Categories considered “niche”, like men’s jewelry, pearls and color stones are among the lauded growth segments and retail profit centers in fine jewelry today.
Some businesses even create new niches by discovering and fulfilling customer needs that haven’t been addressed. Custom design service is a great example.
When looking at niche markets, jewelers should keep in mind the big picture. It’s not so much about finding the perfect niche, as it is clearly articulating your brand identity and being consistent with everything you do after that.
Know Thy Self
Examine who you are, why you are and what you stand for to determine the products and messaging that will work best for your brand.
Successful brands know their customers well and engage with them regularly, says Jonathan Goodman Cohen for the men’s jewelry manufacturer IB Goodman, Newport, Kentucky. He advises jewelers seek feedback from customers, both in-store and online, to understand what they’re interested in and what they value.
“Ask questions that determine how the products they wear play a meaningful role in their daily life,” he says. “Listen to honest feedback and observe customer preferences to develop effective merchandising and marketing.”
Choose a niche that is accurate and reflects an authentic need. It’s really limitless the paths you can take — from being the man cave in town and the source for alternative bridal to the birthday gift center and the destination for pearls.
Kathy Grenier, vice president of business development for Imperial Pearl, Providence, Rhode Island encourages jewelers to look at the competition to see what they’re doing, as they strategize their approach.
Multi-cultural, media savvy, socially empowered consumers are embracing a wide variety of products and services, cites research by the luxury trends forecasting firm, The Futurist for The Plumb Club.
Brands need to connect with consumers in how they live and spend their time, finds the research. It’s important to create value for the consumer and make him/her reflect on broader themes as opposed to a myopic view of a specific product or sector.
The research cites Dove as a great example of this concept. With its “Real Beauty” campaign, the brand shifted the focus from the product to a larger conversation of how beauty is perceived and the personal potential for beauty. By engaging the consumer with specific products, Dove was able to connect on a deeper, more emotional level.
Digital media provides ways to get the right message, to the right customer, at the right time. You can track consumers’ actions and behaviors online, to accurately map their location at any given moment while having a clear understanding of their interests and activities through everyone’s social media footprint. Among the tools are programmatic media buying across all devices, real-time marketing (instant gratification), data mining for new information, and geo-targeting that delivers content to consumers based on geographic location.
The online channel, according to Plumb Club research, offers valuable opportunities to create more variety and customization for the consumer. Online offers can provide different yet complementary products to a subset of customers looking for more customized alternatives than what can be found in store. And, it’s more cost effective to serve these customers through digital channels that will grow as the brand gains experience and customer behavior adapts and evolves.
Cohen hails digital media (website and social) the most effective way to test products, gain data, talk trends, and share gift-ideas and stories.
Engage & Persuade
Research also finds a shift from storytelling to story making, encouraging brands to stop talking to consumers, and instead engage in two-way conversations.
New technology for jewelers to engage and persuade was showcased at The Plumb Club Pavilion’s retail innovation center during JCK Las Vegas, including augmented reality applications, like virtual jewelry try-on; kinetic retail display technology that allows digital devices to call up product details by scanning bar code; and GeoFencing that creates virtual boundaries around a business to communicate with customers via smart phone.
Research by The Futurist for The Plumb Club revealed strong data validating two iconic motifs that resonate with consumers for significant purchase intent: the Polar Star and the Sun. The report found that society is looking for guidance.
The Futurist surveyed 1,000 consumers, women and men, 21-65 years of age to validate the motif that resonating with the majority as something they would consider wearing and buying for themselves or others either for self-expression, to make a statement, or tell a story.
The Polar Star and Sun have been constants in the sky that people have looked up to for guidance throughout history and cultures. These symbols are a source of spiritual energy, positivity, inspiration, and direction in life.
“Buyers want to know what’s on trend, what consumers really want, so anytime we can give them data and information to assist in selecting merchandise it’s a win-win,” lauds Cora Lee Colaizzi, marketing director and senior merchandiser for Quality Gold in Fairfield, Ohio. She says she is excited to track the trend through The Plumb Club’s collective Radiant Universe Collection.