Retailers Don't Have to Be Sheep
We are going brand crazy in this country. It's now hit the diamond world,
with ads for branded "ideal" cuts and De Beers' talk of branding
its own. Yet some of the brightest public relations and advertising professionals
in America are beginning to wonder in print whether branding of specific
products is dead.
Why? Because if everyone does it, where's the exclusivity? While walking
down a street in Philadelphia recently, I passed a jewelry store with a
70%-off promotion, and then I noticed another sign touting the store's branded
diamond cut (it wasn't any of the brands currently advertising to our trade).
This is not to say selling good diamond cuts (whether you call them "ideal"
or some other name) is a bad thing. In fact, the sexy appeal of great cut
(which good jewelers have always understood) is a marvelous way to individualize
diamonds and help consumers choose a diamond that's a good value and of
Neither are name brands a bad thing if approached within the context
of your store's brand. I just find myself wondering whether branded diamonds
are going to retain their pizzazz if every independent jeweler, jewelry
chain and discounter has one. You'll begin to hear customers say things
like, "Yeah, yeah, everybody's got their diamond brands what
else can you tell me?"
What else, indeed. For the independent jeweler, at least, there's an
opportunity to establish that the only brand a consumer should trust is
the jeweler himself or herself. Whether you sell loose diamonds, platinum,
watches or silver, your store should be "the only cause I'm interested
in," to paraphrase Bogie in Casablanca. The brands you do carry should
be secondary to the message that you are the consumer's guiding light and
can wade through the mind-boggling array of advertised products to offer
the best value and highest quality.
I'm reminded of two of my favorite cartoons. One is a picture of a herd
of sheep, with one sheep in the middle standing up on its hind legs yelling,
"Wait a minute! Wait a minute! We don't have to be just sheep!"
The second shows a family of lemmings driving in their car on vacation,
with the daddy lemming shouting, "So help me, if you kids don't shut
up, I'm going to drive this car right off a cliff!!"
Sheep and lemmings, they both travel in packs and sometimes go in problematic
directions. Jewelers don't have to, if they build an image and nurture relationships
in their communities. Then no matter what brand craze surfaces, that bond
between jeweler and customer will outlast them all.
by Peggy Jo Donahue
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.