Professional Jeweler Archive: Breaking Out of a Successful Box

July 2001

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Breaking Out of a Successful Box

Ventura Fine Jewelers' ads broaden its image from a Rolex store for middle-aged men to a place where young, engaged couples also get their rings


Sometimes one area of a jeweler’s business is so successful it eclipses others. The jeweler’s image becomes narrow and one-dimensional. Instead of a broad customer base, it disproportionately draws those looking for watches. Or diamonds. Or platinum.

In the case of Ventura Fine Jewelers in Kenosha, WI, “it” was Rolex. A good niche, but one that also seemed to cement the 50-year-old store’s reputation for catering only to affluent middle-agers. “Meanwhile, we were weak in engagement-level business,” says General Manager Steve Fredriksson, who wanted to convince 22-32-year-olds that Ventura is a place to buy fine engagement jewelry.

Fredriksson finessed this by turning the store’s ads into a mirror that reflects this target audience, allowing local 20-somethings to “see” themselves as Ventura customers. While continuing its tradition of advertising on page 2 of the Kenosha News – right next to the weather forecast – Ventura switched from line-art illustrations of jewelry to congratulatory announcements of upcoming marriages.

Central to these new 5-by-6-in. ads are photos of newly engaged couples solicited from Ventura customers. “It pushes some warm-and-fuzzy buttons that produce a lot of commentary,” says Fredriksson. “People especially seem to like off-beat and weird ones.”

Such as?

“We had one photo which the guy had told his girlfriend was only a set-up to test his photography equipment,” says Fredriksson. “He had the camera on a timer and, just before it went off, he reached around and put this open ring box in front of her.

“You couldn’t have staged that photo.”

Then there’s the fellow who proposed that Fredriksson allow him to use Ventura’s ad to make his proposal. “He knew his girlfriend read every page of the paper and wouldn’t miss it,” he says. Fredriksson agreed and photographed his customer standing in front of the store, holding his purchase. (Fortunately, the young woman said “yes.”)

Not only was it a nice stunt, he says, but the fact the young man proposed it to Fredriksson indicates Ventura is making inroads with its new audience.

The downsides: These ads don’t qualify for co-op ad dollars. Plus, only about 25% of engagement customers agree to participate. (A common objection is security; they don’t want to publicly announce that their homes will be empty on a certain day.) As a result, Ventura runs its congratulatory ads only about once a month.

– by Mark E. Dixon

After a series of ads congratulating couples who bought engagement and wedding rings at Ventura, this young man used the space to make his proposal. Fortunately, Kelly said “yes.”

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications