Lessons From Las Vegas
Retail jewelers planning their fourth quarter and holiday season sales strategy left JCK Las Vegas in June with optimism for the diamond and jewelry market as we move ahead.
Days prior to JCK, the De Beers Group reported that global consumer demand for diamond jewelry hit a new all-time high in 2017—rising 2% to $82 billion. The report hailed the U.S. as the main driver of growth, due in large part to the country’s positive macroeconomics and strong consumer confidence. It cited new designs and brand concepts as playing a key role in driving demand, with market research revealing an increase in self-purchase of diamond jewelry, representing 33% of total U.S. diamond jewelry pieces acquired in 2017.
In his annual State of the Diamond Industry keynote address at JCK Las Vegas, Martin Rapaport was extremely bullish on diamond demand in the United States. The chairman of Rapaport Group and founder of Rapaport Diamond Report forecasted a robust U.S. diamond market for the next three to five years. He emphasized that in order to remain profitable, retailers must embrace change and meet the emotional and social demands of a rapidly growing consumer base.
While bridal jewelry represents half of the diamond category, self-purchase is a third and growing. Sarah Gorvitz, who leads strategic communications and insights for Diamond Producers Association stated, during their presentation at the annual Plumb Club Breakfast symposium at JCK Las Vegas, that DPA is working to expand the definition of diamond-worthy moments and suggest new reasons to drive diamond affinity and purchase. Look for new self-purchase creative late third quarter.
Research shows that 7 in 10 women shoppers buy something for themselves while shopping for others, said Gorvitz. So, promoting self-purchase this holiday season could create a big opportunity for jewelers.
There are companies empowering self-purchase women in new campaigns for fourth quarter like Original Designs of New York. The brand’s “I am a Woman” campaign is a tribute to women, comparing the qualities of a woman to that of a diamond—beauty, strength, brilliance, explains Valerie Fletcher, vice president of design and product development. Popular designs include diamond-shaped pieces to remind women that they possess the qualities of a diamond; ladder pendants and rings using baguettes as rungs to symbolize upward motion; wheel-shaped designs to signify forward motion; and stones set with the culet face up to represent changing the power structure.
Brands like Honora also are empowering women with pearls. Kathleen Ross, creative director for the Richline brand, advocates how pearls empower every woman to come out of her shell and discover her own unique way to glow, a hot ticket item for self-purchase. To emphasize the point, the brand features real women, not models in its lifestyle photography.
Cora-Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and senior merchandiser for the Fairfield, Ohio manufacturer, Quality Gold, cited many styles popular for women self-purchase, including cool signet rings and monograms, new takes on lockets, and celestial and spiritual motifs. She also cited demand for lab grown diamonds, and positive feedback for its True Origin brand, especially in fashion jewelry (luxe for less).
Moreover, Colaizzi sees big opportunities for men’s jewelry, self and gift purchase, with leather styles mixed with silver or stainless steel and gems like agate, lava, and jasper popular. Corinna Bhasin, general manager for F.D. Worldwide, New York concurs, noting greater demand for designs with diamond accents, especially in bracelets.
Identify, Segment, Curate, Delight
Although the outlook for the diamond and jewelry industry is bright, jewelers need to be adaptive as the internet and communications technology continue to disrupt the supply chain and the way consumers learn about and buy products, reminded Rapaport. To remain profitable, he advocated jewelers identify and segment their customers, the products they offer them, and how they communicate with them.
DPA has seen much success with its targeted approach to promoting its “Real is Rare, Real is a Diamond” campaign. Deborah Marquardt, DPA chief marketing officer, said that after its first full year of funding, the campaign generated more than 5.5 billion positive diamond impressions in the U.S. market. If you are an adult, age 18 to 34, or have the media habits of one, it’s 98% likely you’ve seen “Real is Rare” advertising on average 20 times.
To help retailers succeed, DPA hosts a trade portal at diamondproducers.com that includes a new diamond e-learning platform, research and campaign updates, and customizable collateral.
In his keynote for The Plumb Club at JCK Las Vegas, author and consumer futurist, Doug Stephens, talked about how physical retail stores are transitioning from distribution channels for products to powerful media channels for branded experiences and stories. Sharing findings from his latest book, “Reengineering Retail: The Future of Selling in a Post-Digital World”, he advocates stores create experiences so powerful they catalyze sales across all purchase points.
“Unlike stores of today that are focused on four-wall sales, stores of the future will position themselves as true any-channel hubs,” said Stephens. “Don’t build stores, build stories. Think productions, not products. You’re selling experiences that involve your products.”
Alok Mehta, CEO of IDD, New York believes vendor-retail partnerships are more important than ever to achieve this goal. Creating collections that tell a story (i.e. Y.O.U., Harmony, Foreverday, 2BeLOVED), IDD offers a suite of support services like trunk shows, display and packaging, and marketing collateral to help retailers create unique experiences.
In fact, “Together” is the initiative DPA is pushing in targeted messaging and shared market intelligence, said Trade Lead Grant Mobley. “Our goal is to forge a true partnership that leverages each of our strengths to create a vibrant future for the diamond dream.” He encourages retailers use DPA resources and help share diamond content.