Industry / Marketing

Gen Z Goes Under the Microscope at WJA’s Leadership Forum


When you hear the phrase Gen Z consumers, you might think about TikTok- loving teens and 20-somethings who likely have a passion for sustainability. But is that all there is to this up-and-coming generation?

While that may be one layer of this generational onion, it is just a start, according to the experts who will be speaking at the fourth annual Women’s Executive Leadership Forum. The Oct. 27 event at Bohemian Hall in New York City is a partnership presentation between the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) and Citizen Watch America.

The ticketed event features a panel of speakers who know Gen Z in part because they are of that generation and have studied this consumer group extensively, says WJA’s executive director Jennifer Markas.

“As this consumer matures, more and more of [the jewelry industry’s] focus is going to be on how to capture their loyalty,” Markas says. “There are specific things we’re going to address during this event that will cover that and is relevant not only to the moment but also how we can move forward.”

The Women’s Jewelry Association is creating a new model where events like its executive leadership panels help members leverage industry research to help build brands, says WJA executive director Jennifer Markas.

Panelists include Mark Beal, author of three books on Gen Z; Rob Harvath, vice president of consumer insights for Citizen Watch America; Susan Chandler, the chief merchandising officer for Citizen Watch America and WJA president; and Carla Wilke, Citizen Watch America’s chief marketing officer.

Beal also is a 30-year marketing and public relations practitioner who is interviewed regularly by top-tier media. Beal collaborates weekly with Gen Z students at Rutgers University, where he teaches courses in integrated marketing communications.

Citizen Watch America will present its latest research study, “What Makes Gen Z Tick,” which examines this age group in relation to their interest in jewelry and watches. The panel will discuss Gen Z’s behaviors as shoppers in terms of what they believe, their attitudes toward luxury goods, and what drives Gen Z to buy. The panel also will cover key topics such as sales, marketing, merchandising, and sustainability.

This kind of educational opportunity, which brings in top industry research from major brands, is what WJA wants to use as a new model for its events, Markas says. “The goal is to partner with corporate leaders and companies that are conducting very impactful research and thought leadership,” she says.

Event tickets are available online and cost $450. All attendees will receive a Marketing to Gen Z Holiday Hot Sheet that highlights the top five actions a brand can take this holiday season to reach Gen Z. Plus, attendees will receive a copy of Beal’s new book, Gen Z Graduates to Adulthood.

Event sponsors include JCK, Citizens Watch America, De Beers, Macy’s, Stuller, and the Signet family of brands. The Women’s Executive Leadership Forum was developed in 2019 as a think tank–style convening of women leaders in the jewelry and watch industry. Its purpose is to network, evaluate industry opportunities, and solve business challenges, Markas says.

Top: The Women’s Jewelry Association is holding its fourth annual Women’s Executive Leadership Forum on Oct. 27 in New York. The event will highlight how to market to Gen Z. This photo is from a previous WJA event (photos courtesy of the Women’s Jewelry Association). 

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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