What I Learned at JCK Las Vegas 2016: Part 2



In addition, that is, to the single most obvious rule for show-going—wear comfortable shoes!

Last week, I blogged about the things I discovered at JCK Las Vegas 2016. Here’s part two of my key takeaways:

The defining product of the millennial generation isn’t a product at all. On June 5 at JCK’s new Showcase stage, Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for the NPD Group, gave a lively, fact-filled presentation on a number of topics relevant to jewelers.

He touched on everything from Apple’s retail revolution (“They’ve got more sales staff than customers—this is what consumers expect retail to be like”) to the “second stone” opportunity that characterizes the potential for selling bigger and better diamonds to couples taking a second (or third) trip down the aisle (“To me, that’s the sleeper discussion,” Cohen said). But in keeping with the marketing obsession du jour, he focused his commentary on how retailers can better understand millennials.

“What defined the boomer was the home,” Cohen said. “For Generation X, the defining product was a laptop. What’s the defining product of the millennial consumer? It’s not a product at all. It’s about being connected. It’s about how many friends they have. For the first time, we’re trying to sell them product when that’s not what they’re interested in. It’s about having an experience and sharing it.”

“How are you going to localize the ability for people to take your product and share it?” he continued. “Make that passion come alive and give them a vehicle to share it with everyone they know.”

Virtual reality is one very cool way to build excitement and engagement at retail. The JCK show made clear that the jewelry industry’s nascent embrace of virtual reality (VR), the immersive technology that creates a 3-D environment for people to experience using a special headset or smartphone-enabled viewing device, is gathering steam. At the Intervision demonstration in Elite Enclave, designer Wendy Brandes partnered with Richline and Luxe Intelligence to teach people a thing or two about the technology.

“VR is really well-suited to me and my work,” Brandes said, alluding to how VR allows users to see “complicated angles” in a piece of jewelry.

She wasn’t kidding. I tried the experience for myself at the Gabriel & Co. booth, where the company’s new Gabriel Magic VR tool was on display. I was able to click on specific images and spin them around to check out angles that I’d never be able to see in real life.

Gabriel co-CEO Jack Dominick is convinced that consumers will soon find VR shopping as easy and commonplace as buying from their phones. While the experience is a bit dizzying, I’m starting to understand why VR is such a buzzy topic. If you have a viewing device, check out this incredible Run the Jewels video, shot in VR, and you’ll catch my drift.

The Cuervo y Sobrinos store was the epicenter of culture in Havana—until New Year’s Eve 1958. I reacquainted myself with Cuervo y Sobrinos’ rich Cuban heritage when I popped by the Swiss watch brand’s booth at the new LUXURY Watch space and got to talking to Fredric Hill, the brand’s agent in North America and the Caribbean.

Founded in Havana in 1882, the retailer, I learned, operated from a five-story building in Old Havana anchored by “a hard-carved horseshoe bar where we served mojitos from open to close,” Hill said, citing the famous names that signed the store’s guest book, chief among them Winston Churchill, Greta Garbo, and Ernest Hemingway. “This was Vegas—they’d come and sit and drink. We were quite the meeting place.”

That period came to an abrupt end on New Year’s Eve 1958, the night before revolutionaries ousted Cuban president Fulgencio Batista from office and replaced his government with a socialist state led by Fidel Castro. “The family lost everything,” Hill said.

Which may explain why the brand, which was revived by Marzio Villa in 2004, distances itself from the Castro regime.

“It’s not a Cuban watch,” Hill clarified. “It’s a Swiss watch with a Cuban heritage. We’re pleased with all the attention being paid to that island now, but it doesn’t erase the past and the heartache.”

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The Historiador Lady by Cuervo y Sobrinos features red diamond dust on its exquisite mother-of-pearl dial.