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October 1999

Precious Metals & Bench: News

Heavy Metal

QVC says it's just a big TV network that continually advertises the jewelry category

QVC is available to 70 million homes. Its Web site, iQVC, has quickly become the largest general merchant on the Web, John Calnon, QVC jewelry vice president, told a hushed audience at the International Gemological Symposium in San Diego in June.

Calnon wasn't there to lord it over brick– and– mortar retailers, but to convince them electronic sales merchants, via TV or the Web, aren't the devils they appear to be.

"Does QVC create new demand? Yes. Can we coexist with traditional retailers? Yes. Will cybermerchants crush traditional retailing? No," said Calnon, who was once a vice president at the mainstream World Gold Council. He shared these views.

Advocates for Buyers
Technology isn't the only key to QVC's success, said Calnon. Ecstatic hosts who act as advocates for the buyers at home drive sales. If QVC can do it, so can traditional jewelers. The hosts intelligently explain the jewelry while romancing its exotic origins.

The quality/value balance in the jewelry is there because consumers get what they expect for the price they pay, he said, calling this price integrity. QVC presents what it sells realistically, and consumers make a choice. Not everyone will be pleased with what $90 buys (QVC's average price point), but the company accepts returns.

"Breakthrough" customer service is a central focus, said Calnon, with knowledgeable order– takers who reward frequent purchasers and point out QVC's 30– day return policy. With its average purchase price of $90, QVC creates a bigger cohort of jewelry buyers and does not cannibalize the more upscale jewelry buyer base, he said. These new jewelry buyers may later patronize a traditional retailer, he said.

Successful Partners
Calnon said manufacturers and some retailers have partnered with QVC and found the exposure helped them create more demand for their brands at traditional retail stores. He cited a recent sale of Honora jewelry, which resulted in $4 million in sales in five hours of airtime. This helped boost Honora sales in other outlets, he said. Prices were clearly lower for the Honora jewelry sold on TV, and consumers made different choices about where to buy.

Brand names such as Judith Ripka, Robert Lee Morris and Fortunoff have taken the QVC plunge also. Fortunoff's experience was heady indeed. The company sold $168,000 in merchandise in eight minutes, with prices up to $2,300, and felt the appearance furthered its branding goals.

Research shows QVC shoppers shop everywhere, said Calnon. They are typically upscale Baby Boomers who have cable TV and excess dollars to spend. They're also likely to shop at luxury retailers. Just like the Prada customer who buys her drawstring pants at The Gap, a QVC customer retains the right to shop wherever she pleases.

For the future of storefront retailing, that's good news. But interesting products, well described and romanced, with exceptional customer service, are even more important to the traditional retailer's health. That's the standard many consumers have been taught to expect by QVC.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

 

The TV Branding Boom Continues

Gori & Zucchi and the team of jewelry manufacturer Frederick Goldman and De Beers sightholder Leo Schachter recently debuted branded lines on television shopping networks.

The Home Shopping Network, St. Petersburg, FL, introduced 1AR by Unoaerre, a 14k gold line designed exclusively for HSN by Gori & Zucchi, a jewelry manufacturer based in Arezzo, Italy. Retail prices range from $36 to $700. Though made mostly in yellow gold, some white gold pieces are available also. Jeffrey Taraschi, executive vice president of merchandising, says the line brings a new note of distinction to HSN. The pieces were romanced on air by the line's designer, Paola de Luca, and HSN host Colleen Lopez, who traveled to Arezzo to show off the company's factory and artisans and the Italian setting to viewers.

Meanwhile, QVC introduced the Promise Diamond™ Collection, produced by the Goldman and Schachter team. Scenes of a South African diamond mine and an Israeli cutting factory augmented the debut sale. The collection features

diamonds that are D, E or F color and retails for $185 to $5,800. Center diamonds that are 0.25– ct.or larger are laser– inscribed with a Gemological Institute of America certification number.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

Promise Diamond anniversary bands are between $1,120 and $1,600 suggested retail.

From the 1AR collection by Unoaerre, 14k gold polished and textured love knot earrings are $168 suggested retail.

 



Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.



 

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