None of us had expected the lockdown to last for over 100 days; the fight against Covid-19 has only united us and in a way has prepped us all to adapt to the many ‘new normals’ that it brought with itself. The nation-wide lockdown is slowly being lifted across orange and green zones and life is crawling back to a new-normalcy.
Businesses and brands are now are making their way back into the business; planning their communication plans for a new world post the covid-19 lockdown, keeping a note of some of the new buzz words such as ‘social distancing’, ‘work from home’ and the latest one; ‘atmanirbhar’.
In this story of Medianews4u’s new brand series, Back to Business, we spoke to Ramesh Kalyanaraman, Executive Director – Kalyan Jewellers on how they are getting back to business.
How are you coping with the impact of Covid-19 on Kalyan Jewellers? How effectively have you used the lockdown period?
We have utilized the lockdown period to carefully study the transition that the gems and jewelry industry is set to go through in the post-COVID-19 era. With this analysis, we have prepared ourselves by revamping our existing business strategies to address the challenges to be faced in the post-COVID-19 era.
Various online training sessions were conducted for our on-ground sales personals through the internal Apps. We also reworked on our priorities, our marketing strategies and spends. In the CSR front, we partnered with Mr Amitabh Bachchan in his “We Are One” initiative, that was aimed at helping daily wage earners.
The quest for a solution to a particular crisis helps invent new business opportunities and sometimes leads to a revision of existing business models. What sort of innovation has or will the Covid-19 pandemic bring to your brand/industry/category?
In line with the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya which coincided with the nationwide lockdown, we launched the Gold Ownership Certificate Initiative for the convenience of our customers.
While the brick-and-mortar showrooms remained shut on Akshaya Tritiya, we wanted to ensure that our customers can keep the tradition going by availing this newly launched facility to purchase gold online. The Gold Ownership Certificate initiative was a huge success with the company website witnessing a three-fold increase in traffic. Following this, we further announced an extension on availability of this facility even after Akshaya Tritiya until 31st October, 2020.
We have also prioritized our online platform and will be focusing a lot more on the same. Understanding that many weddings are reducing in size and probably moving into the houses, we have launched a Muhurat At Home wedding campaign. Personalised appointment-based booking facility is made available to wedding shoppers.
While some parts of the country have become COVID-19 free, cities like Mumbai and Delhi are still in a lockdown situation. How are you planning to resume business across cities that are not in the Red?
With relaxations under Lockdown 4.0, our showrooms have re-opened in green zones across the country.We are closely in tune with the directives of the local authorities to ensure that we abide by the rules and contribute towards limiting the spread of the virus.
At Kalyan Jewellers, the safety of our employees, customers and the community at large is of utmost importance to us. To ensure this, we are following the highest level of safety and precautionary measures across operational showrooms. These measures include mandatory use of hand sanitizers at both entry and exit points, providing masks and gloves to all staff members as well as customers, temperature check via hand-held scanners at entry points and regular deep cleaning and sanitization across showrooms at multiple times through the day.
Our showrooms are standalone showrooms, which are either mid-size, large format or flagship showrooms, designed to allow customers to have a more exclusive and personalized shopping experience. Since social distancing has now become an intrinsic part of this new world order, this will further add to our advantage and help us in meeting all social distancing norms, thereby providing consumers with more safety.
What will be your communication strategy post the opening of the lockdown? Understandably bringing customers back to you would be difficult. What will be the objective of the communication/marketing strategy?
Wedding related revenue contribute approximately 60% and suddenly there has been a change in the traditional way of doing marriages from marriage halls, Mandaps, large gathering etc to small, at home and intimate weddings. As a brand we want to showcase this sudden change. Also gold has been always a product which is seen as a safe investment which has been proved right even in this tough time globally. We would like to do some communication around this as well.We are planning to launch video ads relating to these two topics shortly.
We are also doing lot of SMS and email campaigns targeting our own customer base continuously.
How did you keep the morale of the employees during this lockdown period?
Following the Government’s announcement of going under lockdown, we decided to utilize this time by keeping our employees engaged in training programs and giving them an opportunity to improve their skillset.
Earlier, these training programs were done in batches by experts in individual cities. However, this phase has enabled us to take this training online and have a much larger number of employees to be part of the training. With this, we aim to continue providing our customers with a unique and personalized shopping experience.
At Kalyan Jewellers, we understand the contribution of our employees in the success of the company and believe in investing more towards their welfare. As part of the Kalyan family, our employees are the face of the brand and their health and well-being is of utmost importance to us. Thereby, we ensured that employees are engaged in productive skillset practices which were implemented in a systematic manner.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies that you will use to bring the business back on track or at least get it in the right direction and also create demand for yourself?
Considering that the lockdown has coincided with the peak purchase/wedding season, we are expecting the market to recover soon as people are looking towards gold as a favourable investment option. Additionally, to attract consumers jewellery retailers across the country we will constantly come with innovative offers
Also, with smaller DIY weddings becoming a new trend, consumers have more money at their discretion as expenses on lavish setups are no longer existent.We are looking at this as a favourable factor for jewellery retailers, as we expect consumers to divert this extra amount of money towards making investments in assets such as gold jewellery.
With the reopening of the market, we are witnessing a steady increase in footfalls, in all markets that have gone back to near normalcy.