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Eileen McClelland

10 Points on Selling Custom Design to Millennials



Matthew Ego, director of operations for Unique Settings of New York, is presenting a series of clinics on selling custom design to millennials. The clinics take place at Unique Settings’ booth, S12107, in the bridal section of JCK. Sessions are scheduled at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 31.

Millennials, as we well know, represent a huge opportunity for jewelry retailers.

Ego mentioned that that age group (roughly 25 to 34 years old) spend $600 billion annually, and in 2014 they spent more on jewelry than any other age group. By the time they come into your store, they’ve done considerable research and they are ready to BUY. All you have to know, Ego says, is how to relate to them and you’ll be able to walk them down that aisle. How do you relate to millennials? By customizing both their experience and their rings.

Here are 10 points to consider from Ego’s presentation:

  1. HELP THEM SHARE: Keep in mind, when millennial customers (roughly 25 to 34 years old) are shopping, they want to share EVERYTHING with their virtual friends on their mobile devices – from their restaurant meal to their new shoes. Encourage them to take photos and share them, because if they don’t, they may feel as if they weren’t even there!
  2. ENTERTAIN THEM: Shopping for jewelry is often a new experience to millennials. If your store feels “old-fashioned” and intimidating, and if they feel pursued by sales people, they will likely just leave. Find ways to entertain them (a photo booth?), and give them a little space to breathe. If you have prototypes in your store, make it easy for them to try something on independently of your sales staff.
  3. TELL THEM A STORY: Train your staff to tell an interesting story about your store. That helps millennials to feel like part of your story. “Stories are memorable and descriptions are boring,” Ego contends.
  4. SELL THE VALUE: When selling bridal rings to millennials, emphasize the lasting and symbolic value of the engagement ring, in contrast to the money they are spending on things that won’t last, like their cake and their flowers. “The majority of their budget should be for the rings,” Ego says. “Because the only thing left after the band has stopped playing and the couple has a hangover, is those rings.”
  5. LET THEM CHANGE IT: Millennials want to customize their rings, just like they customize their Chipotle burritos – or their own bodies with tattoos. “Why wouldn’t we want that experience when it comes to jewelry?” says Ego, a millennial himself. But it doesn’t have to mean a lot of work on your part. To your customer, custom design can mean making one little change to an existing style of ring you already have in your showcase. Keep in mind that margins on custom rings can be 15 to 20 percent higher than selling something out of your showcase. If you’re not offering changes, you are missing out: At least 42 percent of millennials already are buying rings they consider to be “custom.” They crave both differentiation and input.
  6. USE THEIR RESEARCH: Mobile technology is not the enemy. It’s makes it easy for millennials to share their ideas with you and achieve their dream rings. The majority of millennials do their ring research online, but fewer than 10 percent are buying bridal jewelry that way.
  7. OFFER CUSTOM OPTIONS: Custom can be an easy option for you. How many of your sales start with a customer comment like, “I like that ring in the showcase, but I want something a little different.” If you don’t currently offer custom, it’s possible to offer it by using a prototype program and a website system such as Unique Settings offers, Ego says. Once your system is in place, you can tell your customer, “That looks like a simple change. I’m sure we can accommodate what you are looking for. No one would have anything like this. I can walk you through the steps and you can create changes along the way.” Total turn-around time from submitting a drawing or photo to presenting a finished ring to your customer doesn’t have to take longer than about 10 days.
  8. INVITE THEM BACK: If they choose the custom route, keep them involved in every step of the process, from CAD to wax models, and seek their input as you go along. It’s a great way to bring a new customer into your store four times in a few weeks. How often does that happen?
  9. CREATE RAVING FANS: Once custom-design customers have been to your store a few times, if you make them comfortable and establish a relationship, they will become raving fans. And that represents the kind of word-of-mouth advertising you just can’t buy, Ego says. “They are not going to go anywhere else when a special occasion comes along. They are going to tell the whole world that Susan down at the local jewelry store is a wonderful person, because she helped me create my ring,” Ego says.
  10. SELL THEM A STORY: “Anyone can sell a ring, but to sell something you don’t have; that is a skill and that is a story,” Ego says. “It’s a story the groom can tell the bride, if the ring is a surprise; and it’s a story the bride will certainly tell her friends.”



She Wanted to Spend More Time with Her Kids. She Called Wilkerson.

Your children are precious. More precious than gold? Absolutely! Just ask Lesley Ann Davis, owner of Lesley Ann Jewels, an independent jewelry store that — until the end of 2023 — had quite a following in Houston, Texas. To spend more time with her four sons, all in high school, she decided to close her store. Luckily, she was familiar with Wilkerson and called them as soon as she knew she wanted to move on to bigger, better and more family-focused things. Was she happy with her decision? Yes, she was. Says Davis, “Any owner looking to make that life change, looking to retire, looking to close, looking for a pause in their career, I would recommend Wilkerson. Hands down!”

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