Feb 10, 2017

Design Inspirations 2017: Focussing on the Millennials - Day 1

The Gem & Jewellery Export  Promotion Council’s seminar, Design Inspirations, an annual event held close to the Signature IIJS show, this year focussed on the Millennials.

Welcoming the participants , Praveenshankar Pandya, Chairman GJEPC , spoke of the need to enrich the jewellery industry of the country by honing design capabilities. He said that the GJEPC planned to set up jewellery training facilities across the country, which would also lend an impetus to the Skill India campaign of the government.  

Pandya extended a special welcome to Shri Rajkamal, Director, Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MoC&I), Government of India (GoI), who he said had been extremely supportive in the creation of  Common Facility Centres (CFCs), the first of which is to be opened in Vishnagar shortly.

Colin  Shah, Member of GJEPC’s Promotion, Marketing and Business Development (PMBD) Sub-Committee   said that the Design Inspirations seminar was always structured around a relevant theme, and went on to outline  the day’s programme.  He  highlighted  the particular significance  of the Millennial generation as consumers.

The first half of the day saw Shimul Mehta Vyas, Activity Chairperson, Outreach Programmes,   National Institute of Design (NID) deliver the keynote address. 

This was followed by presentations by internationally renowned jewellery designer Reena Ahuwalia; CEO of the brand The Rose, Biren Vaidya; the young founder of  jewellery start-up, Shuchi Pandya; and well-known architect Ajit Shilpi.

A panel discussion was held on the topic of “Designing for the Domestic Market” with the  participation of  Shailesh Sangani, Convenor of GJEPC’s PMBD Sub-Committee; Farah Khan Ali, famous jewellery designer; Milan Chokshi CEO of popular brand Moksh and moderated by Soma Bhatta, Editor  of Retail Jeweller. 

The day was wrapped with the first part of the anchor presentation  by well-known trend forecaster Paola de Luca of The  Futurist Ltd.

The  presentations of most of the speakers, including Shilpi’s, focussed on understanding the Millennials and, through this insight, defining the best ways to reach them, woo them. All presentations used the individual experiences and practices of the  speakers, making them particularly interesting and dynamic.

The Millennial generation includes those born between 1981-2000 roughly  (roughly because different people have different cut-off dates for the generation), as one speaker pinpointed.   

They are characterised by a far more casual and an “unstructured”  approach than previous generations in relation to both what they wear (jewellery and fashion) and how they  define their spaces (work and home). There is  more a focus on the experiential than the material. Hence while quality is important, neither established brands, the value of the product or the material it is made of (particularly pertinent to jewellery – they can do without precious) is as important.

They are the “me” generation par excellence, and hence personalising and “bespoke” (in its wider meaning) works very much for them. They are rooted in reality and hence the real person, the real model is more likely to influence buying decisions, as is peer recommendation through social networking, than celebrity advertising. 

Also, Millennials are very concerned about the world they live in and hence aspects like environment, women power, social equality are of great importance to them. Also, they do not like to be tied down and they demand flexibility.

And, most importantly, they are totally connected to, and influenced by the digital world. Hence, they have more information at their fingertips, can check out a variety of products to decide what exactly they want, and assess relative merits and demerits, as well as comparative pricing. The digital platforms, therefore, are also the best way to capture the attention of, and reach  messages to, the Millennials.

In  the panel discussion, Farah   stressed the importance of story-telling and creating jewellery on the basis of an inspiration and concepts, which she said was the only way for a brand to have a USP and to be successful. Sangani pointed out that retailers did not really take the story-telling path when they were making decisions to buy from manufacturer-wholesalers. Rather, they picked pieces at random from a large number of pieces which are presented to them. Chokshi pointed out that there were different methods followed in different market segments.  The generic market segment was still based mainly in random selection whereas when buying  high-end and branded jewellery they might demand more concept-based jewellery. He said that the domestic market is changing though there is yet a long way to go.

Paola de Luca stressed that we should not only be focussing on designing for the Millennials, but on designing for the Millennium. She pointed out that the Millennial generation was yet to reach its peak spending power. On the other hand, a good segment of Gen X (the preceding generation) still had a strong share of the market. She also pointed out that it was important to put forward an entire package when selling luxury products like jewellery. Story telling therefore comprised a larger idea – than merely a concept -- which included packaging, delivery, marketing, servicing etc.

Pic Cap:  Praveenshankar Pandya, Chairman, GJEPC, (right)  felicitating  Shri Raj Kamal (Director, Dept. of Commerce, Govt. of India) at Design Inspirations 2017