Dealing with chaos, adapting to changes and keeping balance during high tide – all these helped Bluestone maintain a distinctive position in the Indian market.
Bluestone aims to be a simple solution for its audience – the modern, free-spirited Indian woman. With their modern designs and a seal of trust from authentic craftsmen, they have found unique ways to please their target audience. However, what has propelled them ahead is how they engage with their audience, not just through products, but also through engagement with the intention to know the consumer, rather than just being satisfied with the consumer’s reaction.
BlueStone’s CMO, Pushkar Jain gives his opinions on new digital ways and old traditional ways.
Define a usual day in your life.
Two things characterize a usual day for me. One, managing change and chaos real-time, which I think is characteristic of the online industry, and at the same time keeping an eye on how to build the brand and the company over long term. That’s the combination, which is supercritical for any startup, especially in this sector.
How are you empowering traditional goldsmiths and keeping their art alive?
We are a full-stack model where every single piece is manufactured and designed by us. For manufacturing and designing, we employ a lot of traditional artisans who belong to the jewellery background. We believe they add a lot of value to both our design sensibility as well as the quality that we deliver to our customers, because there is a certain finesse that comes in with people who have been part of this industry generation after generation. If you speak to these people, you will come to know why they would want to work with BlueStone. We give them the space to express their design, and working conditions are pretty much best in the industry.
How has the Indian shopper’s perception of buying jewellery online changed over the last few years?
The expectation of jewellery buyers has changed and online started fitting into that. If you look at jewellery shopper today, there is this large chunk of modern progressive women who don’t want to buy jewellery just for the locker or for those traditional occasions. What they want is sleek, chic, modern designs that they can wear every day. These are the pieces that we manufacture and sell online, and online does a far better job compared to the traditional industry. The online industry is growing rapidly and its advocacy is helping a lot to change and manage concerns that people used to have with buying jewellery online. I think the number of people who are placing their trust in our system is growing exponentially.
What marketing hacks helped you get your first 1000 customers?
The biggest thing would be how we created the right product, which fit at the right place. So, when we created BlueStone, we had to solve some fundamental problems for the consumer. Pricing had been a very big problem, prevalent across the offline industry, and we managed to solve that by giving clear pricing slips. Second big thing was giving the option to customize, which you don’t get in offline stores. You can choose your gold color, the size you want to buy, carat age of diamond as well as gold. Third was that we focused on ensuring, we don’t become an online version of a traditional store and be very unique in the kind of jewellery that we were offering.
All of these things together created that consumer value and that is where we started getting traction. So when we got consumers, we gave them the right experience, having a strong advocacy score that we tracked month by month. That is what I would say were the top things that came together to give us the initial consumers.
How do you manage traditional artisans and modern designs?
There is an art to manufacture something and then there is the finesse with which you do it. When we pick up our artist or employ a designer they come from the best of design schools in the country, you know and can ensure that whatever is conceptualized on the website level gets the right treatment. Every single look that you make, every single diamond that you are fixing is at the right level, gets the right kind of puffing and gets the right kind of delicacy. These traditional artisans have been doing business since a long time. Having been trained from a very young age, the kind of finesse with which they are able to handcraft pieces is on a very different level altogether. I think it’s their ability to merge what they know with what we design and give them the right level of hand crafting that makes it easy for us to manage.
Tell us about your top 3 marketing campaigns that helped scale up your sales.
So the most important one was the one we did last year, the campaign was ‘Aao Browse Kare’. We targeted the brand to the modern with subtle messaging; the campaign reflected a very comfortable relationship that a couple shares, where jewellery is a cry for romance, where jewellery is an expression of love. It was a campaign that did extremely well for us. We could see an exponential jump in traffic.
The idea behind it was the understanding that for women, it’s not just about picking up a jewellery that they like, it is also about the selection process that they enjoy. It is a process in which you want to browse through a lot, test different things, and then would fall in love with a particular piece. This campaign hit the right notes and had a very strong insight backing it up. It delivered very strong results on direct branding traffic level and so, did all the right things for us.
Then there was this other thing we recently did on social media. For the past two to three months, we have been very aggressive with our content marketing. We have created a page called ‘divas of substance’. Here our strategy is to engage with the community of modern and independent women, pick up their issues, inspire, guide, and engage with them on the page. And we don’t talk about the product, but focus primarily on engagement. Last month we had our peak traffic on that page, which was 4 million and if we add up the monthly traffic that would be around 10 million. This kind of technique is really working for us; it’s new-age marketing, and content marketing in its purest form. We have tried to shift ourselves from pushing advertising to the consumers to engaging with them in a way they would like to be engaged.
BlueStone has experimented in both – traditional television advertisements and online campaigns. Which medium worked best for you in terms of scaling up sales and brand awareness?
It’s a difficult one, because I don’t think it’s about the choice. We are engaging digital-first consumers and there is no doubt about it; digital is an extremely strong part of our overall communication strategy. But at the same time television helps you get the scale, it gives you reach, it builds stature for the brand, which is important for this particular industry. It’s a narrative that is intertwined; we see both these as two legs that we need to stand upon and both of these need to support each other.
How important is new-age marketing to scale up margins?
I would want to put light on a video we did on Mother’s Day, which did tremendously well for us. It had a really strong traction on Facebook. We got a lot of consumer engagement around it. With new-age marketing media, we engage consumers with stories in a far better way; it becomes the classic differentiator for the product proposition. But a lot of times what happens is that when we start using new-age media, purely from a performance point of view, we focus on the click per distribution of the media rather than engaging the consumer.
Who are your competitors in the Indian market, and how do you stay ahead in the game?
Our core competition comes in from organized branded retailers in the country, because they have consumers who have already made that shift from family jewellery to branded jewellery. They already understand the language of design. Brands like Tanishq and TBZ are the brands who would be really strong competitors. And to stay ahead, it’s more important for us to see what we are bringing to the table as a brand, the whole process of selection and also helping the consumer navigate better.
Our ability to churn out the very best design week after week, season after season in the right space of modern contemporary designs keeps us ahead. Since we are a full-stack model and we don’t need to keep inventory, the kind of design that we are able to experiment with is something that traditional retailers are not able to do. That gives us a fundamental advantage over them.