What always strikes me as odd about jewelry stores is how generic the experience is from store to store. When I go to Nordstrom, Macy’s and Kohl’s, I expect a different sales experience, a different price tag and different merchandise. Similarly, a steak from Ruth’s Chris should be somewhat different than one from Outback. While offering similar products, these places have a unique positioning, so they “own” a specific piece of the marketplace with their customer base.

So, if I owned a jewelry store, I’d rethink the basics with some marketing fundamentals:

  • Identify your target audience and delight them. Who lives by, works by, or drives by your store location? Understanding your customers is critical to creating the ideal store that will compel them to enter, look around and possibly buy. Does she want to be called “Mrs. Smith” or “Sue”? Does he arrive with an intentional purpose to buy or just to look around? Does she have a favorite stone or metal? All these extra touches help enhance the experience and may lead to more purchases and referrals.
  • Understand your competition and be different. What are the alternatives to your store? You need to survey other local retail stores, but what about online venues, the diamond and gold districts in places like New York, and home-based parties? All provide a different sales experience, and you should, too. The Apple retail store has turned more computer users into Apple fans than any other aspect of the company’s marketing mix. Apple already had great products, but they crafted a welcoming and helpful environment that was in stark contrast to the typical PC purchased over a 1-800 line. It is hard to be memorable if you offer only a generic experience.
  • Find your niche and create a positioning concept. What can you promise to your customers that will be new, unique, and relevant? This is the crux of marketing positioning. Find an opening in the marketplace that provides customer pull. You need to identify the primary benefit or promise that excites your customers. Are you about selection, designer only, personal shopping, gem expertise and knowledge, the latest Hollywood trends, or customization? The choice you make has a great deal of influence on all the other elements of your marketing mix — the location of your store, how you promote your products, your pricing strategy and your product inventory.
  • Match the store environment to the jewelry. How do you want your customer to experience your concept? I live in the Northeast, and I have two major choices for my coffee: Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. Starbucks encourages you to sit down, relax and chat with a friend. In contrast, Dunkin Donuts is more about a transaction. The chairs are uncomfortable, the employees are often less service-focused, and there is no music playing in the background. Think about it. A jewelry store offers high-ticket items, so customer relationships need to be nurtured while buying decisions are pondered. All elements of your retail concept should complement the buying habits of your target audience.

Empower yourself to bring freshness and shake up tradition. Just because “it’s always been done that way” doesn’t mean you still have to. Take the time to consider the trends and your customers’ wants and needs. It’s the only way to succeed in the future of retail.

Martha Guidry is the principal of The Rite Concept and author of Marketing Concepts that Win!


This article was originally published in the July/August 2013 issue of INDESIGN.

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