Gold needs to utilize the potential of the Web

Gold faces tough challenges in the age of dot.coms, needing to find a new image and markets with the help of the Internet in order to increase sales, gold experts said on Monday.

Speaking at the annual Financial Times gold conference in Rome, key players in the gold market and the Internet said for the metal to have a successful Web life it would need to market itself better and improve its now somewhat tarnished image, Reuters reported.

“The most important thing about gold is its image — intellectual capital is the real source of knowledge and power,” said Ian Lynch, principal consultant at U.K.-based Butler Group, an IT analyst organization

Innovation in the use of gold and the appreciation of its possibilities mean the market has to “think about the meaning of gold rather than the metal itself,” according to Lynch.

Drawing parallels with the platinum market, which has seen very successful marketing campaigns raise the metal’s image in recent years, James Courage, chief executive of Platinum Guild International, said the key was to find Internet success through jewelry.

“We ought all to be working together to promote our jewelry,” he told delegates at the two-day conference. While just 95 tons of platinum go into jewelry each year, for gold the figure is closer to 2,900 tons. “Not many people will actually buy jewelry on the Internet — some will, but most want to see, try, feel it — so you need reliable links with retailers. It’s all about giving the consumer a wider choice.”

Last year’s predictions for jewelry online sales fluctuated from $925 million by 2003 according to Forrester Research to over $1 billion in 2004 from $77 million in 1999, according to IDC, a leading provider of technology intelligence.

“Several factors have contributed to the growth of the online jewelry market, namely an increasing number of e-tailers, lower prices for online goods, technology improvements which enhance online viewing and the no-pressure atmosphere of online buying,” said Ron Mondillo, marketing and general business consultant at online site GoldAvenue (www.goldavenue.com).

“Rumors that e-commerce is dead have been greatly exaggerated…it has risen and fallen but is never going to fade away. Companies need to be in a position to take advantage of the Internet as the medium settles into the background, becoming an integral part of the daily lives of billions of people around the globe.”