Holiday Planning Starts Now

While summer vacation plans are just heating up, retailers know they must keep the cooler weather months top of mind. Fourth-quarter sales will be here before you know it, and they account for a big chunk of annual revenue. To prepare for successful sales seasons, store owners must start early and make thoughtful plans long before the holidays arrive.

To do so, makers and merchants need to consider every aspect of seasonal prep, from buying the right inventory to having the most memorable marketing campaigns to effectively using every tool in the marketer’s arsenal to drive shoppers online and in store to buy gifts. To get products in hand on time, Heather Brown of The Kingswood Company urges retailers to ask manufacturers “when orders must be placed to receive shipments in time for holiday sales,” says the vice president of content and editorial.

For great marketing campaigns, make sure product and lifestyle (model) photography is professionally executed, and use the visuals wisely to command attention. Ostbye’s merchandise manager Theresa Namie finds that “making Reels with everyday people” captures many eyeballs.

Finally, use the right tools to reach shoppers. Worthwhile resources include social media, especially Instagram, conversational and engaging written posts that ignite viewers’ curiosity—as opposed to hard sells—as well as emotion-inspiring and romantic product back stories. Creating low-key settings that allow shoppers to peruse products while enjoying another primary activity (think spa treatments or vintage car shows) are also encouraged.

“Bring the customer and the product together,” recommends Sam Hupp, vice president of sales and marketing for Paris 1901. “Now sales are about providing a value for the customer’s time.”

Hot Sellers for 4th Quarter

By this point in the year, many holiday inventories have already been ordered, with merchants hoping their selections will sell well across the product categories. While some jewelry choices never surprise, many more are often educated gambles by makers and merchants.

“We look at everything in the jewelry market, magazines, trade shows, runway shows, retail stores, employees, reality TV, and social media,” says Theresa Namie, marketing manager of Ostbye.Then we focus in on what would be special enough to last longer than a seasonal trend and would price well in that category.”

Ostbye

Her best-sellers routinely include a Christmas cross along with new looks with wide appeal (think flowers) to present low-risk options. Happily, retailer requests can skew more adventurous—like this year as store owners have asked for bold gold, gemstones, and a new elevated silver and diamond line, she adds.

“Retailers have been asking for yellow gold in fashion jewelry, elevated silver designs, color, organic motifs, signet rings, and wide band designs,” says Namie.

At Paris 1901, Sam Hupp, vice president of sales and marketing, is hoping that two new collections will speak to customers and their clients. Hupp has a men’s line called ETHOS and a new lab-grown diamond line called Monte Luna, with styles designed to appeal to demi-fine jewelry fans. The latter was created specifically for consumers who are “leaning into jewelry at a price to enhance their wardrobes,” he says.

“You can turn a look into something new with amazing new diamond and ruby earrings,” he continues. “Or adding layered bracelets can change the appearance of a basic shirt.”

His firm’s 2024 offerings already have an advantage because of his team’s keen product analyses.

“We have a few incredible men’s pendants and chains that are already beating last year’s sales,” he says. “For women, our diamond accent demi-bracelets will be the go-to for approachable jewelry gift giving.”

 Imperial Pearl

His retailers are also asking for romanceable product and stories to engage customers. These will help build trust and keep shoppers in stores longer, ultimately leading to improved sales. For sure, sharing insights, market trends, and successful concepts are critical for all.

“The days of everyone against everyone are over since the pandemic,” observes Hupp. “Now, we need to encourage and help each other find success. Ultimately, market growth helps us all.”

Imperial Pearl is hoping that more 4th quarter sales will take shape in the form of some of its newest collections. Think silver and karat gold, pearls and flowers, 14k gold and pearls, and a seven-piece sterling silver capsule collection.

Goldstar Jewellery’s Steven Lerche, chief operating officer, hopes his firm’s relaunch of mined diamonds will be appreciated. “We need to get the consumer re-excited about natural diamonds,” he says. There will still be lab-created diamonds in assortments, however, due to consumer demand and flexibility of styling.

“Lab-created diamonds have made unattainable price points attainable with the use of small fancies and creative shapes of diamonds that would normally only be accessible to the affluent who shopped top brands,” he says.

Aneri Jewels is banking on seasonal-themed motifs to resonate with shoppers. Director Nancy Italia-Gajera says those items will “evoke the spirit of celebration and gifting.” That’s why she anticipates her firm’s Snowflake diamond pendant will be a 4th quarter hit. That, along with new gemstone cuts and color combinations, will “keep our collections fresh and appealing to evolving consumer tastes,” she adds.

KGS Jewels is banking on medallion pendants in 14k gold with diamond accents to land in the holiday gift piles of many, while Shefi Diamonds thinks its yellow diamonds, yellow textured gold, enamel, and rubellite tourmaline offerings will sell well.

Aneri Jewels

“The secret to crafting jewelry that everyone wants is sticking to timeless designs,” reveals marketing director Surbhi Jain. “Classics never lose their appeal.”

And to serve as the cherry on top of jewelry gifts, The Kingswood Company suggests retailers add cleaning products to inventories as stocking stuffers or teachers’ or hostess gifts. “Jewelry care and cleaning products provide the perfect add-on to holiday sales,” says Heather Brown, vice president of content and editorial.

 

Magical Product Campaigns

Those returning from North America’s biggest trade jewelry buying experience will have more than suitcases in hand; they’ll also have orders for what merchants’ hope will be hot sellers for the holidays. But inventory is just one part of the 4th quarter equation—another is marketing and how to get clients into stores. To make that happen, manufacturers make myriad visual tools available for customers to use.

Imagery is everything—from lifestyle model shots to still life to styles on white (also called pack shots), consumers need to see the product from many angles to drive home a desire to own it. Marketing surrounding new product releases can involve these three types of photography for each campaign. Frequency of efforts varies.

Ostbye

At Ostbye, Merchandise Manager Theresa Namie has three product releases a year, all with its own creative. At Paris 1901, full campaigns are shot once a year but are supplemented by “smaller launches with updated assets,” says Sam Hupp, vice president of sales. At KGS Jewels, new visuals are shot monthly, while Aneri Jewels shoots four times a year.

“We create new campaign imagery quarterly to keep our marketing fresh and aligned with seasonal trends,” explains Nancy Italia-Gajera, Aneri’s director.

Heather Brown of The Kingswood Company is also well-versed in the importance of visuals.

“We understand that providing beautiful high-end imagery for our full production line is imperative,” says the vice president of content and editorial. “Our image development is handled in-house by our talented design team.”

                Shefi Diamonds

Other opinions vary on whether to handle the imagery in house or outsource it. Namie does both depending on the tasks at hand. “For us it is just a matter of who can do [the job] best,” she explains. Most interviewees execute creative within company walls for cost-effectiveness and better control over brand imaging.

To create effective campaigns, consider a color scheme that will work across all four seasons. Effects and props should be simple. “We strive to keep the jewelry prominent by not using too busy of backgrounds,” observes Namie.

Consistency and a thoughtful approach are also key. According to Hupp, don’t break out the 5 ct. diamond rings for a message that’s supposed to speak to younger clients. “Know the end purpose before developing any new assets,” he says.

Prime Art & Jewel

Italia-Gajera urges peers to remember the most important aspect of new brand imagery— “Its ability to evoke emotion and convey the essence of the brand,” she says. Further, visuals should “resonate with the target audience and effectively communicate brand values.”

Once visuals are complete, put them into action. Photography is so important for use in ads, signage, and e-blasts as well as on websites and across social media platforms.

Namie creates content shared in weekly texts and/or emails and has marketing resources available online, while Hupp develops assets for partners to use on social media, in email, and for banner ads. And based on sales reports, the marketing team at Shefi Diamonds crafts “stunning” social media posts for retailers on request, according to marketing director Surbhi Jain.

“Keep your audience interested!” urges Namie. “Attract, not sell.”

 

A Marketer’s Toolbox

Reach is everything when it comes to marketing, and manufacturers have plenty of ideas on how clients can achieve their goals. Not surprisingly, social media—and specifically, Instagram—tops the list of most important tools to use.

“Social media is the number one way to directly receive and give feedback from your customers,” explains Sam Hupp, vice president of sales and marketing for Paris 1901. “Bringing along your customers in your business journey is necessary to develop a ‘genuine’ reputation. You build trust when you share your successes and struggles. Sometimes jewelers don’t realize that a social media account isn’t simply another advertising platform, rather it should be positioned as a window to the day-to-day business.”

Prime Art & Jewel

Nearly every expert interviewed insist that retailers use Instagram, calling it a powerful, must-use tool.

“An active account … helps leverage visual storytelling, foster engagement, expand reach, and facilitate direct sales, ultimately driving growth and success for the business,” says Surbhi Jain, marketing director of Shefi Diamonds.

How you craft messages counts, too. Hupp paints a vivid example for those unveiling new collections. “They can be promoted as ‘Come see our new collection’ or ‘I can’t believe we were fortunate to get to work with (collection owner) and bring (collection) to our showcases,’” he says. “‘The way they’ve done (fill in the blank) is so amazing to us.’ Option A is an ad, direct and a clean CTA, but option B provides an indirect CTA and engages the curiosity of the consumer.”

Successful initiatives can also include Facebook and Instagram Lives, notes Theresa Namie, merchandise manager of Ostbye.

“On these, retailers can talk about what is trending, fashion accessorizing, and teaching about gemstones and diamonds—all things that attract interest instead of just pure selling,” she says.

More examples that get results can also (ironically) minimize the focus of the product for sale.

“There are jewelers in the Phoenix area that partner with classic car groups,” observes Hupp. “They will bring in watch vendors for pop-ups while having the classic cars shown in their parking lots on certain Saturdays. The days of the hard sell are over.”

            Ostbye

Still more exemplary moves include on-target signage and storytelling. Nancy Italia-Gajera, director, Aneri Jewels, recalls one campaign that featured “heartwarming stories of love and connection, paired with stunning visuals of our jewelry,” she says. “This resonated deeply with customers and resulted in increased engagement and sales.”

Other tips to strengthen marketing include visualization and tenacity. Namie recalls recent advice from a marketing guru whom she heard speak: “Write down three adjectives that describe your brand, would your employees and customers say the same thing?” she asks.Build your store personality around those that you want to reach and live your brand. Restart. Refresh. Refocus. As many times as you need, just don’t give up.”

Know your customer and how they like to be communicated with, offer customized content and personalization, foster transparency and trust, and “engage in value-driven marketing that resonates with customers’ beliefs,” says Jain.

More toolbox tactics should include Reels, holiday fliers, and other creative that celebrates the products. “Audiences today want to see real-life images,” insists Namie.

“It’s business suicide if a wholesaler isn’t providing all the assets (digital and physical) to customers to allow them to market products,” adds Hupp. “Give clients the tools and let them speak to their clientele the best way they know how. Often you see larger vendors forcing a direction. When that happens, the messages are often lost due to the variation in the markets. Give retailers options in their assets to use what they believe works best.”

Shefi Diamonds

Private-label products and created content, including how-to’s and trends, can also appeal to customers, says Heather Brown, vice president of content and editorial for The Kingswood Company.

“When consumers return home with a branded product … it’s like taking out a mini billboard in their home,” she says with her company’s jewelry cleaning products in mind. “Our company offers customers a number of resources to support their marketing efforts.”