Market Place

PGI OFFERS RETAILERS SALES SUPPORT

Retail jewelers breaking into the platinum market will do so with a little help from their friends – at Platinum Guild International.

A study commissioned by PGI of manufacturers, retailers and consumers found more than 60% of all platinum jewelry purchased in 1996 was specially ordered. In response, the organization produced a complete package of marketing and sales support material for retailers, including a Retail Starter Kit for jewelers still hesitant about moving into ritzier markets.

“We are disappointed to learn that still 18% of the respondents who wanted to purchase platinum did not, because they could not find it in the stores,” said Laurie Hudson, president of PGI, in a speech at the PGI Breakfast during the JCK International Jewelry Show in Las Vegas. “We here at the Guild will continue to work toward narrowing the ‘platinum gap,’ which separates platinum availability and demand.”

GETTING STARTED IN PLATINUM

Retailers can introduce platinum basics in their store inexpensively by using the Retail Starter Kit, offered in conjunction with Stuller Settings of Lafayette, La., on three levels.

The Platinum Bridal Collection constitutes level one, and includes seven engagement solitaires and wedding bands. The set is priced at less than $1,550.

Level two, the Platinum Accessories Collection, mixes a variety of platinum fashion jewelry, includes earrings, a diamond solitaire necklace and slides to make a set priced atthan $1,385.

The third level, the Platinum Fashion Ring Collection, offers four women’s rings in platinum, 18k gold and diamonds. The set costs less than $1,475.

Hudson recommends retailers begin with the level one kit. “Our research indicates that once a person buys her first piece of platinum, she must have more, and those purchasers tend to be loyal to the retailer who sold them their first piece of platinum,” she says. A study by Modern Bride magazine showed that 73% of interviewed brides who received platinum engagement and wedding rings planned to buy platinum jewelry again.

Support materials – including a Leatherette display unit, platinum signage, jewelry tags, consumer brochures and ad slicks – are included in the purchase of the kit.

ADVERTISING AND MARKETING

As platinum jewelry becomes more visible in retail jewelry stores, PGI has created a package of support materials and programs to help familiarize consumers with the white metal. Offerings include:

  • A series of 30-second radio and TV commercials based on the theme “Platinum: A Reflection of You.”

  • Complete with new orchestral theme music reminiscent of De Beers commercials, the ads are portraits of platinum purchasers: new couples and confident women. The commercials include space for local retailer identification, available at no charge.

  • Consumer brochures, avail-able for bridal and designer platinum jewelry.

  • Four-color separations, black-and-white ad slicks, postcards and post-ers available at special prices for retailers.

  • “Platinum” tags and signs.

  • The Edition V Platinum Jewelry Catalog, designed as a reference for working with prospective platinum customers. The catalog includes platinum products from more than 145 designers.

  • The Platinum Workbook, a “how-to” approach to selling platinum jewelry. Full of ideas and suggestions, the book is divided into sections covering customer relations, merchandising, sales training, public relations and in-store events, advertising and technical information.

  • The continued PGI advertising campaign, including ads in bridal magazines and multipage inserts in major consumer publications, including W, Town & Country, Architectural Digest, Vanity Fair and Vogue.

  • Technical support, including the Platinum Technical Hotline at (714) 760-8882. Available materials include the Platinum Source Book, the Platinum Papers (a collection of papers presented by experts at the Platinum Symposium during the MJSA/JCK Expo in New York City), Tech Tips: Retail Edition (a collection of technical information) and a technical Web site at http://www.national-jeweler .com/pgi.

Platinum Guild International U.S.A., 620 Newport Center Drive, Suite 800, Newport Beach, CA 92660; (714) 760-8279, fax (714) 760-8780.

I AM WOMAN, WATCH ME BUY

The status of the self-purchasing female as the primary growth market for fine jewelry was the focus of a breakfast seminar held during the Couture Collection & Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., in May.

The study, “Fine Jewelry and Today’s Style-Conscious Woman,” conducted for Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, was presented. The study says women purchasing for themselves comprise an untapped market whose clout will have a significant impact on the fine jewelry industry. (HFM publishes Elle and Mirabella, among other titles.)

After the HFM presentation, a panel of experts discussed marketing to upscale women. The panel comprised Bill Dodson, president of the Dallas, Tex., specialty apparel store Lilly Dodson; Gerri Meyers, president of the Meyers Group, a consulting firm on marketing to professional women; and Tessa Warshaw, a psychotherapist, author and consultant.

Results of the study were presented to the audience by Fred Smuta, analyst at Yankelovich Partners Inc., the market research firm commissioned by HFM. Statistics were drawn from interviews with 400 college-educated women ages 18-54 (average age, 40.7 years) in January 1997. The average household income of respondents was $87,600; 58% of them work full time, 77% are married.

Two segments of women were identified, “fashion-conscious” and “not fashion-conscious.” Fashion-conscious women agreed with the statement “I feel the need to keep up with new styles.” This segment showed an even higher predisposition to purchasing fine jewelry. Here are some of the key findings from the HFM study:

  • Overall, 74% of respondents purchased fine jewelry for themselves in the past, and 61% have shopped to choose pieces they would receive as a gift. Among women who consider themselves “fashion-conscious,” 84% have purchased fine jewelry for themselves.

  • Respondents purchased an average of 2.3 pieces of fine jewelry in the past two years and spent an average $743 for the last item purchased for themselves. The “fashion-conscious” segment purchased an average of 3.1 pieces and spent about $838 on the last item purchased.

  • Overall, respondents visited a specialty jeweler or jewelry department an average of 6.6 times in the past year; the “fashion-conscious” segment averaged 7.2 visits in the past year.

  • Overall, 91% of respondents purchased 14k gold jewelry, 82% purchased diamonds, 76% bought silver jewelry, 62% bought 18k gold jewelry and 17% bought platinum jewelry.

  • For comparison’s sake, 97% of respondents purchased a car in the past, 75% bought a computer and 73% purchased stocks and bonds.

  • Ninety-four percent of respondents described “fine jewelry” as being of high-quality, 88% said it is well-made, 83% said it’s an accessory that enhances their looks and 80% said it can have sentimental value. Sixty-eight percent called it prestigious, 65% called it stylish, 64% said it is a good investment and 55% saw it as being for someone like themselves.

  • The study found some interesting changes in attitudes toward fine jewelry – 74% of respondents indicated they want to see more practical designs, 68% said buying fine jewelry for themselves is something they would like to do more often, 64% want to know more about the category in general, 60% are willing to spend more to get “the best” and 56% are interested in attending special events in a jewelry store.

Smuta explained some important attitudes behind the statistics. “There’s a new customer in the marketplace. She’s under 50, self-made, successful and confident, and she has a sense of flair and style,” he says. “But looks can be deceiving. She may wear jeans and sneakers, but with a $400 blazer and a $1,000 necklace.”

SILVER SHINES IN TABLEWARE AND GIFTS

Stand back as sterling silver skyrockets. Silver Trust International reports the popularity of sterling silver flatware and gifts is on the rise. In 1996, total retail sales topped $485 million, a 15% gain over 1995. STI gathered this information from various sources, including the 1996 “World Silver Survey,” trade resources and an independent study conducted by NPD Research.

Of the $485 million total, flatware accounted for $220 million, a 10% increase over 1995, with the greatest growth in higher priced lines such as Tiffany & Co., Georg Jensen and Buccellati, which introduced three patterns last year.

The sale of gift items grew 20%, or $265 million at retail. “This product category’s growth rate has been increasing annually, and we expect this double-digit trend to continue,” says Linda Meehan, director of STI. “Following silver jewelry’s tremendous popularity and influence, the surge of new product and category offerings has propelled silver gifts for self and home into the limelight. Silver’s intrinsic value and a healthy economy have also contributed to increased consumer spending on silver gifts.”

The bridal market accounts for an estimated 50% of total sales for flatware and giftware and is a constantly renewing source of potential customers. Weddings, Christmas, Hanukkah and christenings are the top gift-giving occasions. Silver picture frames are the most popular gifts, followed by baby gifts and items such as serving utensils and candlesticks.