The Many Faces of Success

One area demonstrating Zale’s continuing merchandising innovation and market growth is its bridal business. Now almost 40% of Zale’s volume, the bridal category continues to grow thanks to aggressive TV advertising (“the backbone of our marketing,” says Zale chairman Beryl Raff); new avenues for building brand awareness (such as ads for solitaires in print and on morning TV talk shows and sponsoring the televised lighting of New York’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree); and creating demand for individual items designed to set it apart from its competition.

One of the most successful of those is Zale’s multifaceted diamond. A year was spent developing the product and marketing concept. The result is a diamond with 128 facets or more (versus the standard 53-facet cut) offered at a highly competitive retail price.

“It’s important to look for items and concepts that can differentiate our brand, especially in diamonds, which is one of the few items in the jewelry business which customers can compare [by color, clarity, or price lists],” explains Raff. But the multifaceted diamond is “totally noncomparable-because it is not listed anywhere-and that gives us total control over our product.”

The stone has other advantages, too, says Zale’s chairman. “It differentiates our brand and distinguishes us in the most important of all jewelry categories. It gives our people behind the counter something to talk about. And it unquestionably is much more brilliant because of the way the facets are cut and refract the light. That adds tremendous appeal to an item highly emotional to begin with-because it is probably being bought for someone who is engaged-and makes the stone very special.”

Zale’s multifaceted diamonds already are offered at core divisions in the U.S.-though each has its own, slightly different twist in design-and will be added to Peoples in Canada in the year ahead. In addition, Zale plans to extend the multifaceted diamond concept from round solitaire engagement rings to three- and five-stone bands, studs, and pendants.


A SNAPSHOT OF ZALE CORP.*


Number of Stores Comp. Store Increase Total Sales Volume Percent of Total


Zales

736

11%

$914 million

51%


Gordon’s

306

10%

$342 million

19%


BB & B

111

19%

$319 million

18%


Peoples

168


$155 million

9%


Zale’s Outlet

68

16%

$57 million

3%


Zale.com



$6 million

under 1%


Totals

1,389

$1,793,000,000

*Source: Zale Corp., Aug. 31, 2000, press conference