Know More About Your Customers

I see a tremendous disconnect between the jewelry industry’s views of consumer preferences and what consumers actually want. Among the main findings of MVI’s Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council’s research studies:

It’s not just Christmas. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day have become important gift-giving occasions. Many consumers could be converted to regular jewelry buyers if jewelers promoted interesting ideas for these occasions.

Consumers say they don’t know what is appropriate to buy or spend on these holidays, so our industry must present a united front of accepted gifts and price points. Working together we could introduce ideas such as a sibling holiday, which is popular in India and other Asian countries. De Beers has introduced concepts for gift giving, such as the three-stone campaign and the Sweet 16 pendant. The latter failed because the industry didn’t follow the message.

Fine jewelry should be positioned as the ideal gift to celebrate occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and the birth of a child. The Tanzanite Foundation, marketing agent for the tanzanite industry, wants to capture the birth category with its new campaign, “Be Born to Tanzanite.”

Market to women more. Women are becoming more empowered as their discretionary income and confidence levels rise, with married women (24 to 55 years of age) driving the market. Women buy fine jewelry the way they buy handbags, shoes, and other accessories. One in four women in a dual-income household earns more than her male counterpart. She doesn’t have to explain her purchases—she’s a breadwinner! Our research shows that for at least two-thirds of the year, female self-purchases accounted for 50 percent to 90 percent of the jewelry purchased.

Jewelers should maintain fashion-forward, affordably priced items for impulse buys, particularly during gift- giving times—80 percent of JCOC panelists say they’re likely to purchase jewelry for themselves any time they see something they like, with more than half likely to do so while shopping for others. In a September 2005 study, 40 percent of panelists said they’d buy jewelry for themselves while shopping for others during the December holidays. In November, half of all jewelry purchases were for the purchaser, but the trend didn’t continue through December; after Christmas, fewer than 20 percent reported buying jewelry for themselves during the holidays.

Don’t forget the men’s market. This is a potentially much larger market that could attract both self-purchasing men and gift-giving women. Since 2003, men have shown increased interest in fine jewelry. About 75 percent of male JCOC res- pondents report wearing fine jewelry, and one-quarter said they’d wear more if the selection were better and they knew what was available and how to purchase it. (Men like diamonds too.) Nearly half of our female panelists think men should wear more jewelry, and more than 40 percent would buy more jewelry for the men in their lives if they saw and heard more about what’s available.

The youth market has potential too. In a 2005 JCOC study, more than 42 percent of panelists purchased fine jewelry for their children; 60 percent expected to do so soon. More than half said their children like to receive fine-jewelry sets and would wear fine jewelry with nonprecious elements. Requested gifts include Y-necklaces, long earrings, chain jewelry, charm bracelets, diamond studs, hoop earrings, and watches. Valentine’s Day is becoming an occasion for parents to give jewelry gifts to children.