The opening day of the 10th edition of LUXURY & PREMIERE found many exhibitors pleasantly surprised in light of the current economic environment. Buyer turn-out was higher than anticipated, and the atmosphere was optimistic.
John Clarkin, national sales director for W magazine, presented W’s latest consumer research on the luxury market during his keynote presentation. “Luxury has been through a tough run, but there seems to be luxury consumer constants that should provide some bright spots for the remainder of the year,” he said.
Clarkin went on to discuss some of those luxury constants. He noted that the primary luxury customer is a woman whose average age is 43 and who has a household income of $225,000. Because there is still price sensitivity in the market, she’s looking for value in a luxury jewelry purchase.
Clarkin noted that there is still a desire for unique and special pieces driven by style and one-of-a-kind designs. Women consumers are not trading down but are still purchasing higher-end stones, platinum, diamonds, gold, etc., and are purchasing with confidence. Even though the economy is down, the luxury segment has not been tarnished, and consumers who can afford luxury still want to purchase luxury products.
Clarkin had specific advice for retailers: Demonstrate intrinsic value and recognize price sensitivity; offer discounts, bonus points, and affinity programs as well as in-store events with a charitable tie-in; provide special access or a unique experience such as a trunk show, designer visit, or first look at a new line; and offer preordering for a special piece.
Following the keynote, a panel of retailers shared opinions and advice on various topics. On the panel were Aida Alvarez, Mayors; Jeff Badler, Maurice Badler; Bill Bennion, Bennion’s Fine Jewelry; Randy Cooper, Randy Cooper’s Fine Jewelry; and Jennifer McCullough, Smyth. Moderated by Robert Bridel, of Robert Bridel Associates, the group responded to questions about how the economy has changed their businesses, consumer trends, gaining market share, and new ways of marketing. They also discussed consumer loyalty, branded jewelry, and keeping in-store sales staff motivated and productive.
Other special events included an afternoon snack provided by Modern Bride and afternoon cocktails featuring the American Gem Society’s signature drink. After a day of buying, the TAO beach party, sponsored by Robb Report, presented another opportunity to celebrate the industry as some 400 retailers and manufacturers gathered pool-side for the annual event.