WJA Conference Highlights Young Consumers and Social Media

Today’s retailers must be responsive to younger and female consumers, said speakers at the Women’s Jewelry Association’s 9th annual “In the Know” conference, held March 1 in New York City.

Claire Shipman, senior national correspondent of Good Morning America, opened the conference by talking about women in the workforce as well as the female influence on the larger economy. “Eighty-three percent of consumer spending is controlled by women,” Shipman said.

Other seminars discussed the changing consumer landscape. “According to studies, 41 percent of millennials have made a purchase using their smartphone,” said Ben Smithee, CEO of Spych Market Analytics.

Smithee noted that sites like Yelp and Twitter make it easy for anyone to review a brand or product.

“Social media is the new word-of-mouth,” he said. “Generation Y will often forget what you say or do, but they will tell others how you make them feel.” According to Smithee, it is important to develop a positive relationship with consumers in person as well as through technology.  

Deb Berman of Buddy Media, a member of a social media panel that closed the day, encouraged business owners to ask themselves, “How can I provide engagement online?” She suggested uploading pictures and asking questions to increase social media engagement.

The panel singled out Mercedes Benz, Carnival Cruise Lines, Mary Kay, and Tiffany & Co. as companies with successful social media campaigns.

Panelists also discussed the growing popularity of Pinterest.com and the opportunity it presents businesses. “Pinterest is not just a board for products, but also a place to show what influenced and inspired your jewelry line,” said Paul Baranda, executive director of marketing of WMI Digital.

With an increasing amount of social media platforms to choose from, the panel suggested that jewelers focus on the sites that work well with their businesses. “Social media is like a 24/7 party,” Baranda concluded. “It never stops and is always evolving.”