While most product categories struggle with extending customer lifetime value, products and services that directly or indirectly serve the bridal market in Southeast Asia couldn’t be happier.
Such is the case with Niessing, a 140-year-old German jewelry brand that will be launching its first Asian flagship store in Singapore today. Revered for its clean and minimalist designs, Niessing has patented a precision technique that has received worldwide acclaim.
Since getting its products to market in 2014 through an exclusive arrangement with Lee Hwa Jewellery, part of Aspial Corporation Limited, the brand has experienced growth that gave it the confidence to launch a dedicated flagship outlet.
“The opening of the standalone boutique is the result of the overwhelming response from Singapore shoppers pursuing minimalistic yet arresting designs,” said Kean Ng, senior director of group marketing and business development with Aspial, now the master franchisee for Niessing and its strategic partner for the APAC region.
In the interest of achieving scale for reach, access, and distribution, Aspial helped Niessing secure retail partnerships in Singapore with high-end premium retailers, such as Rolex and Patek Philippe. And while the product does appear in outlets named after competing products in the same category, Sandro Erl, the CEO of Niessing, maintains that his product is not a competitor of anything on the market due to its unique design, such as the Niessing Tension rings that seem to suspend a diamond in mid-air.
“There’s a lot of know-how for craftsmanship that goes into our designs.” Erl asserted. “Design wise we do not have a direct competitor.”
While the business-to-business strategy is focused on achieving distribution scale with complementary premium high-end retailers, the business to consumer strategy focuses on the bridal market.
“We have two target markets,” Erl said. “Our bridal customers, who are between the ages of 20 and 30. And we look for customers that are looking for something exceptional. Niessing has designs that are polarizing, and we want to keep this positioning because the market is big enough to find the group of people that will accept contemporary designs and be outstanding.”
Surveys the brand conducted concluded that 20 percent of the target audience knows the Niessing brand. While the brand markets online with Facebook and Instagram, Erl maintains that for the sake of positioning it will use print for the Singapore market as a segue to the bridal market and the influencers that determine which brands become bridal-wear must haves.
“In a market wherein women are culturally expected to be married off by their mid-twenties,” Ng said, “the bridal industry and its direct and indirect products and services experience a tremendous uplift in customer lifetime value.” The younger the customer is when they get married with a Niessing ring, the more frequently purchases will be made [till death do them part] in the form of anniversary presents.
One of the tactics to draw in male shoppers is to involve them in workshops that hone in on the technological elements of the Niessing design and the craftsmanship that goes into the product. Erl says that this helps male customers feel confident shopping without their partner.
A common hack for immediate recognition of a new brand, particularly on selling high-end jewelry or accessories, is to line up an influencer or celebrity that is well known enough to draw in eyeballs. Ng however, disagrees with this approach for the Singapore market. “We have to look at the personality that represents the brand globally, so we will work with Niessing in Germany and decide on the celebrity that works for the international market,” he said.
Different markets have different levers, Ng postulated, noting that in China people prefer it when a Western brand celebrates the Chinese culture, as opposed to seeing a Western face. “But in Singapore, if a foreign brand comes in and adopts the local culture, you are dead, because the aspirational value drops to zero, and it ends up looking like a local brand. If you want to kill your brand fast, get a local Singaporean actress to front your brand.”
On marketing the product online, both Ng and Erl point to a digital experience that allows prospective shoppers to discover the engineering and story of the brand online, customize their own ring and book an appointment with a code that relates to their online activity. This is one of the many ways the business translates the success of online to offline. And while ecommerce is a long way off, both Ng and Erl firmly believe that online channels are essential for the awareness of the brand and the appreciation for fine designs that Niessing has to offer.
The Niessing Monobrand Boutique is opening today at 7:30 pm at #01-10 in Scotts Square.