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Eileen McClelland

What Jewelers Must Understand About Millennials, and 8 Other Takeaways from AGS Conclave

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After a few days immersed in education at the 2018 AGS Conclave, I’m eager to share some highlights from sessions I attended.  One theme is the fact that as demographics and lifestyles are changing, opportunities for growth and new directions arise along with all of the well-known challenges.

MILLENNIALS MEAN OPPORTUNITY. Retailers convinced that millennials don’t buy diamonds may not have all the information. In fact, millennials, who are now 24 to 38 years old, are much more likely to buy diamonds than any older generation, according to research from the Diamond Producers Association. Millennials spent $16 billion on diamonds last year, of which 50 percent was wedding and engagement jewelry. There are big numbers there, and big opportunity. By 2020, the generation’s disposable income will exceed $1.4 trillion. DPA focus groups reveal that millennials especially find value in the authenticity and rarity and individuality of diamonds. — From “Focus Group Confidential: Surprising Things We Learned From Millennials,” presented by Sarah Gorvitz, strategic communications and insights lead for the Diamond Producers Association.

CATER TO SELF-PURCHASING WOMEN. Women’s roles, attitudes and empowerment are affecting all consumer purchases. When it comes to jewelry, women are celebrating myriad moments in their lives, which can be unrelated to family or relationship milestones. A 2017 diamond acquisition study revealed that bridal represented 24 percent of diamond purchase value in the U.S; gifting, 47 percent, and self purchasing, 29 percent, which reflects a 50 percent increase over the past decade. Women’s spending power has increased, and they are buying more diamond jewelry for themselves. – From “De Beers Group Insights to Influence Your Marketing and Selling Strategies,” by Charles Stanley, president of Forevermark U.S.

CUSTOM IS KEY. Jewelry sales are growing ($91 billion in 2017) but jewelry sold by “other sellers” is rising much more rapidly than independent jewelry store sales. There are 91,000 places to buy jewelry but just over 23,000 jewelry stores. Today, 15 percent of engagement ring sales are custom; a decade ago, it was just 5 percent. So the ability to customize your offerings is key to increasing your sales. – From “State of the Jewelry Industry: Facts, Figures and the Future,” by Harold Dupuy, VP of strategic analytics at Stuller.

RECOGNIZE CASUAL TRENDS. Dress has become more casual and jewelry needs to reflect that trend, too. Remember that business casual is now the norm for office workers, while those working at home are likely to be wearing yoga pants and T-shirts. Make sure you can offer casual, wearable jewelry styles that fit today’s culture.  “Very heavy gem-set jewelry is the equivalent of Queen Anne dining sets or heirloom silver they have to polish. But it doesn’t mean they don’t want expensive jewelry. They just don’t want it to look like their parents’ jewelry. They value story, authenticity and individuality. You can’t count on younger customers growing into the taste for traditional fine jewelry.” – From “Too Old To Start Over But Too Young to Retire? Strategies to Balance Risk and Reward Amid Constant Change,” by Hedda Schupak, industry analyst and editor of the Centurion Newsletter.

HIRE CAREERISTS. It’s possible to shape millennial hires into serious sales people, but you’ve got to take hiring seriously yourself, first. That means no shortcuts or impulse decisions made to quickly fill a staff gap. Figure out who the job candidate is before he or she shows up for the first interview.  Joshua Pruschen, manager of Maxon Fine Jewelry in Springfield, MO, interviews each candidate three times. But before the first interview occurs, he asks each candidate to take a personality and skills assessment. If they’re joining the staff, he wants to make sure they’re interested in and capable of committing to a career. – From “Management 101.5, Managing Effectively, Efficiently and With Confidence.”

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EDUCATE SHOPPERS ON DIAMOND SHAPES. The appeal of a diamond shape to an individual seems instinctive, says jewelry designer Jade Lustig. Lustig is founder and creative director of Jade Trau, and a fifth generation diamantaire. If you’re selling a diamond ring, figure out which shape your customer is naturally attracted to. “A girl who wants an emerald cut doesn’t even see the other shapes,” Lustig says. “Her eyes glaze over.” Diamond shape should be a basic of everyone’s education, she says. – From “The Majesty, Mystery and Miracle of Diamonds: Why Jewelry Designers Love Working With Them,” moderated by Deborah Marquardt, chief marketing officer of the Diamond Producers Association.

MAKE EYE CONTACT. Studies show that 75 percent of the time the client is making eye contact with the seller – trying to assess their honesty — while the seller is looking at the client only 40 percent of the time.  If you were to increase your eye contact 50 percent or more, your credibility automatically goes up. But don’t do it 100 percent of the time – that’s just weird. – From “Sales Influence: Find the Why in (How People) Buy,” by Victor Antonio.

SLOW ‘EM DOWN. How can you get repair clients to look at jewelry while they’re popping in and out of your store to pick up or drop off repairs? In some strip center stores, it’s tough; a customer can literally walk down the middle and zing — right to the service desk. Consider adding an island, to create more of a flow around the cases. “You can’t make people look at things, but you can slow them down on their rush to pick up whatever the are there for. There may be a way to reuse your existing cases to create more of a meandering path, or maybe buying one new case would make it work.” – Interior designer Ruth Mellergaard of Grid 3 International, from “How a Store Renovation Improves the Customer Experience,” moderated by Trace Shelton, editor in chief of INSTORE.

PROTECT YOUR WORK. Any original work of artistic expression qualifies for copyright protection.  If a jewelry designer creates earrings in the shape of a bumblebee, for example, the designer can’t stop someone else from creating their own interpretation of bumblebee earrings. But a copyright can protect the specific design. The copyright is automatically secured when the work is created and fixed in a tangible medium. Notice of copyright is not required in the U.S., but filing for registration with the copyright office will help you prove you had the design at a certain date. To apply electronically, registration costs $35. JVC has published a guide titled “I Have An Idea! JVC’s Guide to Intellectual Property Law.” – From “Intellectual Property Laws for Jewelers,” by Sarah Yood, senior counsel for the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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Eileen McClelland

AGS Conclave Education Shines Light on “Female Self-Purchasers”

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Jewelers of America is working with the jewelry industry as a whole to grab the interest of affluent young women, and focus it on fashionable, fine jewelry.

The goal is to launch a generic advertising campaign to generate awareness and affinity for consumer jewelry purchases that would be on the level of the “Got Milk” ad campaign.

Dave Bonaparte, Amanda Gizzi and Molly Fallon of the Jewelers of America, along with industry consultant Mark Smelzer, have been working over the past two years to bring such a campaign to life. They outlined their progress during a session called “Update on the Jewelers of America Consumer Marketing Initiative” during the American Gem Society Conclave last week in Seattle.

“Let’s come together as an industry to tell the same story,” Fallon said. “By promoting this, everyone should benefit.”

The tagline they’ve begun to test is called “Another Piece of Your Story,” developed by the advertising firm Cramer-Krasselt, and based on the idea that there’s an emotional connection with jewelry that’s far different from how consumers relate to any other luxury product. Each piece of jewelry a woman chooses to wear becomes another piece of her identity.

And of course, affluent, self-purchasing women are recognized as having largely untapped potential in the jewelry industry.

Working with a market-research firm, they identified one target audience of 30-something, jewelry enthusiasts, married with children, living in a city or suburb, with a higher household income. They represent 8 percent of the population.

The other target is 20-something women, who are single, with a higher household income who have been largely indifferent to jewelry. They represent 11 percent of the population.

Also integral to the campaign are the following research points:

Authenticity is a top-ranked value among women.

Wearability is important as the culture becomes more casual: 40 percent of women 18 to 34 like to mix and match expensive pieces with inexpensive pieces.

Sixty-eight percent of women 18 to 34 buy fine jewelry to treat themselves, an activity they see as empowering, personal and also view as an investment strategy.

For example, women who buy diamonds for themselves today represent one-third of all diamond jewelry sales in the U.S., a $43 billion diamond market that grew 4 percent in 2017, according to De Beers Group data.

Harold Dupuy of Stuller, who spoke in a separate Conclave session about “Jewelry Industry Insights,” said that the average sales ticket in that category is $1,300. Generally, women are buying on impulse or for a personal milestone. Nearly half are buying fine diamond jewelry with no specific occasion in mind.

The Diamond Producers Association is also focused intently this year on female self-purchasers with “For Me, From Me,” its third wave of the Real is Rare, Real is a Diamond marketing campaign.

Conclave featured speaker Kelly McDonald said that women who like what they buy – no matter what it is — also have a multiplier effect. “Women are exceedingly enthusiastic about sharing whatever they like or don’t like. They’ll tell a million people either way. Women trust other women, even women they don’t know.”

Appropriately, the JA ad campaign will reflect that research by including a focus on influencers as well as more traditional forms of marketing.

JA is currently seeking funding from within the jewelry industry to test this ad concept over the summer in a single market in Los Angeles, representing five zip codes with a high percent of JA jewelry store members, a high household income, a high percentage of millennials and a high amount of social conversation that focuses on jewelry.

Matthew Tratner, GIA’s global director of business development, says a successful generic ad campaign can help the whole jewelry industry. “If more jewelry gets sold, it helps everyone in the room.”

For more information, contact Amanda Gizzi, director of PR & Events for Jewelers of America, agizzi@jewelers.org. To become a sponsor, contact Mark Smelzer, mark@marksmelzer.com

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Eileen McClelland

DPA’s E-Learning Platform for Retailers Romances The Diamond

Focus is on origins, rarity and benefits to gem-producing countries.

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“BEHIND THE BRILLIANCE of Diamonds,” the Diamond Producers Association’s new e-learning program, is a hit with retailers and particularly resonates with sales people on the front lines, says Grant Mobley, trade-relations lead for the DPA.

“The more knowledgeable you are about diamonds the more confident you are and the easier it is to sell them,” he says. “It’s igniting more interest and passion for the industry.”

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The idea behind the hour-long training program, split into three 20-minute modules, is that diamond information reaching consumers has become too technical. Research conducted by the DPA has revealed that diamond shoppers just aren’t wowed anymore by sales presentations that are fixated on the 4Cs.

Consumers, Mobley says, are not hearing enough about the romance of the origins of diamonds or how much good the diamond industry is doing in diamond-producing nations, such as Botswana.

“Whether you have been working with diamonds for one day or 20 years, the program relates compelling stories about the history of natural diamonds, easy-to-digest and well-researched facts, and memorable details about the important benefits that the natural diamond industry makes to the world,” he says.

The program was designed to supplement sales professionals’ existing knowledge of diamonds with information that the DPA has learned is most relevant to consumers.

“We do focus groups with thousands of consumers, and part of that research is finding out what the consumer finds interesting about jewelry and diamonds,” he says. “Consumers find the journey of diamonds fascinating when they hear about it, but a lot of them don’t hear about it. That diamonds are a billion years old, how long it takes a diamond to get to the Earth’s surface, the difficulty in obtaining diamonds. We wanted to share that information and encourage sales people to share that information.”

Mobley says the program is suitable for stores that sell both natural and laboratory-grown diamonds because it provides accurate information about the origins of both.

The education is also designed to help sales staff respond to questions from consumers about past problems in the diamond industry.

“A common misconception is that conflict diamonds are somehow rampant in the industry, which is not true,” Mobley says. “When a consumer is asking questions about things like that, your average sales person behind the counter maybe doesn’t know how to respond. A lot of people don’t realize the good that comes out of the diamond industry and how the diamond industry contributes to the countries in which they operate. We haven’t done a great job in letting consumers know how far the industry has come.”

Future modules will include much more specific information on those topics.

Mobley says the DPA plans to build on its e-learning platform as more research results become available.

“It is a living thing, for sure,” he says. “We want to be able to add to it as we do new projects. Whenever we can condense research into digestible bits of information, we will be creating new modules for the program.”

Another future module will focus on female self-purchasers, which is currently the topic of the DPA’s third wave of the Real is Rare, Real is a Diamond marketing campaign. It’s called “For Me, From Me.”

Women who buy diamonds for themselves today represent one-third of all diamond jewelry sales in the U.S., a $43 billion diamond market that grew 4 percent in 2017, according to De Beers Group data.

The “For Me, From Me,” marketing campaign will run through fall 2019 across TV, digital and print. As research progresses, the DPA will release a module on that topic and communicate its availability with everyone who participated in the first module.

“It is for sure the most well received campaign we’ve done to date, by consumers as well as the trade,” Mobley says. “Women were so surprised, so pleasantly surprised to see marketing about diamonds that was geared toward them. Part of the reason we created this campaign in the first place was that the industry was already telling us that over the past two years, self-purchase had been so much on the rise. Seven out of 10 retailers reported a rise in self-purchase.

“So we’re getting the increase regardless of the marketing, but the marketing will help take down the barriers that still exist for women who think it is not appropriate to buy diamonds for themselves.”

The DPA has signed up more than 200 stores to use the related creative materials and TV commercials and to participate in training staff how to sell specifically to women. Available in-store materials include tagged video, print and digital creative, visual-merchandising support and POS materials

The DPA has also partnered with Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts to offer in-store training and webinar-based training on how to sell to the self-purchasing woman. That training will be made available to all of the retailers who sign up as ambassador stores.

“Becoming an ambassador store is totally free, but we want to make it official,” Mobley says. “Not only will the retailer get free training and free assets, but they also will be the first to hear about new campaigns and things that we do in the future. It’s a way for us to keep in touch with stores that are gung-ho about our assets.”

Future modules will likely be shorter and include sub-titles, both suggestions made by retailers who have tested the program.

In addition to the training program being free of charge, there are rewards for retail sales people who complete the program. Points are awarded for each module completed and can be redeemed for up to a $25 gift card at one of several retailers.

“We realize that even an hour out of your day is sometimes difficult,” Mobley says. “That’s why we’re offering this incentive program. It’s a way for us to get people more excited about it, and let them know we’re taking their time into consideration.

Retail sales associates who complete the program will also be entered to win a grand prize for an all- expenses paid trip for two to New York City. Valued at $4,000, the trip will offer exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the New York diamond industry, including a personal tour of a diamond cutting facility. The drawing will take place in the fall.

Visit www.diamondproducers.com/tradeportal to access the e-learning platform.

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9 Things We Learned How To Do From 2018 America’s Coolest Stores

Store owners share their creative ideas.

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How to Create Privacy

At Marks Jewelers in Montgomeryville, PA, owners Jim and Dareen Brusilovsky, created a Diamond Diner, with diner-like booths. The Diamond Diner concept affords couples a comfortable, intimate way of choosing a ring at the same time it creates a more effective and private selling environment.

How to Encourage Browsing

Fakier Jewelers in Houma, LA, implemented a cell-phone audio tour for clients who like to explore on their own. The app is accessed from the store’s website and customers use their own phones, listening to descriptions associated with each display. It’s also a novel way to acknowledge the importance of mobile window shopping. “The consumer now comes in with their phones in their hands, usually with something they saw on our website,” says owner Greg Fakier.

How to Put Customers At Ease

At Marisa Perry Atelier, clients collaborate with the sales staff and with designer and co-owner Douglass Elliott, around a long, custom-made community table, where everyone can be comfortable and relaxed while creating their dream engagement rings. Elliott and his team made 725 pieces of jewelry by hand last year.
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How to Entertain Kids

At Bell Brooke Studio and Gallery in Santa Fe, NM, Belle Brooke Barer set up an art station in the courtyard she shares with neighboring galleries to encourage children (and others) to explore their creativity. “There’s absolutely nothing for kids on Canyon Road, and people come to Santa Fe with their families and drag their kids through the galleries. The kids are bored and the parents want to look around.” People of all ages are invited to make art there with paper, glue, scissors, crayons and markers. Some of the artists leave their work behind and Barer often displays it in the store.

How to Throw a Party

On the second floor of Stephen Webster’s Beverly Hills Boutique, there’s an art gallery, lounge and event area with a bar and banquet tables, where Webster and friends can easily accommodate dozens of guests for catered dinners. “We made a bar, we made a lounge, it felt a bit like coming to a club,” he says. “And you can come up here and see the things that I enjoy. I’ve done many, many shows with artists, photographers, musicians, fashion designers. The first floor is always Stephen Webster. The second floor is what Stephen Webster likes.”

How to Engage the Community

Viviana Langhoff, owner of Adornment + Theory in Chicago, offers monthly workshops where attendees learn hands-on techniques that help them create and appreciate the art of metalsmithing and other accessory-based techniques. She’s hosted workshops on ‘How to Make a Silver Ring’, ‘Shibori Dying: Make Your Own Scarf’, as well as ‘How to Read Diamonds’. “These workshops have helped cultivate community and further the customer experience. Not to mention, everyone has a great time. I love hearing the store filled with laughter,” Langhoff says.

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How to Be Dog-Friendly

Hillary Randolph, owner of Wear Your Grace in Santa Fe, NM, created a dog bar near the entrance to her store, complete with treats tucked inside a mailbox over a tromp l’oeil of splashing water from a faux-spigot. There’s also a real water bowl there. Inside, Randolph displays a line of candy-colored leather dog leashes and collars engraved with “Walk with GRACE.” Sales help support animal rescue organizations.

How to Sell Laboratory-Grown Diamonds

McCoy Jewelers in Dubuque, IA, began selling lab-grown diamonds three years ago, not expecting they would dominate their market. Now 84 percent of center diamonds they sell are lab-created, even though they do talk about the rarity of mined diamonds. The whole presentation is about offering up options and showing the stones next to each other, says owner Jonathan McCoy. Nearly 80 percent of sales at McCoy Jewelers are bridal-related, much of it custom.

How to Get Noticed

In 2017 Northeastern Fine Jewelry in Albany, NY, sponsored a contest to win the opportunity to propose in a live commercial aired during halftime of the Super Bowl on FOX. The winner was featured in People Magazine, the Daily Mail in the UK and the New York Times. They also sponsored a half-court shot during a Siena College basketball game; the contestant made the shot and walked away with $25,000, leading to intensive coverage from ESPN.

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