As the lockdown began to ease towards the end of May, Zoya, the luxury jewellery arm of Titan, announced its entry into Southern India with the opening of its new flagship boutique on Vittal Mallya Road in Bengaluru.
While others were still adapting and analysing the way forward, Zoya jumped the gun and got back to business as usual with a new protocol #SafetyinEighty steps in place. LuxeBook talks to Ajoy Chawla, CEO, Jewellery Division, Titan Companies Limited about launching a new store in the midst of a pandemic and what Zoya’s future looks like.
Did you, at any point, consider postponing the new store opening?
Zoya is a luxury brand with select boutiques across India, that in many ways, is redefining the way fine jewellery is sold in India. Over the last 10 years, our focus has been to establish Zoya’s retail business model, which we have now done. We have two boutiques in Mumbai and one in Delhi and have been wanting to expand into South India for a while now, and Bangalore and Hyderabad have been on top of our list.
As a luxury brand, we have a stringent list of parameters for each boutique, led by location. We found a beautiful location for our boutique in Bangalore, right in the heart of the city, on Vittal Mallya Road, which is also a well-known hub for luxury. It was ready to be opened in March, but no one could have anticipated COVID-19, so there was no question of postponing it further.
Bangalore is slowly returning to normal, and since appointment-based boutique visits and home visits have always been a way of life at Zoya. Our customers also often pick Zoya for celebrations of personal milestones, which is relevant even today.
Tell us a little more about the safety protocols Zoya has put in place for customers and the staff.
Although we were ready in March, the boutique opened officially only last week. Since inception, the focus on hygiene in our boutiques has always been the best in the industry. With the peace of mind of our customers being of paramount importance, we have designed a meticulous protocol of #SafetyinEighty steps that is being implemented at all Zoya boutiques as we re-open and welcome customers.
This detailed protocol includes 80 safety checkpoints, stringent application of social distancing norms and minimum staff in stores to ensure that everyone who walks into the boutique can do so with comfort and ease. Our spacious layouts with beautifully designed private viewing areas can easily accommodate social distancing guidelines and allow for viewing jewellery at ease.
Will the pandemic impact sales?
The pandemic has certainly had a universal impact, but Zoya is a very niche brand with a very exclusive clientele and we believe that the impact on our target audience is minimal. For instance, perhaps their investments have dipped a little but they are probably not facing great liquidity distress. These are people with generally a higher standard of living, who value celebrations of personal milestones in their lives with family or loved ones.
Occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries or accomplishments such as learning a new skill or getting back to an area of personal interest after a long time, these celebrations matter to them. They may now have fewer avenues for these celebrations. For instance, overseas travel may not be possible. But they would still like to celebrate these occasions and what can be a better choice than something as eternal, beautifully crafted and artistic as a piece of jewellery from Zoya? In my opinion, this should continue, if not increase, as Zoya is targeting a very niche clientele.
Will more sales happen over video calls and photos shared on Whatsapp?
Jewellery is a high involvement purchase and we assume that customers might like to visit and see the products personally. At Zoya, there has always been a big focus on personalised service, and our sales executives are like relationship managers who take great efforts to know their customers and their preferences. They have always been available on WhatsApp and on phone for them, so, if customers prefer this route of communication for a part of the sales process, it will not be a challenge for Zoya.
For instance, we probably have one of the fastest response times in the industry for queries through digital mediums, and these queries are not answered by someone in a call centre, but by a salesperson from the boutique who will ultimately serve you. While we are trying to provide an undiluted and engaging experience to a customer sitting at home, adding a personalised touch to a traditionally virtual experience goes a long way in customer relationship management.
Are there any special promotions planned to attract your consumers’ attention?
Digitization has become the new normal and customers are getting used to it as a way of life. We will be leveraging digital platforms to drive engagement and bring our storytelling alive. We intend to curate impactful and relevant content across all our social media handles to engage our community of women. We are also working on creating new properties on our digital platforms for enhanced engagement and coming up with newer ways of crafting a personalised experience that will transition seamlessly from offline to online.
Do you plan to start selling jewellery online?
As a luxury brand, Zoya builds huge brand advocacy through digital mediums and it is very important. However, because of the nature of the product, we still foresee that the final purchase will happen either at the boutique or customer’s home via home shopping.
Will you launch new products to cater to the altered demand?
Zoya presents two-three collections a year, and each collection is meticulously designed and crafted, a labour of love that can take up to a year to create. We will be launching a new collection soon and with a theme, that’s very relevant in the current times, and we believe it will be something that will be of great interest to the market.
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Pink sapphires lead to chinar leaves embellished with diamonds in unique marquise and pear cuts. These earrings are the perfect contrast with the white diamonds paying homage to the retreating winter and the pink sapphires representing the joy of spring. #NewBeginnings #PositiveFacets #ZoyaJewels #TheDiamondBoutique #ZoyaATATAproduct #Zoya #AkshayaTritiya
What is your business strategy going forward? How has it changed since March 2020?
Zoya’s marketing strategy is threefold. Firstly, we build on our reputation of offering an exceptionally crafted product with an international design language. This focus is on aesthetic above all and is creating a whole new category.
Secondly, our strategy revolves around offering an unparalleled retail experience. From luxuriously appointed store interiors and refined customer service by trained staff, opulent in-store hospitality to private viewing areas that are designed to delight, every aspect is thoughtfully curated to elevate the customers’ experience and engagement with Zoya. The personalisation and exclusivity of Zoya’s service, are a key element of our core strategy.
Finally, we are looking at expanding the business by opening more doors in various cities in order to tap into this rising demand, which is seen in our new store opening on the prestigious Vittal Mallya Road in Bangalore. This fourth store marks our entry into the South and we look forward to announcing further expansions once the economy has stabilised after COVID-19.
How did you motivate your employees during the lockdown?
The culture of Tata and Titan companies has always been about helping the society, helping each other and staying connected. Throughout the lockdown, senior management made multiple efforts to stay connected with employees across levels and motivate and encourage them. We launched online learning platforms that allowed constant engagement with employees via training and workshops on upskilling and to adapt to a changing environment. The Human Resource Team kept alive the community feeling at Titan through initiatives such as Trivia Timeouts for the entire company on various topics, and aided teams with tips and training on how to effectively work from home. Technology has obviously made this easier and more effective to implement. Also, the Tata company has led the way in private industry contribution to India’s fight against COVID-19. Being part of the Tata Group is a matter of pride for each employee and very motivating in itself.