Celebrating Those We Love

While entering the throws of the winter holiday selling season, make time to start planning your strategies for important gift giving occasions that are upon us with the turn of the New Year and hint of spring in the air: Valentine and Mother’s days. Next to Christmas and back to school, these two holidays of love bolster the economy and are especially valuable to the fine jewelry business.

Valentine’s Day contributed nearly $19 billion to the economy, higher than last year’s disappointing $17.3 billion, and even higher than the $18.6 billion spent in 2013, cites the National Retail Federation. Jewelry takes first place as top gift, with nearly $5 billion spent on personal adornment. One in five, over 21%, bought a gift of jewelry, averaging about $175. The NRF cites the average-spend for V Day gifts was nearly $143, up from about $134 in 2014, with younger people, 18- to 34-year olds, spending more (around $169 to $213).

For men, Valentine’s Day is about spending and impressing their significant other, found the Valentine’s Day 2015 Consumer Intent Survey by Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research, sponsored by KPMG. But for women, the study revealed Valentine’s Day is more about celebrating all their loved ones, spending on average half of what men do, but buying gifts for more people, including children, other family members, and friends. Also notable, unmarried consumers in serious relationships spent more than their married counterparts.

Among the top three consumer spending occasions of the year, Mother’s Day contributed more than $21 billion to the economy in 2015, cites the NRF, up from $19.9 billion last year, and $20.7 billion in 2013. Nearly 35% of consumers splurged on their moms, buying jewelry to the tune of $4.3 billion, up from $3.6 billion in 2014. With about 85 million moms in the United States there’s lots of room to grow this gift-giving occasion for fine jewelry.

Consumers on average spent $175 on mom this year, up nearly $10 from about $165 last year, and the highest amount in the survey’s 12-year history. The study shows that 25 to 34 year-olds spent the most on mom at nearly $245; 18 to 24 year olds spent on average $215—with Millennials doing most of their research on smart devices, and nearly a third purchasing online. More than 60% of shoppers bought for their mom/stepmom, while nearly a quarter bought for their wife, and 6% to 9% shopped for a daughter, grandmother, sister, or friend.

Covert Messaging
For occasions like Valentine and Mother’s days, it’s all about the messaging. Gifts personalized with initials, dates and birthstones are among the most popular, reports Renee Miller, director of sales and merchandising for Alison & Ivy, a Fantasy Diamond brand, based in Chicago.

“A leading trend in gift giving for special occasions is our date jewelry,” says Miller. “Numbers are trending—the date two people met, birthdays of your kids or pets, special anniversaries—any occasion that’s important enough to remember. “Often, it’s just the month and day. It could be regular numbers or Roman numerals, even Morse code and geographic coordinates.” The messaging is subtle. Instead of a necklace proclaiming Jane and John, it’s J + J. She hails special order jewelry as a great way to build customer relationships, requiring a small outlay in stock, and realizing tremendous profit margins.

Iconic symbols like the heart remain a top choice for many gifters for both Valentine and Mother’s days, notes Courtney Galloway for Breuning in Lawrenceville, Georgia. “Hearts are always big for any occasion of love, especially new twists on classic styles.” She also cites the infinity symbol and spiral designs as popular motifs for these occasions.

In addition to different variations on the heart, the embracing mother and child silhouette is coveted in modern takes that are organic and abstract, or updated with different metal treatments, gem accents and special details, says Samir Sanghani, senior vice president of sales for Verigold, New York City.

Timeless diamond designs also sell well for these occasions, hails Nick Parekh for Laxmi Diamond, New York. He notes that while carat weights are rising, jewelers must be able to offer well-priced, well-made entry level designs in the ¼ to ½ carat total weight range that bring customers into the store for jewelry gifts.

It’s not just jewelry that resonates as gifts of love, but watches, too. Samantha Barker public relations and social media coordinator for Citizen Watch reports a strong trend for all things pink, red and blush for Valentine’s Day, citing as examples its ladies’ Silhouette Crystal watches and rose-gold tone stainless steel men’s models like its Navihawk A-T with lots of bells and whistles that up the wow factor.

Watches are the ideal mix of sentiment and practicality, especially perfect for mom, suggests Barker, again noting the brand’s Silhouette Crystal timepiece accented in Swarovski crystals with three interchangeable bezels. “This style of being able to change out the color tone of a piece of your watch is ideal for a mom that is always on the go, but still wants to dress up her outfit.”

Bling certainly goes a long way for lover, friend or mom, particularly in special timepieces. In fact, Bulova is concentrating on its Diamond collection with a focus on ladies’ products, planning a campaign to introduce this piece to the industry come Valentine’s Day, says Rachel Kirschenbaum, global communications coordinator for Bulova in New York.

Power of Suggestion
Simplify the gift search. Consumers are open to gift ideas that can make them look good, so jewelers must pitch products that are both holiday-themed and on-trend bestsellers in affordable prices, especially jewelry that can be personalized.

Keep jewelry gifts front of mind by developing scenes in cases throughout the store. “It doesn’t have to be overpowering,” shares Denise Cabrera, product manager, display and packaging, Rio Grande, a Richline company, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Use props, special fabrics and paper, photography, and other elements that call attention to these gifting opportunities.”

Marketing experts encourage jewelers to host in store events, cross promote with noncompeting businesses, make charity connections, offer special discounts or free-gift-with-purchase, and provide complimentary gift-wrap. “It doesn’t take a lot of time or big investment, but adds so much to the experience,” says Cabrera, who notes that while jewelers may have boxes, bags and wrap in its store color, they can change up ribbon or tissue paper colors for different occasions.

With most consumers, especially millennials doing a bulk of their product research online, jewelers must be engaging conversations on their website and social media platforms that share gift ideas and real customer stories (#HowWeMet, #MomMemory) illuminating why jewelry is the perfect gift of love.

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