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Country Brand: Elevating Gem and Jewelry Export

Mar 10, 2021
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        As gem and jewelry trade competition in the global market has become more and more intense, entrepreneurs have to be prepared, look for ways to adapt, and boost their competitiveness. They may develop efficient manufacturing process for standardized quality products with competitive costs and set up a clear marketing strategy. One of the marketing strategies which more countries turned to is building a country brand through fostering a good image for their nation. It is a tool in assuring the nation’s product quality to boost export opportunity in the global market.

Country Brand: Influencing Modern Consumers’ Purchase Decision

Apart from contemplating on price, design, and brand, consumers also select a product based on country of origin or country brand. On a product’s label, they look for where it was made, for example, made in Japan or made in Germany. If the product was made in a country with a positive image for consumers, they will be certain of its quality. They will choose to pay in spite of its higher price. A country’s favorable image is built through accumulated reputation and continued image building.

Future Brand, a US trademark consulting company, has conducted Country Brand Index 2020 to rank consumers’ awareness on country brands of 75 countries around the world. The research shows that the world’s top 5 countries with a firm country brand were Japan, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, and Canada. Country brand of China, Thailand, and India, the world’s eminent gem and jewelry producers, was listed at the 33rd, 39th, and 67th place, respectively.

Country Brand: Raising Product Quality and Boosting Export Opportunity

Success and failure in global market trading greatly depends on a country’s reputation and image. Thus, many countries have chosen to build their country brand through marketing strategy of fostering a positive image and developing product quality to meet global standards. The followings are examples of producers focusing on creating a country brand.

China has been driving its Made in China policy since 2015. The Made in China 2025 strategy was announced in the 13th Economic and Social Development Plan (2016-2021). According to the strategy, China has changed its production pattern from concentrating on quantity to quality and shifted to using advanced and environmental- friendly production technology. The country aims at being the world’s production superpower within the next decade1

        Formerly, Chinese products were regarded as cheap and substandard products. However, the Chinese government’s initiative to encourage entrepreneurs to produce quality and internationally standardized products with reasonable price has elevated Chinese products’ quality. In addition, the country has been trying to market and build its country brand in various ways. For instance, Peng Liyuan, President Xi Jinping’s wife and China’s First Lady, is one of China’s key influencers playing major role in international platforms. She often adorns herself from head to toe with Chinese brands’ products. The approach helps create positive perception on Chinese products and turn the image of made-in-China products to gain more acceptance from consumers worldwide.   

        As for gem and jewelry product manufacturing, China is considered the world’s leading producer. Guangdong Province is China’s largest gem and jewelry manufacturing base. Many major producers were Hong Kong companies who relocated their manufacturing bases to Guangzhou to reduce production costs. In addition, many small to large gem and jewelry factories are located in Shenzhen, Zhongshan, and Dongguan. 

        In the past, Chinese gem and jewelry production was mainly labor-intensive. Production was dominantly for mass products aiming at consumers of low-to-medium purchasing power in domestic and overseas markets. However, after entrepreneurs have developed labors’ skills, enhanced production capabilities, and employed technology such as CNC technology and 3D printing to produce jewelry with more diversified and modern designs, more jewelry from China have successfully reached middle to high-end markets. 

14K gold jewelry

92.5% silver jewelry produced by a company in China

        According to Global Trade Atlas, during the past 5 years (2016-2020) China was ranked as the 11th world’s largest gem and jewelry exporter with the average export value of US 19,727.78 million dollars. Gold jewelry was its key exports, followed by silver jewelry, and costume jewelry. China was the world’s top gold jewelry and costume jewelry exporter, and the 4th largest exporter of silver jewelry.  

        Though, reforming the Made in China products for a better image among consumers’ perception has just been started, the efforts to improve its production standard and consistent brand image marketing will eventually enable China to produce high-quality gem and jewelry and snatch a considerable share of high-end market in the near future.

India attempted its major economic reformation in 2014. The country also introduced the Make in India initiative to attract investment from overseas and elevate production sector, creating new image for products made in India to earn international acceptance with the goal to promote the country to become the largest production hub of the world.

Gem and jewelry is one of the stellar industries driving India’s economy. The industry earned around 6-7% of the nation’s GDP. In 2020, it was the 2nd largest exports (following mineral fuels and crude oil), accounting for a 12% of the gross exports. India’s gem and jewelry industry started from household production, which relied on traditional small-quantity production and mainly depended on skillful workers. After that, more machines and modern technologies have been involved in its manufacturing. India’s gem and jewelry industry is currently the largest in the world. The country has gained global recognition for diamond cutting and gold and silver jewelry production. 

Jewelry by Nirav Modi

The trade statistics of the Global Trade Atlas indicates that during the past 5 years (2016-2020), India was the world’s 5th largest gem and jewelry exporter with the average export value of US 37,968.82 million dollars. The country’s key exports were polished diamonds, followed by gold jewelry and silver jewelry. It was the world’s largest exporter of polished diamonds and silver jewelry and the 3rd largest gold jewelry exporter of the world.

The Make in India initiative in which the government specified measures to support entrepreneurs’ development to manufacture products with internationally accepted quality and standard. It also induces overseas investors to establish gem and jewelry factories in India. Apart from generating jobs and income for Indians, it also provide learning opportunities on globally standardized production, which will be expanded to high-end jewelry production. Together with the country’s strength in highly skilled labors, the initiative will nurture Indian gem and jewelry manufacturers to thrive firmly and lead their products to gain more popularity in the global market.

Indian gold jewelry on

The President of The Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) talked about the Make in India initiative during the “DPIIT- CII National Consultation Forum for Make in India 2.0” in early 2020 that it will elevate Indian jewelry clusters toward international export standards and boost export. The country aims at increasing its gem and jewelry export value to US 75,000 million dollars and raise employment of 2 million jobs by 2025.    

Thailand’s governmental agencies have been promoting the image of Made in Thailand products for years through different campaigns, for instance, establishing a quality assurance mark for Thai products called T Mark or Thailand Trust Mark2 , holding product trade fairs domestically and abroad, raising a product recognition by advertising through various channels, and inspiring entrepreneurs to develop manufacturing capabilities. Private sectors have always been determined to manufacture quality products and develop product standards hence Thai products have been extensively recognized in many countries across the globe.

Thai gem and jewelry are competent and generate tremendous revenue for the country, accounting for 6% of the nation’s GDP. They are listed among the top three of Thailand gross exports. Thai gem and jewelry have been eminent in the global market owing to being the origin of “Siamese Rubies”, the distinguished gemstones. Being praised for their incomparable beauty, they were popular in the global market many decades ago. Despite its inevitable reliance on imported rough stones, meticulous colored stone cutting skill, expertise in gemstone heat treatment, large colored stone markets, highly skilled workers in jewelry production makes Thailand one of the world’s prominent gem and jewelry manufacturing and trading hub.

The trade statistics of the Global Trade Atlas shows that during the past 5 years (2016-2020), Thailand was the world’s 12th largest gem and jewelry exporter with the average export value of US 14,524.59 million dollars. The nation’s dominant product was silver jewelry, followed by gold jewelry and colored stones. While being ranked as the 2nd largest exporter of silver jewelry, it was at the 11th place for gold jewelry exporter and the 3rd for colored stone exporter of the world. 

Collaborative efforts between public and private sectors in consistently building positive reputation and image for the country’s gem and jewelry during the past several years have helped the Made in Thailand gem and jewelry to achieve recognition in quality from consumers worldwide. Moreover, its strengths in colored stone and diamond cutting skills and jewelry production, which require relatively considerable talent, experience, and meticulousness attract large overseas companies to establish their manufacturing bases in Thailand. Such companies include Pandora Production Co., Ltd., which has chosen Thailand as its sole manufacturing base for silver jewelry before distributing to their outlets around the world. Rosy Blue Diamond Co., Ltd., the world’s leading diamond producer from Belgium, also has its factories located in Pitsanulok province. The strengths have proven to international buyers that products made in Thailand are of international standard quality. Ultimately, their demand for Thai products is heightened.

Thailand remains steadfast in developing gem and jewelry production quality to produce high quality products corresponding to standards demanded by the global market. The image of Made in Thailand products is also consistently promoted to gain consumers’ confidence and expand export opportunity to become a leader in gem and jewelry export in the global market soon.

Silver jewelry by Piyapoom Jewelry

Actively forming a country brand requires time and mutual efforts from every sector. Additionally, in order to strengthen its brand, the country’s image marketing has to be continually focused on. Production quality and standard has to be developed to meet domestic and international consumers’ demand. The strategy will enhance competency and potential in broadening the country’s export to the global market.