How the Jewelry Industry Can Make the Most of its Digital Adolescence

L2’s latest study on watch and jewelry brand’s online performance showed the industry making significant improvement over last year.

Adrienne Ronai, the research lead on the study, answered a few of my questions via email on what the results mean.

JCK: Am I wrong in thinking there are many more positive signs for the industry this year than there were last year? De Beers, for example, improved from “challenged” to “gifted” and more companies are considered gifted this year than last. 

Adrienne Ronai: Absolutely correct. Watchmakers and jewelry brands continue to lag behind all other industries on most digital dimensions, but the category is coming into a digital adolescence. The watch and jewelry industry has a long way to go on digital, but conditions are right for the brands in our Index to accelerate their digital competence in the coming years and embrace the digital space as more than just an avenue through which to disseminate brochure content. 

JCK: What can brands do to improve? 

Ronai: Rate of adoption of e-commerce is accelerating—from 28 percent in 2010 to 31 percent in 2011 to 47 percent in 2012. However, site features that seamlessly hand the consumer off to a store for purchase are largely absent. 

For example, robust geolocal store locators with easy-to-access directions are infrequent in the industry; only 50 percent of the 28 brands L2 has followed since 2010 provide directions to their stores this year. Of those 28 brands in the Index since 2010, only 14 percent offer a Web form for customers to arrange a viewing or consultation. 

Brands that do not sell online should be particularly mindful of how they direct consumers to stores—without a clear, uncomplicated path to purchase from websites, brands are incorrectly treating their sites as brochures.

Search is another huge missed opportunity. During our data collection, we found that the average brand in the Index owned only 5 percent of paid search real estate and 25 percent percent of organic search real estate on Google. This leaves significant search real estate open to undesirable owners such as discounters and competitors.

JCK: And how can the companies that made gains keep up those gains and make even more? 

Ronai: Watch and jewelry brands traditionally inspire deep feelings among consumers—[they] sell high-value items that are meant to last a lifetime (or even be passed down several generations) and that usually commemorate happy, highly emotional occasions. 

Unsurprisingly, they draw the highest Facebook engagement levels—i.e. proportion of people liking, sharing, or commenting—of any industry L2 observes every year. 

Watch and jewelry brands are thus uniquely well-positioned to leverage the enthusiasm and goodwill they have historically enjoyed across several different points of contact—websites, email, mobile, and especially social platforms, which are a particularly effective vehicle for consumers to share, express, and build their already-strong emotional bonds with brands.