A Glitzy Synthesis of Jewellery, Sports, And Influencer Marketing: Sampurna Rakshit

Sampurna Rakshit, Marketing Head, Mia by Tanishq chats about the brand’s association with sports, its retail expansion plans, the digital push, its influencer marketing game, and more

Brands have been focusing on various tactics and platforms when it comes to brand building, brand recognition and recall techniques. One of the popularly utilised platforms have been sports and influencer marketing. Mia by Tanishq, as a brand, has been betting heavily on the sports and influencer marketing platforms when it comes to its strategy. In terms of its media mix, it has been riding high on digital.

BW Marketing World spoke to Sampurna Rakshit, Marketing Head, Mia by Tanishq on the brand’s association with sports, its retail expansion plans, the digital push, its influencer marketing game, and more.

Edited excerpts:

Mia partnered with the all women team of RCB as its principal sponsors in March 2023 and launched the campaign She got Game. And the brand is also promoting its products through ICC Men's World Cup with two sports presenters, Sanjana Ganesan and Mayanti Langer, as their styling partners. How and why do you view sports as an effective marketing platform?

For Mia, it's been a long standing association with sports. I think it stemmed out of the original idea of what Mia stands for. Mia has always stood for self-expression, unapologetically being yourself, celebrating who you are, instead of trying to be somebody else. So we've always encouraged people to do that.

And from there came in the thought that the portrayal of sports, women in sports, has always been on the more rugged, masculine side. It has always been about their fierceness, their grit, their aggression. While all that is definitely there, there is also another facet to them where they love to dress up. They are as feminine as you and me. They love their clothes, they love their jewellery.

And we believe it doesn't need to be either or, it doesn't need to be exclusive. They can dress up well, they can look stunning in Mia jewellery, and they can get India a lot of medals. The thought came from there.

And we've always also encouraged women in the workspace a lot and sport is just another workspace for them. A day on the field is like a day in the office for you and me. So all of this actually dovetailed into the first time we took up sports, which was in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

And we were the styling partner for many of the Indian women athletes. And they actually wore us to the Olympics in operation because they wanted to look their best. And we take a lot of pride in that association.

That was also the Olympics where one of our athletes, once we were working with Rani Rampal, went on to do wonders for the Indian women's hockey team. And it reached where we had never reached before. So not just as a brand stance, once we did that, we also realised that we were getting a lot of love from consumers, because it was also a space which no other Indian brand had taken up. You do have the regular sponsors and all, but a jewellery or fashion lifestyle brand in sports were unheard of and were very appreciative of the fact. And it really helped us stand out in their minds.

So emboldened by that, it was a natural choice when Women's Premier League happened this year, the maiden edition and the RCB team, we were just thinking about it. It just seemed like a very natural fit and we went for it. We are also very proud of that. Again, the girls that we worked with, like Smriti Mandhana or a Richa Ghosh during the shoot, also we realized they all love jewellery, they all had a natural affinity towards it. And to be one of the first brands in India to actively sponsor a team in the Women's Premier League was something that internally we had a lot of pride on, and internally worked well for us. And not just that, it delivered on the final impact also. The viewership, I think it crossed all the estimates that we had, or even the organisers had or even the RCB team had on how many people would actually watch Women's Premier League. It crossed all the expectations and it very high jump in awareness and consideration. So it made both business sense as well as brand being true to itself, it made sense for both of them. So we decided to continue the association, this time for the World Cup.

But we realised that every other brand was buying for the same World Cup slots, for same media inventory, and if we went the same way, it would maybe cost a lot, a lot of money would go in, but maybe not give us a differentiated impact that we were looking at. So we decided to take up an alternate route where we reached out to these two presenters, Sanjana and Mayanti, who have been in the sports field for a very long time. They are also women in sports in a different way, and very stylish women in their own stead. They look fabulous on screen, but that doesn't take away from what they talk about, the kind of analysis they do, the way they are so passionate about the sport, the way they know more about the sport than many other people. It doesn't take away from that. I think it adds to that. So we decided to team up with them and become their exclusive styling partner. So they actually wore Mia, and they are currently wearing Mia to all of their public appearances, including all the matches, as well as online commentaries.

That has also done an interesting thing for us, because one is definitely, it is increasing our concentration amongst women who are our primary TG. But interestingly, 50 per cent of Mia is actually gifted by men. It is a very easy gifting choice because of the price point.

What it has also done is helped us carve a space in the minds of men who are watching the World Cup. And who also follow these two women on social media for a lot of inputs and analysis and predictions. So it has helped us gain their mind space in a very different way.

Like, not just by blasting them with ads, but actually being involved they may want to watch and giving them content that they themselves would seek.

Also, for the Olympics we had Manika Batra. Also we had Deepika Kumari. Deepika was an archer. Manika played TT. So we are not closed to any sport. We are open to any ideas that can come up, any opportunities that can come up. What we genuinely look for is the right fit with the athlete and the sport and the team. If we feel the Mia fit, we'll go for anything.

Being associated with various influencers, TV stars and celebs - how is influencer marketing and celebrity marketing playing an essential role in the strategy for Mia? 

I think very few brands can survive without participating in genuine influencer marketing. All brands do it.

So again, the challenge remains for smaller brands like us is how do we stand out when every single brand is doing the same thing? What we ensured is one. It is crucial to our strategy to the extent that if you see our last year's Diwali film, we launched the 'This Is Me' campaign to celebrate women - the digital film featured renowned influencers to bring forth authentic voice and the free spirit of Mia women like Sakshi Sindhwani- a body positivity influencer, Asha Roka- an MMA champ, Queen Andro- LGBTQ fashion icon, Saru Mukherjee Sharma - a mom blogger, Riza Reji- the first indian model with down syndrome, Anuja Deora- an entrepreneur and Dee MC, rapper and singer- songwriter.

And this year also we've taken it a notch higher where we've taken Rakulpreet Singh, who we could fit with the brand itself because she's young, she's quite effervescent, she's very natural. There is a shift in celebrities being more approachable and being more real and showing the more real side of them.

As I said, we've gone one step higher and starred Rakulpreet for who she is in the recent ad campaign ‘For The Star In You’. Instead of showing her as a pretty model face, we have celebrated her for who she is. I think the key for us is that we always keep maintaining authenticity with the influencers. We tend to give influencers a high degree of freedom to create content in their way, instead of imposing a lot of brand guidelines and stifling their freedom. While we ensure that the final product or the final content is brand appropriate and all of that, we try to maintain a certain level of authenticity for their audience to resonate with. Otherwise every content will start looking like an ad.

It doesn't really work, even the run up to Diwali, Dhanteras. Also, we have a line of influencers that we are working with. Some of them, like Saru, has been with us for more than a year.

Rohit Saraf is a spokesperson for Men's Gifting Mia for a very long time. That has worked well for us. Again, we star Rohit as himself.

In fact, we ask them what they want to say and we work around that. We do interesting work with finance influencers that a lot of people follow. So these are finance influencers who give out a lot of finance tips.

We have used them in a very authentic way, again, where they have spoken about the continuing investment angle of gold and diamonds, what to look for when you're buying diamonds, why gold is still a good hedge in your portfolio, why gold balances equity, stuff that is all as per the ASCI guidelines, stuff that is real and factual. The idea is to bring back in Gen Z's mind that gold is still a good investment, it is not going anywhere. And while you're at it, why not buy something which is very stylish, like Mia, which will keep on appreciating in price, but will make you look fabulous every day. That is something unique we are doing.

Again, with Mayanti and Sanjana - we are looking at it like an influencer deal. Again, a very differentiated influencer deal. We try and keep a certain amount of originality into it and a lot of freedom and authenticity for the creators.

What kind of an outlook did the brand have for the festive season this year and for the upcoming six months? What about undertaking retail expansion?

So I think the overall consumer sentiment is very positive. In fact, on Karva Chauth, we had 40 per cent growth versus last year. And it looks very promising for Diwali and Dhanteras.

We are very positive. What has also happened is a robust growth in our store footprint has happened. We have grown – in two and a half years time, we have grown from having 30 standalone stores to 150 plus exclusive Mia stores today. We might be closing the year at a much higher number. We'll have to wait out and see how Diwali performs and then take that call. We're also available at 400 Tanishq stores and our online reach is also growing. So with this footprint and any positive consumer sentiment, we are very confident of very high double digit growth coming for Diwali, Dhanteras. And we've also seen that starting to happen in terms of consumer enquiries, footfalls to website that has already started growing.

Our website is growing very strongly. We just launched the Mia app so a lot of expansion is coming from there also. We are also working very hard on our marketplace presence like Amazon, Flipkart, TataCliq, Tata Neu, etc.

Interestingly, last month we opened our first ever international store in Dubai, which in the first month is doing fabulously well because I think there are a lot of Indians there as well who are also doing their Diwali, Dhanteras shopping. Plus, surprisingly what we didn't anticipate is that we are getting a lot of local footfalls - a lot of Emiratis are actually coming here. They are liking the design because our designs are fairly international. They work anywhere. We're also looking at more international expansion in the next year, basis on how Dubai has performed.

So both in India, abroad and online, we are looking at very massive expansion. Dubai was the pilot and Dubai has done fabulously well.

Where are your media spends majorly skewed towards - digital or traditional media like TV, print?  Even OOH, is picking up. What kind of a division, in terms of media spends, do you have?

We are a digital first brand. Our sales are mostly offline, are mainly on digital, which includes influencer, which includes ads, which includes videos, static, any association, any impact which is a very unique mix for a brand. Because generally offline brands spend offline and online brands spend online. D2C brands spend everything online.

For us the mix is inverted. So you can consider that around 60 per cent to 70 per cent of our spends are on digital. We do OOH and print in small pockets, but we've seen generally digital works very well for our TG and allows us to experiment and be very agile.

We are moving towards an equal to one kind of segmentation, where the ad that you see and the ad that I see in real time would be different. So somebody sees a gifting ad, somebody sees a mangalsutra ad, somebody sees a regular ad.

Digital allows that agility, which is critical, especially during the festive time when you have so many festivals, so many segmentations, and so many things to cater to, you have so many things to talk about. Also, digital, I feel, is far more cost effective right now. And especially our TG, who are the Gen Z or the younger millennials, spend a lot of time online, and they do a lot of their research online.

So we have to be there when they're searching for us. We have to be there when they're looking for style inspiration. So I don't see digital going anywhere anytime soon.

Having said that, yes, OOH and print always give us immediate impact whenever we do them, because, again, they are also not going anywhere. I think a few years back, people were predicting that these mediums would be extinct, but that is absolutely incorrect.

These mediums very good for impact, but for presence, for reach and frequency, I will always have to resort back to a higher spend on digital. Specific festivals, like just before specific spikes, if we invest in them, they really give us that one spike.

Which are the significant markets for Mia by Tanishq currently? And lot of brands are also expanding to tier II and tier III cities - how do you see that as a trend for Mia by Tanishq? 

While most of our revenue still comes from Bombay, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, and the metros because of the sheer size of the market, our highest growing regions are the tier II and tier III in terms of absolute growth.

In fact, we have multiple stores in Patna, Indore, Ranchi – these places which are giving us fabulous results. Also because a lot of the metros are saturated in terms of number of stores there's only so much. The rest of the expansion is definitely coming from tier II and tier III cities.