plans to launch more made-for-India products, open more stores and sort out supply chain and distribution-related issues to maintain healthy double-digit growth rate in the country. “When Swarovski entered India about 11 years ago, the whole brand positioning was neither here nor there. We’ve come a long way ever since with our brand having moved over the ‘only elite’ tag and entered the everyday lives of every consumer,” says Ruchita Sharma.
The company in the past few years has moved out of its previous focus of being located in five-star hotels and has focused on premium locations at mall properties resulting from its initiative to move into a more premium category and become acceptable to a wider range of customers. The Indian market for Swarovski has been on a gradual but consistent growth upswing since its entry into the market primarily for the Consumer Goods Business division and picked up pace in the last 5 years.
Swarovski currently sells its jewellery, pens and accessories through 34 franchise stores operated by various partners across the country. The company plans to have a mix of company-owned stores and partner stores in the future. Speaking to Ruchita about the Swarovski experience and how the regular Indian consumer was convinced to incorporate the Swarovski crystal into his/her everyday life, EE found out that the entire game play was about brand positioning. Swarovski moved closer and became more accessible to the regular Indian consumer and became more relatable in terms of style, design and accessories. With Swarovski making products specifically for the Indian consumer, the positioning of the brand changed and the Indian consumer immediately accepted it. Swarovski became more active on the fashion scene and made sure that they were seen and heard at most fashion events.
From hosting fancy cocktails and dinners and celebrating bloggers all around the worlds, bringing them closer and forming communities, Swarovski has changed the operating model of their business after coming under severe pressure globally around 2007. “The Swarovski experience starts at the retail store. We have pushed styling and made our designs more wearable and to suit the consumer’s changing tastes and needs. It is no more a jewellery piece that you buy for a special occasion only. Swarovski has entered the everyday life of the consumer. Our boutique managers play the key role of being brand ambassadors. The experience at a Swarovski store is not like a usual gold and silver store. It is unique and stylish. The consumer has changed and so has the experience,” says Ruchita.
“In the past we have had many installations at malls with Saket having a number of pop up stores along with our flagship stores. Earlier we thought we were only bling, but we changed that and made consumers look at Swarovski in a different light. The brand has graduated from being just another expensive jewellery store to an uber, chic and more affordable line. It is no more an accessory you buy for an occasion but actually the whole year,” says Ruchita. Luxury marketers can learn from Swarovski, which leverages social media platforms as a place for socialization, building brand loyalty and as a successful outlet to drive repeat sales from loyal customers. Swarovski over the past couple of years has managed to get up close and personal with its consumers giving them experiences that changed the brand’s positioning in the market for the better. From partnering with designers and holding competitions such as the Sparkle of Istanbul, collaborating with design schools – Swarovski means serious business and the message they’re trying to get out there is that crystal can add sparkle to your everyday life.
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