Professional Insider:Trend Spotting
Luxury Product Watch
Many companies lust after a piece of the high-rent pie
Because all products that command upscale consumers' attention whittle
away at their disposable incomes, awareness of the competition is crucial
for jewelers. So here it is, from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Motorcycles ... Again
They used to be called Yuppies, but the Baby Boomers who now motorcycle
to ride away from middle age are derisively called "Rubs" (rich
urban bikers) by traditional Harley-Davidson enthusiasts, reports The
New York Times. From surgeons with beepers to advertising directors
with kids in tow, these new bikers are everywhere, creating up to a two-year
waiting list for the American-made motorcycles. Rubs model themselves after
Liam Neeson, Matthew Broderick and other celebrity cool-seekers, reports
The Times. An exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City called
"The Art of the Motorcycle" just added to the cachet by celebrating
motorbike design. With bikes costing anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000, this
is one serious threat to a jewelry purchase. Tip for jewelers? Make wearing
jewelry look cool, quick!
When it comes to a safe "feel-good drug" for the late '90s, many
affluent women choose jewelry. But an arguably larger number are flocking
to day spas and other beauty palaces to feel the glow. The undeniable "experience"
involved in such pampering is a factor, but so are the products that women
cart away to prolong the happiness. Cosmetics companies are having fits
over all the makeup and skin products sold at day spas, reports The Wall
Street Journal. They're competing by bringing a little of the spa experience
to the department store. Companies such as Estèe Lauder operate mini-spas
on site, and Shiseido gives free shiatsu facials and foot massages at or
one hopes behind the counter.
Nipping at department store and day spas' heels is another beauty interloper:
luxury beauty superstores such as Sephora, France's well-known perfume and
cosmetics retailer. Sephora began its advance into the U.S. this summer
and joins other beauty "play places" where observers say women
can go and spritz 'til they drop and apply makeup enough to tire even Barbie.
Jeweler's challenge? You better have some expensive toys that customers
can play with too.
Food, Shelter ... and Toys Too
It's not just women and Baby Boomers retailers aim for with upscale products
these days. Families come in for their share of goodies too. Hardware giants
such as Home Depot, Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Lowe's all have divisions that
sell refrigerators for $7,000, deluxe patio sets and expensive Karastan
rugs, says The Wall Street Journal.
Mattel is hedging its bets that cheap old Barbie isn't enough for little
girls anymore. It recently bought Pleasant Co., maker of American Girl dolls,
which sell for close to $100 each and that's before the clothes, accessories
and books. Advice to jewelers? Help those indulgent grandmothers understand
that the doll will be in a trunk in a few years ... but even a little diamond
will last forever!
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.