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PGI Reveals 3 Key Findings of Precious Jewelry Consumers Post COVID-19

Report reveals key areas of opportunity for retailers to focus on.

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(PRESS RELEASE) HONG KONG — Platinum Guild International (PGI) publishes the latest Insight report on jewelry consumer sentiment and behavior for the four key platinum jewelry markets – the US, Japan, China and India. The Jewelry Consumer Sentiment and Behavior During and Post the COVID-19 Crisis report reveals key areas of opportunity for retailers to focus on – precious jewelry gifting in all markets, self-purchase in China and India, and omnichannel options.

In early May, the survey interviewed over 1,000 jewelry buyers and wearers in each of platinum jewelry’s four key markets. The survey1 focuses on jewelry-specific sentiment, general consumer attitudes and behaviors under the current COVID-19 crisis and in the near future, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on everyday life, relationships, and expectations for economic recovery and jewelry consumption.

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The report shows that personal meaning is the most crucial driver in all four markets. Consumers view acquiring and wearing pieces of fine jewelry as a symbol of their affection for their loved ones and bonds formed in those relationships. As a vessel of love and meaning, platinum jewelry holds a special place as consumers seek to reaffirm their relationships following a long period of anxiety.

“Jewellers needs to capture the sentiment that consumers are willing to shop for jewelry but pieces need to have meaning. In order to capture the potential for post-COVID-19 gifting, jewelers need to upgrade online and offline omnichannel strategy to better meet consumer needs post-COVID-19. Consumers want to see products inside the store but with restrictions it’s important to engage with customers more proactively through online channels in the meantime,” says Huw Daniel, chief executive officer of PGI.

Precious Jewelry Gifting for Loved Ones Likely to Increase

Jewelry pieces that are personally meaningful and will maintain value long-term are the key drivers among consumers in all four key markets who intend to spend more than usual on jewelry for themselves after the crisis ends.

Personal meaning is the most important reason in the US and Japan, whereas maintaining value is slightly more important in emerging markets. This emotional connection comes at a time when consumers are re-evaluating their personal lives and relationships, giving it the potential to become a net winner in luxury spending during and after the COVID-19 crisis period.

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Over 80% of respondents in China intend to purchase jewelry both for themselves and as gifts after COVID-19, much higher than the levels in the other three markets. In the US and Japan markets, consumers appear more willing to spend on precious jewelry as a gift post-crisis than for themselves.

Jewelry Has High Potential to Win Luxury Spend in China and India

The survey compares consumers’ willingness to spend more or same on various luxury items during COVID-19 and those willing to spend less, and indicates a willingness by consumers in the US, China and India to spend more on at least one luxury item during the pandemic. The results are especially notable in China, where consumers expressed a willingness to spend more on 10 luxury categories.

Chinese and Indian buyers represent the two most promising markets for near-term jewelry sales. The jewelry category ranks first among all 19 luxury items among Chinese consumers, and second among Indian consumers, proof of the integral role in both culture where precious jewelry tends to have a store of value and serves as a marker of social and personal milestones in life.

China’s platinum jewelry industry is in the midst of a V-shaped recovery with manufacturers reporting greater demand volumes through April and June of 2020 as a result of a remarkable level of replenishment purchasing in platinum. Retailers across the board have shown strong interest in a new generation of designs which provide stronger margins. In June, platinum jewelry fabrication volume had returned to small growth against the same period last year.

More Consumers Shop Online During the Crisis but There Is Still Strong Preference for Physical Stores

With most consumers largely shut-in at home due to government measures to control the pandemic, shopping in physical stores decreased heavily in all countries. Consumers in the US, China and India all reported an intention to increase their online jewelry purchases during COVID-19 compared to before the crisis, with Chinese leading the largest jump in online purchasing. Despite a surging trend of online shopping, over 70% of surveyed consumers in all four markets will still consider visiting a jewelry store once it is allowed, with 83% of Chinese consumers reporting interest in returning to physical stores.

Given strong consumer interest to visit and shop physical stores, the data suggests that “online-only” would not be enough for a majority of precious jewelry consumers. At this time, an integrated omnichannel strategy is needed for the precious jewelry business to best target and engage consumers and improve sales conversion through multiple touchpoints.

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With many consumers re-evaluating their priorities in life and gaining a renewed appreciation for loved ones, spending on products that represent personal meaning is a key expression of their feelings for family and friends.

Platinum jewelry, in particular, has an opportunity to gain a larger share of discretionary purchase that can retain value and meaning if manufacturers and retailers continue to prioritize new collections and design directions to meet changing consumer needs.

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