Gili Jewelers was established as a distinct brand by Gitanjali Jewels Limited, one of India’s largest exporters of fine diamonds soon after the abolition of the Gold Control Act by Indian government in 1991. For the parent company Gili was logical extension of their business. Research was commissioned by the parent company, and ORG – MARG conducted a for city survey to find out:
1) What jewelry meant to the Indian buyer?
2) What do they understand by carotage?
3) What do they understand of diamonds?
4) What do they think of branded jewelry?
It was found that the country was not ready or this idea and that branded jewelry would not work. However, there was a huge price point gap, which existed between imitation jewelry and 24 carat jewelry. A niche was found and the company decided to go ahead and launch branded gold jewelry in the price range of Rs 500 to Rs 10,000.
In 1994, the company had the product ready but did not have a channel of distribution. Traditional jewelers were approached as that would be the logical place to sell gold jewelry. Every one who saw the product liked it, they were even willing to pick up one or two pieces as a gift but no one was willing to stock the products in their store the products in their store under the brand name Gili. A few months elapsed.
Shoppers’ Stop Andheri was at that time looking to expanding its product offering. The marketing team approached Shoppers’ Stop, to probe the possibility of selling Gili in the store. After initial hesitation Shopers’ Stop agreed, but Gili had to pay a minimum guarantee for occupying the space in the store. The store needed returns on the space as they believed that the concept of branded gold jewelry would not work. This was the starting point of the shop-in-shop concept for Gili.
The Gili team spent a lot of time and effort in creating a unique display. A lot of curiosity was generated but there were no takers for the brand. This continued through the first two months of being there. In the third month, with a little advertising and Diwali the brand gradually started selling. The minimum guarantee was taken care of and the product began selling. The designs were appreciated and the variety and the styling were liked This was also the time when department stores were beginning to come up in India, and the makers of Gili realized at this point of time that they were at the place to be!
Building the brand
After the success at Shopper’s Stop, Andheri, Gili decided to adopt the shop–in-shop mode for growth and stores like Akbarally’s, Amarsons, Premsons and Ebony were approached and the chain started. At the backend, the organization was also being put in place to take care of servicing and increasing of outlets.
The first Gili advertisement
At this time the World Gold Council had become active and Gili along with WGC, decided to work together to promise to promote gold buying. The outcome of this was the creation of Gili’s first mail order catalogue. Gili approached Citibank for its card member database. In the year 1996 Citibank’s total database was 1,30,000 card members. The total database was tapped. A catalogue was sent to the entire database. The response was a phenomenal over 2%.
With the success of this initial promotion the company decided to look at other promotion. However, it generated a minimum response as the local jewelers offered various schemes, giving free gifts and a reduction on the making charges. Various occasions for gifting like Mother’s day, and Raksha Bandhan was tested but they drew blank.