Collection Marketing

June 1998

Managing:Merchandise

Collection Marketing

Display your merchandise strategically to send a fashion message to your customers

Few of us have time to pore over Vogue and W to see what's coming down the Paris runways, then interpret those fashions into practical, adaptable and affordable outfits for our everyday lives. We count on department stores and other clothing retailers to do the work for us - such as a grouping of Donna Karan's spring suits, shown on the rack with carefully chosen blouses as complements or The Gap's new line of skirts matched with T-shirts in a rainbow of colors. If we had to think much harder than that, we'd probably still be wearing clothes from 1985.

Jewelry customers shop much the same way, says Robin Garin, a jewelry designer for diamond manufacturer Kwiat in New York City. "You can tell a story when you show things as a collection," she says. "By emphasizing a particular concept, the look carries through and makes each piece stronger."

In her 20 years in jewelry design, most recently developing the upcoming Robin Garin for Kwiat line of midpriced, contemporary pieces, Garin has seen a lot of showcases and analyzed how the layouts of stores contribute to consumer interest and buying habits. Some ideas she shares when she visits jewelers include:

  • Deliver a message. "Some jewelry stores simply want to make the statement 'We have a lot of anniversary bands,' and that's fine," she says. "But customers can become overwhelmed if all the styles are lined up in a showcase." She suggests picking out themes - two-tone jewelry, diamond solitaire necklaces, European design - and grouping the jewelry in one place. "The message you're sending is, 'We believe in this style and stand behind this look.'"
  • Don't dilute the message. If you carry a designer collection, don't separate the pieces and spread them throughout the store, putting engagement rings one place, tennis bracelets in another. "In a designer collection, each piece has something to do with one another," says Garin. "The showcase has more impact if you group the pieces."
  • Create repeat sales. If a customer already owns a designer ring, she will most likely be drawn to a showcase to look at corresponding bracelets, pins or pendants. Collections also lend themselves as easy gift ideas for customers whose loved ones already own a designer piece.
  • Complement the look. Think carefully about fashion and use collections as a way to sell other pieces. "If I, as a designer, design earring jackets, jewelers might use it as an opportunity to show studs they already have in the store; if I design pendants, show a variety of gold chains that work well with the pieces." Like the way The Gap merchandises T-shirts, such forethought makes shopping easier for the customer and promotes extra sales.
  • Liven up the showcases. "Have fun with showcases by doing things most retailers reserve for their windows," suggests Garin. Separate merchandise, use unusual risers and pull in clever props - a doll, a scarf - to catch browsers' attention. To get ideas, take notes of showcases that catch your eye at the next jewelry shows or borrow ideas from ingenious window displays at local retail stores.

by Stacey King





Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


 

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