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Now, gold at your doorstep

By Dilip Kumar Jha in Mumbai
April 06, 2009 09:41 IST
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You will now find gold everywhere -- from call centres and saree shops to friendly neighbourhood post offices.

Stung by the steep fall in demand for the yellow metal in the world's largest consumer nation, the World Gold Council is now falling back on the familiar marketing mantra: If customers aren't coming, go to their doorsteps.

The reason for the marketing overdrive by the Indian arm of the WGC is simple: India, which used to import around 60 tonnes of gold a month till last year, has seen zero imports in the past two months because of the prevailing high prices.

But the WGC feels prices would stabilise soon and wants to be ready to cash in on the good times when they come. Besides, the average yearly per capita consumption of gold here is below even half a gramme.

To begin with, WGC has identified 86 national and regional festivals as occasions to promote sales. WGC has had only nine such 'gold buying occasions' so far. This means, one in every four days will be treated as an auspicious occasion to buy gold.

WGC's India MD Ajay Mitra said the yellow metal was a sign of prosperity and the agency wanted consumers to feel prosperous as frequently as possible.

Mitra said the idea was to make gold available in every nook and corner of this vast country.

Large saree shops are one vehicle. WGC has identified 4,000 such shops which can spare space for small jewellery stores through a profit-sharing arrangement. A pilot project at a Nalini saree shop in Chennai is getting an encouraging response.

Call centres also carry huge potential and fit in well with WGC's drive to catch them young. The executives here have liquid cash and can buy gold, provided it's made available to them.

Another proposal is to sell gold through post offices. Under this, a postman can book orders and ensure delivery. The plan has already drawn a huge response in some urban centres and will be extended to branches in remote areas.

To ensure that the precious metal reaches the bottom of the pyramid as well, the council is planning to tie up with banks to sell half and one gramme gold coins.

Mitra said WGC estimates showed 800 million people in India wished they could buy gold in small quantities, but did not do so due to the perception that it was beyond their means.

"Our aim is to reach out to this section of potential buyers and correct that perception," he said.

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Dilip Kumar Jha in Mumbai
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