Navigating the Future

In this issue, we’re happy to announce the first of five new regular exclusive columns and features coming for 2006 in JCK. Debuting this month is “The Retail Advantage” by renowned industry marketing expert Rick Bannerot [see “What Is ‘Marketing’ (and Are You Doing It Right)?,” p. 150]. JCK is proud to have Bannerot’s perspective, gleaned from multiple sectors of the industry: luxury manufacturing (Rolex Watch USA), retailing (Mayors Jewelers), and multilevel marketing (World Gold Council). “The Retail Advantage” will focus on marketing strategies to build customer desire for both jewelry and the jeweler.

Next month marks the debut of “Our World,” a big-picture view presented by one of the diamond industry’s most respected analysts and observers, Ben Janowski. Janowski’s career in the industry spans more than three decades, during which he has addressed the needs of, and observed the changes in, almost every kind of retail distribution channel. “Our World” will identify and examine the macro forces that affect our industry—from diamonds to consumer attitudes—with an eye toward helping you understand where we’re headed in this time of great flux.

Also debuting next month is a “how-to” series by Internet marketing expert Renee Martinez, director of marketing for GemFind.net. Online retailing—or, more accurately, fear of the additional competition from it—is a topic of great concern to all retail jewelers. But the Internet is here to stay, and resisting it is both a waste of time and a battle already lost. So, as the saying goes: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Martinez’s column will help you join ’em effectively, offering clear, succinct, easy-to-understand (even for nontechies!) tips for making this emerging distribution channel work for you rather than against you.

In March, luxury consultant Martin Shanker brings his expertise to our pages with a column devoted to one of my pet topics: Positioning jewelry as an object of desire, not an object of discount. Shanker’s work with such image-focused companies as Cartier, Burberry, and Estée Lauder can translate to any jewelry store at any level of the market, since the focus of his writing will be to show jewelers how to sell on the basis of desire and value rather than price.

Contributing editor Glen Beres continues his profiles of well-known industry leaders, detailing how they used the knowledge gained from a wide variety of experiences to arrive at their current positions. In addition, he will begin a series of book reviews and interviews with authors of business books. Through these profiles, he’ll show how successful concepts from outside the industry can be adapted for use in a jewelry store to develop your business.

And of course, the columnists you already enjoy reading every month—Brad Huisken and Frank Dallahan—remain in their usual places. Huisken’s sales training tips are both an easy-to-digest lesson for new sales associates and a quick refresher for seasoned employees, while Dallahan’s new position as the head of the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America will lend insight from a side of the industry we don’t often consider beyond its ability to supply what we need when we need it.

Why are we launching these new columns? Because jewelers face far more intense competition for consumer dollars than ever before. In the past, giving the customers what they wanted was enough. Today, what they want is available in many more places, often at lower prices. Offering standard, clichéd merchandise—calculated to appeal to the widest possible demographic and the lowest common denominator—has been the downfall of many a major retailer, so it’s imperative that there be a greater reason than price alone for the customer to come to your store, and this requires a deeper understanding of market forces.

When even a household washer and dryer (such as the Whirlpool Duet) are marketed with emotional appeal and presented as objects of high design and great desire, jewelers have to work harder than ever to make sure that both the shopping experience and the product work together to create consumer desire. It’s about finding more distinctive product; offering a more distinctive shopping experience; and having, if not a specific five-year plan, at least a general idea of the direction you need to go to survive in the future.

We hope these columns, along with all the other comprehensive features you rely on from JCK, will be a good guide and road map. Happy travels!