India’s gold retailers jump on the ‘brandwagon’

NEW DELHI, December 14, 2009 (AFP) – Indians, the world’s biggest buyers of gold, are increasingly opting for branded jewellery, attracting franchisers and foreign groups like Cartier at the expense of traditional retailers. Traditionally, most Indians would go to their small family jewellers, normally located in a congested wholesale market, sit down on cotton mattresses with the jeweller and pick out some items.

The process worked on trust built up in some cases over generations between buyer and jeweller, who would mostly offer products from artisanal designers and producers from his area.

Nowadays, young Indians are opting for brightly lit showrooms with marble floors, glass display cases and professional salespeople — preferably at a company whose brand name implies social status and wealth.

“There is a tectonic shift in the business now. If you want your gold jewellery business to survive — brand it and advertise,” said Sandeep Kulhali, vice president of Tanisq, one of India’s oldest branded retail jewellery chains, owned by the Tata conglomerate.

Tanisq opened their first outlet in 1994 and now have 117 showrooms across the country.

“Earlier it was difficult to convince consumers to buy bran