How to Probe Shoppers to Understand Their Expectations

When selling, jewelry sales associates must consider the desired total customer benefit package perceived by each shopper and present a bundled offering that addresses the economic, functional, and psychological jewelry benefits desired uniquely by each shopper. What makes this very challenging is that many customers really do not know what they want to purchase—and often can tell jewelers only what they don’t want. This challenges sales associates to do an outstanding job of probing shoppers to understand their expectations.

1. Economic benefits. This can be a controversial topic in that some parties (including the Gemological Institute of America) do not propose selling jewelry as an investment. The alternative to selling jewelry as an investment is to sell jewelry based on value. Educating and informing customers of the value of each individual piece of jewelry can help shoppers expand their budget. Customers want to be able to justify each purchase. Selling the value of jewelry can increase what shoppers perceive to be affordable jewelry. Certification can support economic benefits. So can collections from highly desired jewelry designers.

2. Functional benefits. Helping customers understand what fashion outfits to wear with individual pieces of jewelry can really pay off. Customers are looking for expert advice regarding their approach to fashion, accessories and jewelry. Help customers identify jewelry in their existing jewelry wardrobes that will help them expand their use of a proposed piece of jewelry. Demonstrate mix and match uses of a proposed piece of jewelry.

3. Psychological benefits. People buy jewelry for the psychological rewards of owning, wearing, gifting, and self-gifting jewelry. Sales associates should probe to understand the desired psychological benefits of buying jewelry. There are times when some buyers want the excitement and positive rewards of making an impromptu purchase. Let customers know they are worthy of treating themselves.

Total customer benefits represent a customer’s perceived monetary value of the bundle of economic, functional, and psychological benefits expected from any given jewelry offering. Jewelry marketers need to focus on the product, service, people, and the company’s image. Customers buy a perceived value proposition that represents the total customer benefits.

Dr. Tim Malone served on the faculty of GIA for several years. Well known for his presentations at industry conferences and events, he now consults jewelry companies on how to offer sustainable competitive advantages, more effective differentiation, and sales, marketing, and merchandising management performance improvement. He can be reached at 760-305-7977 or at