The 2000s were a period of fast growth for diamond jewellery retail in India, with an increasing proportion of jewellers selling diamonds. Approximately one third of jewellery retailers sold diamond jewellery in 2011, up from just a fifth in 1994. Jewellers have been attracted to the category by the potential for higher sales and margins. On average, those that stock diamonds in Tier 1-3 cities achieve sales eight times larger per outlet than those that do not, and diamond jewellery accounts for about a third of total sales at an average diamond jewellery stockist.
Today, growth in diamond jewellery doors has come back in line with overall jewellery doors growth, but the potential for future growth in volume acquisitions offers potential to new entrants just as much as it does for established diamond jewellery retailers.
A key trend in the Indian diamond jewellery retail scene is the increasing importance of large chains. In 2011, these comprised only two per cent of diamond jewellery outlets, but were responsible for 17 per cent of the sales. The increase in the significance of chains is part of the rise of modern formats in the broader Indian retail market, favoured by young, urban consumers. The increase in share of larger retail formats is expected to be accompanied by an increase in share of total retail sales made up by the ‘organised’ sector from eight per cent today to 24 per cent in 202323. Diamond jewellery retailers are therefore likely to face increased competition from more modern jewellery retail formats and the organised sector in the coming years.
The growth of e-commerce is a global phenomenon that has had limited impact on diamond jewellery sales in India up to now. Only one in every 100 diamond jewellery pieces is currently bought online in India. This is in stark contrast to the US, where in 2013 18 per cent of diamond jewellery acquisitions were made online.
Similarly, online currently has a relatively low reach in India as a pre-purchase research tool. In India, 12 per cent of women use the internet to pre-select designs or learn more about diamond jewellery. In more advanced markets, the proportion is higher, with over a fifth of Chinese women and around a third of American women using online as a research channel.
However, as internet penetration and sales of smartphones accelerate, online is likely to become more important in India, both as a sales channel and a research tool. The young generation is driving growth of online, and the incidence of online diamond jewellery purchasing among women aged 18-25 was three per cent in 2013, three times higher than the overall online diamond jewellery buying rate. Online is also used more frequently for diamond jewellery purchasing by the Elites (two per cent of all purchases). The combination of a youthful and affluent user base makes online a valuable tool for growing diamond sales at present and even more so in the future.
It is evident that the Indian consumer market presents a significant growth opportunity for diamonds. The sector is diverse, with three distinct and very different consumer segments that will require differentiated approaches by diamond retailers in order to realise the growth opportunity. The most successful retailers of the future will need to employ a variety of approaches, including effective consumer messaging and positioning of diamonds for different occasions to different audiences; strengthening of retail and diamond jewellery brands; compelling marketing; and developing modern retail formats with an online presence.
23 Fashion and Beauty Sector India – Market Entry Opportunities for UK Companies’, UK India Business Council, 2014