Light jewellery is climbing high on the popularity charts these days. What is a norm today, was an exception then! Ten years ago, Tanishq felt the need to tap a hitherto ignored segment of consumers – working women, who didn’t have much choice in pret wear jewellery lines. Thus, Mia by Tanishq, was born – a lightweight jewellery brand. Today, Mia enjoys the first-mover advantage and has recently opened three new exclusive Mia boutiques in various cities, adding to a tally of 43.
Shyamala Ramanan, Business Head of Mia by Tanishq at Titan Co. Ltd., shares her views on the Mia’s trailblazer credentials and the future growth trajectory.
Mia by Tanishq has enjoyed the first-mover advantage as it was the first brand in the country that focused on jewellery for working women. Today, lightweight jewellery is the dominant trend across the country…. Has this stood you in good stead?
Yes, you are right, we were the first brand to take the step in that direction. I’ve been with this brand for about 18 months, and one of the first things I did was talk to people who made it happen.
I spoke to our Managing Director, CK Venkatraman, MD, who was then the CEO. His brief had been very clear – to develop a jewellery line for modern women who were getting into the workspace. Since then, we have kept that DNA intact, and we continue to make lightweight jewellery. Over the years, we have expanded our design language and are widely accepted as a brand for young women who are independent and self-expressive. The population of working women is growing by the day, and they are willing to experiment with light designer jewellery – and definitely, Mia stands in good stead.
In fact, this is where a lot of brands are now making inroads. So, that only reinforces the fact that this is the future … that lighter jewels is the trend. And then of course, consumers look up to us because we are a cut above as we have the Titan/Tanishq lineage to bank on.
You mentioned that Mia’s design language has gone through a transition. Tell us more about it.
As a 10-year-old brand, we have experimented with different genres. We started off as a work wear line for working women, then expanded to create different products for different occasions for the working women. We have, over the years, widened our range to accommodate more designs from minimal to glamorous; from geometric to more organic and fluid forms like the Kiss of Spring and Sway With Me collections. We’ve expanded our design language keeping in mind what consumers are seeking, and of course, basis the latest global trends.
How do you keep tabs on what consumers desire?
Since I have come in, we have interacted with close to 1,000 customers. We spend quality time listening to them and understand what they want. That’s how we have been evolving our design language. We have one-on-one chats, we meet them at the stores, we ‘hear’ them on social media or reach out to them separately. We spend about 20 minutes with each customer and they are happy to talk to us.
The Mia Sutra (mangalsutra) collection is the outcome of our engagement with our customers, who were looking for lightweight necklaces that had a modern slant. We immediately went to the drawing board and started conceptualising designer mangalsutras in 14- and 18-karat gold.
Who is the target audience of Mia?
Mia caters more to millennials and Gen Z. We believe Mia to be a recruiter brand for our consumers, who later graduate to Tanishq, our main brand.
In terms of percentage, what is the total sales contribution of Mia vis-à-vis Tanishq?
It’s difficult to give a number. Tanishq with wedding and heavy jewellery still constitutes the largest chunk of jewellery sales in India even today, and then there is every day wear classical jewellery.
Having said that, Mia is an emerging segment and there is a growing trend among women who view jewellery as a means of expressing themselves … and that’s where Mia fits in very beautifully. It is a brand which is coming of age, and we think it is a perfect time to start evolving and becoming a much bigger brand.
Are Mia’s designs region-specific?
No, Mia does not have region-specific designs because consumers haven’t asked for it yet. Right now, our customers are largely cosmopolitan. However, we find regional skews in terms of categories that they buy. For instance, some regions sell more of bangles, and some more of earrings. Accordingly, we merchandise our stores based on the propensity of what sells. Of course, we are amenable to change our design directions depending on consumer demand.
Does Mia have any signature collections, something akin to Van Cleef’s Alhambra or Cartier’s Tennis bracelet?
Yes, we do have a ‘core’ collection, but we haven’t given it a fancy name to it yet. There are certain collections from the past, which do amazingly well; during our customer interactions, we are told to bring those designs back. So yes, we do have some classics, which are eternal evergreen collections.
What is Mia’s sweet spot in terms of pricing?
Mia has expanded its price band considerably in the last 18 months. So, when I joined, we were largely between the Rs.5,000 and Rs.25,000 range. But now we have consciously increased our offering because we went from 14-karat to 18-karat as well, and we have lines from Rs.3,500 to Rs.90,000. Having said that, the sweet spot is still around Rs.20,000 to Rs.22,000. Online is a little lower, and that is expected because we recruit our customers on that platform.
How did the pandemic affect the sales of Mia?
While Covid hit us, it also gave us the opportunity to experiment with a lot of new things, and the brainstorming worked in our favour. We are quite happy with the learnings.
People were looking for our products online for celebrating milestones and occasions and we did engage them through video calls. But we never consciously pushed for sales at that time.
The second wave was much closer home. And good Samaritans in the community were helping others to cope with the adversity. That’s when we released a campaign that implied, “You don’t need gold to shine” The message was to be safe, and we encouraged people through our ads to ‘let your inner glow be the gold’. Buying could wait.
Tell us about your studded jewellery.
We use a lot of diamonds; we also use coloured gemstones, and a combination of synthetic and semi-precious gemstones. We are a studded jewellery player. And of course, diamonds continue to be the favourite.
Since you use synthetic gemstones, have you considered lab-grown as an option for diamonds?
Not yet. We have not taken any concrete steps so far.
Any expansion plans for Mia?
Yes, we are going to be expanding rapidly. We have opened three more Mia exclusive boutiques in the last one-and-a-half months in Indore, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad that adds up to 43 brick and mortar stores in all. We have changed the retail colour palette and opted for Sakura pink and cerulean blue – shades that talk about emerging positivity among consumers.