From nonbrands to BuzzFeed retail, technological advances and changing demographics could shake up how jewelry is marketed and sold in the coming year, according to JWT’s annual trend report.
Among the trends Lucie Greene, worldwide director of JWT Intelligence, sees as possibly affecting the industry:
The rise of the high-level affluent woman.
What Greene calls the “Arianna Huffington generation”—women in high-level positions who prioritize their careers—will eventually change how luxury goods are marketed and purchased.
“There are women reaching high-level management, even in emerging markets like China,” she says. “The impact on luxury is quite interesting. Jewelry is typically being marketed from men to women for occasions. But when you have women shopping for fine jewelry, the language and also the category needs to change.”
She finds that the “very expensive men’s watches that are usually aimed at male buyers are now being marketed to women.”
Looking at demographic data, more and more Americans are deciding not to marry.
“The future is really singles, and that is across all different age groups,” she says. “The highest divorce rate in the U.S. is the over-50s. That is being led by China, and its famous Singles’ Day, but also it is starting to be adopted in the U.S.”
Being single is no longer looked at as being isolated and lonely, she says.
“Now single is considered being very social,” she says, adding that she is seeing much more self-spending on traditionally gifted luxuries.
Entertainment merging with retail.
“With the advent of Internet-connected television, entertainment and gaming is all becoming online and interactive,” she says. “That makes it seamlessly linked to commerce. A lot of retailers are using entertainment as a way to engage consumers. Amazon, one of the biggest e-tailers in the world, is producing original entertainment. To me, the next step is to make it very shoppable.”
She says that apps already exist that can let you buy products that appear on-screen.
Brick-and-mortar are now more about the brand experience.
Many physical retailers are now demonstrations of the brand experience, rather than places to shop, she says.
“Stores are becoming Disneyland,” she says. “It’s all about the entertainment. Lululemon is hosting yoga classes where they sell their items. Apple is hosting Q&As with creatives who use the iPhones. [U.K. department store] Selfridges has its fragrance lab where you go into a darkened room and they take you on this journey. Stores are just becoming places to hang out. With mobile, at this point, it doesn’t really matter where the transactions take place, as long as they take place.”
A change in how retailer space is used.
With online likely to keep cutting down the overall number of stores, many traditional retail-only malls are now becoming “mixed use,” with space for offices, pop-up stores, cultural events, even residential housing. Meanwhile, urban outlets are becoming “fewer but more massive,” Greene says, to offer more immersion in the brand experience.
BuzzFeed is the site known for quizzes like, What kind of cat are you? As consumers continue to seek out personalized products, some e-tailers are using similar quizzes as a way to increase user engagement and offer customized items.
“We are seeing in our data that millennials are rebelling against the idea of fashion trends,” Greene says. “The trends have become relentless and overexposed.”
That is why fashion is experimenting with “genderless fashion” and “anti-brands,” which pride themselves on not advertising.
“[Eyeglass brand] Warby Parker says, ‘We haven’t spent a lot on advertising,’ ” she notes. “That is really resonating. Right now, consumers can find information about any brand. There is this awareness of how much sunglass producers are paying for their license. Warby Parker is really the antidote to that.”
Another example: Everlane, a clothing e-tailer which states up front how much margin is being made on each item, as well as where all the items come from.
“It’s a way of demonstrating complete transparency,” she says. “People are skeptical today when it says Italian leather, because it isn’t always from Italy. So not only this is more responsible, but it’s a good way to demonstrate your item’s quality.”
Luxury on mobile.
While this sounds obvious, Greene points to data that 40 percent of luxury brands have minimal or no online or mobile presence.
“There is now no upper limit to how much any luxury consumer will spend on their phone,” she says. “You have $3 million transactions going through the Christie’s app. E-commerce for luxury is the new emerging market.”