The World Gold Council’s ‘Retail Gold Insights: India Jewellery’ report highlighted that 37% of Indian women have never bought gold jewellery in the past but would consider buying it in the future, presenting a significant potential audience for retail jewellers to capture. 60% of Indian women already own gold jewellery; it is the second most popular item among ‘fashion and lifestyle’ shoppers – preceded only by designer clothes/silk sarees.
India’s cultural identity is greatly intertwined with gold: it is widely referenced in ancient scripts, features heavily in religious iconography and is integral to auspicious occasions, traditions, and wedding ceremonies. It is deeply valued, both for its cultural ties and inherent worth, as well as for being a provider of security and a symbol of prosperity, passed on for generations.
The main key findings from the report are as follows:
Indian women are major buyers of gold jewellery: Gold jewellery is the second most popular item they own when compared against a range of other fashion and lifestyle products. 60% of women own gold jewellery – second only to designer clothes/sarees. And 40% had bought gold jewellery in the preceding 12-month period, eclipsing purchases of diamond or platinum jewellery.
Nevertheless, the gold industry has an opportunity to reach a significant new audience: 37% of Indian women are potential buyers, representing a sizable new target audience for the gold jewellery industry. 44% of rural respondents fell into this category, compared with 30% of urban respondents.
Rural and urban consumers share positive attitudes towards gold but for different reasons: Urban women tend to focus on the sense of security that gold brings, highlighting its role as a display of wealth as well as a store of value. Rural Indian women place greater emphasis on gold’s widespread acceptability and its aspirational qualities, viewing it as a means of commanding respect.
Gold jewellery purchases are commonly driven by a need for financial value and ease: Indian women report that gold meets the criteria of their ideal product choice as it is durable, a good financial investment and/or family heirloom, socially acceptable and offers a straightforward retail experience.
But gold is not currently meeting the significant needs for self-expression and prestige: Gold is not resonating with the desire for self-expression and prestige when it comes to factors that motivate fashion and lifestyle buying.
Younger women need specific engagement: although many young women are active gold jewellery consumers (33% of Indian women aged 18-24 bought gold jewellery in the 12 months preceding the survey) their future purchase intent is low, particularly in the urban cohort. They are less emotionally connected to gold jewellery and this represents a potential future threat.
Somasundaram PR, Managing Director, India, World Gold Council, commented “India’s jewellery market is world-leading in the skills of its artisans, who craft the most elaborate and decorative pieces that adorn the nation’s women. But the industry needs to be alert to the changing times. This research shows us that consumer tastes are evolving, and there is a risk of gold jewellery losing its connection with younger audiences as other brands vie for the attention of the millennial generation. Gold jewellery faces challenges from perceptions that it is a traditional necessity and not versatile enough for the modern Indian women. But the findings are encouraging, as they highlight how the industry can adapt, adjust and improve to meet the different needs of different groups of Indian women. The report reveals the importance of establishing modern, relevant brands, that can resonate with consumers through compelling marketing campaigns. Enhancing the purchase experience for consumers, incorporating a greater role for technology, should also be a focus for the industry. We at the World Gold Council are excited at the opportunities these insights present for our market and look forward to engaging with the industry in more detail.”
The ‘Retail Gold Insights: India Jewellery’ report highlights some key issues for the industry to address, identifying barriers that have prevented women from buying gold jewellery:
Market saturation: The top barrier to buying gold – across all age groups – is a feeling of already having enough. Gold inherited from family or received as a gift seems to be a key factor, since this group have never bought it themselves. Changing this perception to unlock incremental demand among these consumers of the future should be a priority.
Lack of perceived fashionability: Another key barrier uncovered by our research was gold’s lack of perceived ‘fashionability’. A common claim was that gold was too flashy or old fashioned, or did not suit their style, or that they couldn’t find any gold jewellery they liked. Inherited or gifted gold jewellery may play a role here, too: often this jewellery will be of a more traditional in style, particularly if it has been presented for a wedding or other similar occasion.
Gold’s ties to certain occasions: Traditional Indian culture places gold at the centre of key moments – for example wedding ceremonies and religious festivals. As a result, gold jewellery is often thought of as maximal investment pieces that double up as heirlooms. These associations may be creating a singular connection between gold and tradition, that pushes women away from gold jewellery when they choose to shop for themselves.
Gold is viewed as difficult to buy: Multiple factors could trigger this perception. It could be that it is too difficult to buy the ‘right’ style of gold jewellery. Or it could be that the gold jewellery industry lags behind India’s digital evolution and needs to improve the purchase journey for gold jewellery buyers. It may also be due to underlying perceptions around affordability: some consumers may view gold as difficult to buy because they feel they can’t afford it.
The research reveals valuable insights into the behaviour and attitudes of Indian fashion and lifestyle buyers. It reveals what drives their decision to buy gold jewellery. Gold needs to diversify beyond its traditional stronghold and build fashion appeal. The industry must work to help gold remain relevant among a more modern, fashion-conscious audience.
Innovation offers a key route for the industry to connect with potential new buyers.
Innovation in design: Jewellers could look to create more subtle, modern and distinct designs that would encourage women to see gold in a different light and open up new demand moments. Exploring ways to make jewellery more functional may also reap rewards: in an era where people can use their watch to track their health, listen to music and read messages, consumers are accustomed to multi-functional accessories. Expanding product ranges to incorporate more white and rose gold pieces may also help. Giving women more opportunity to buy light jewellery that is functional for everyday wear, suitable for working women and caters to modern tastes could help to weaken the narrow view of gold as a traditional necessity.
Innovation in the buying experience: More women are engaging with digital platforms, so introducing new ways of bringing together gold and technology – both in-store and online – should expand its appeal. The industry can learn to adapt to meet shoppers’ needs; it can modernise the ranges of gold jewellery it offers and fuse that offering with technology.
The research also deep dives into insights around the profiles of jewellery buyers basis urban-rural divides, the sizeable gaps that exist, identification of demand moments, improvements and personalisation in purchase journeys, the potential of online channels, and other aspects crucial to lend a thrust to gold jewellery in India. There is a clear scope to work collectively as an industry to make gold jewellery more relevant, contemporary and relatable through modernisation and innovation, effecting a meaningful change.