ALLOVE diamond signing 12.2015All smiles at the signing ceremony to launch Soo Kee Group's ALLOVE diamond.
L-R: Dr Peter Lim (founder and Chairman of Soo Kee Group), COO Mary Lim, CEO Daniel Lim, All Love Diamond brand director Gai Assouline, luxury goods consultant Francis Gouten.
Photo by Sim Kih

SOO KEE Group launched its ALLOVE Diamond on Thursday, and signed an exclusive distributorship with All Love Diamond Limited for the ALLOVE brand of diamonds to be retailed under its SK Jewellery brand in Singapore and Malaysia.

The event was celebrated with the Group hosting a diamond industry leaders conference for the first time. CEO Daniel Lim discussed its business strategy.

Q: What is your business strategy in the fragmented diamond retail industry?

Daniel Lim:
We have a fair share of fragmentation in Singapore and in the region, with many companies in one big market place, from luxury and premium products to value buy and budget store. Such a market condition gives rise to opportunity for product differentiation. We can segment customers and create different experiences and solutions for them.

Daniel Lim 12.2015CEO Daniel Lim was one of the expert panel speakers at the diamond leaders industry conference held at The Fullerton Hotel on Thursday. Photo by Sim KihToday, it is not as simple as one single solution for all problems. You must know what your customer is looking for. A company with the capacity does well to introduce different brands that cater to different markets. Even within the same brand, it is possible to develop primary and secondary products to increase consumption within the same customer group.

Over the years, we have developed 3 brand names, each catering to a different market segment: the Soo Kee brand, the SK Jewellery brand and the Love & Co brand. We developed different product lines and totally different brand communication programs for each segment. For each segment, we had separate designer teams, separate marketing teams and trained the staff differently.

What we learnt over the years, especially for Singapore and Malaysia, is that relying on a single brand name was not effective. By differentiating between customer segments and presenting different solutions to each, we were more effective in expanding our market share.

Q: What are your challenges as a retailer in Singapore?

Daniel Lim: As a retailer in Singapore, we face some challenges: Good retail space is increasingly scarce. Rental rates are growing higher. Manpower cost is rising, especially for good people. 
Our challenge is also in presenting new experiences to our customer. 

3-stage model of customer engagement

ALLOVE diamondThe ALLOVE diamond pushes the boundaries in diamond-cutting techniques with an all-new 81-facet cut, which is specifically created to maximize light performance and eliminate light leakage.
First, we look at the pre-store experience. Today, we are no longer calling ourselves a brick and mortar shop. We are developing new channels of communication. We are talking about multi-channel engagement. The pre-store experience is about getting consumers to consume your brand even before they come into your store.

Then there is the in-store experience: How are we presenting the product? How are we crafting the customer journey within the store? We cannot just sell on product features. We must also sell on product benefits. We may even go to the extent of creating an imaginary space or aspiration for the customer.

We need to package this information in a way that the customer understands. Sometimes we need to be technical. Sometimes we need to be magical. At the end of the day, what is important is the customer buys your story. Hopefully, you can create an experience that the customer partakes in, be it a new selling skill or product customization. Once you are able to capture the customer with this new experience, they will speak of you.

After that, we talk about post-store experience management: How do you help or entice your customer to be your brand ambassador? If he or she takes a picture in your store and posts it on social media platforms, hundreds of friends may see it and your brand is immediately propagated.

If we sell something that is good and different, and we are able to build a story around that product, we have the opportunity to charge a higher price. We must continue to move forward, be it in terms of customer experience, technology or product design.


Q: How is Soo Kee responding to the trend of lab grown diamonds?

Daniel Lim: We are not retailing any lab grown diamonds. Neither is this in our pipeline.

At the end of the day, we serve the customer. If there is a demand for lab grown diamonds, we will find a way to serve the new customer segment to launch such products without hurting existing customers. We must ensure there is no mix-up between natural and lab-grown diamonds.

We are investing heavily to train our staff and to acquire test equipment to identify lab grown diamonds.

Q: What difference is there between the diamond market in Singapore and in Malaysia?

Daniel Lim:
  Singapore is small, but it is the perfect place to showcase a new solution because we have an effective banking system and a strong IT infrastructure. Malaysia is a much larger market. The key cities in Malaysia are quite fast in responding to trends, but other cities are more traditional in consumption demand. The markets in Singapore and Malaysia are quite similar. 

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