Consumers Think Highly of Kay, Despite Bad Publicity

A Cowen & Co. survey quizzed consumers on their views of Kay, Jared, Zales, Tiffany, and Blue Nile

The recent spate of negative publicity about Kay Jewelers does not seem to have dented consumer perceptions, according to a new survey commissioned by Cowen & Co.

The proprietary poll was conducted by Sahler Research earlier this month and questioned around 300 consumers, in light of recent articles detailing problems with repairs at Kay stores.

When shown a list of national jewelry retailers and asked which retailer they have heard positive comments about, 44 percent of respondents picked Kay; 40 percent named Jared; 35 percent, Zales; 35 percent, Tiffany; 17 percent, Macy’s; 13 percent, Nordstrom; and 10 percent, Blue Nile. The first three chains are all owned by Signet.

When asked which retailers they had heard negative comments about, 11 percent named Nordstrom; 11 percent named Macy’s; 10 percent, Kay; 8 percent, Blue Nile; 7 percent, Zales; 6 percent, Tiffany; and 6 percent, Jared.

Respondents were further asked to rate national jewelry brands on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest. When ranked on quality, Tiffany topped the list with an average 4.35 score, followed by Jared (4.10), Kay (4.04), and Zales (4.02). Tiffany also scored highest on perceptions of expertise, repair services, and brand, while Kay ranked first on price and financing.

“Despite recent negative publicity highlighting misleading allegations about its business practices at Kay Jewelers, the brand health of Signet’s three core retail banners remain solid,” concluded Cowen & Co. analysts. “The level of negative customer reviews about Signet’s three core U.S. banners appears to be relatively in line with the negative review rates of its retail peers.”

On the question of credit, Cowen analysts noted that the company has resolved just about all the complaints made about it to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), but it notes that two-thirds of those complaints involve aggressive collection practices. Cowen also estimates that 38 percent of Signet’s sales are conducted with in-house credit, as opposed to the 60 percent reported elsewhere.

Other stats:

When you go engagement ring shopping, where do you plan to shop?


Kay Jewelers                           68%

Zales                                        60%

Jared                                        58%

Independent jeweler                44%

Tiffany                                      36%

Macy’s                                     27%

Nordstrom                              13%

Gordon’s                                 10%

Blue Nile                                  9%

Hearts On Fire                        5%


From which retailer will you most likely purchase your engagement ring?


Kay Jewelers                          30%   

Jared                                      18%

Independent jeweler              18%                       

Zales                                      14%

Tiffany                                    8%

Macy’s                                    4%

Blue Nile                                 2%

Gordon’s                                 1%

Other                                       4%


Source: Cowen & Co. Consumer Survey  

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