Professional Jeweler Archive:

February 2005

Cover Focus / Gen Y

Create a Youth-Friendly Atmosphere

You have to perceive the world as these younger buyers do


Bring these ideas into your store and you’ll soon notice more fresh faces at your door.

Entrances & Windows

Use your storefront and window display to show that your merchandise reflects a forward-thinking attitude – diversity of merchandise and drama are key. Members of Gen Y like their products personalized, so if you’re lucky enough to have custom jewelry, boast about it in your windows. Also communicate your online presence in your windows. It’s a sign to Gen Y buyers that you understand the way they communicate.

In-Store Design

Younger people who are used to shopping online don’t expect – or necessarily want – immediate sales assistance. Have some wallcases and allow them to get up close and personal with the merchandise that interests them before you try to have an extended conversation with them.

Plan your showcase layouts so they’re easy to shop. Display a variety of merchandise. Provide bullets of information to identify individual pieces so younger buyers can get some idea of what you offer on their own.

Technology Touches

Incorporate technology into your store design. Use flat screens on showcase or counter tops to show your jeweler designing a piece and the changes the jewelry goes through before completion.

If your jeweler does computer-assisted design, an internal window into the bench studio allows customers to see the craftsperson at work using high-tech equipment.

With a Gen Y customer standing beside you, search the Web for something from a line you carry but don’t have in stock. You may have something comparable to sell, or you can special-order the piece for them.

Incorporating technology in this way encompasses two popular trends: personalization/customization and the immediacy of technology.

Fashion-Forward Color

Suspend video screens playing fashion shows. Jewelry has entered into the mainstream as a fashion accessory. Make the pleasure of purchase a memorable and exciting experience in store.

Use color and texture with exuberance. Color combinations such as lime green and bright yellow are hot. Brown is the new black. Be bold. Yellow says “new”; green blue and reddish purple are fresh, and pink appears in a complexity of flesh tones. A suggestion: professional help can guide you away from the accidentally grotesque. Light alters color perception no matter what your generation. Visit a paint store and use the expertise you find there. Paint allows you to change the character of your store more easily. Even soft beige, pale yellow or gray are attractive to Gen Y if you add punches of very strong colors for visual energy.

Mix It Up

Turn things around visually. Bring floor textures and materials up onto the walls. Layer the color and texture to provide a rich, eclectic mix. Faux painting or adding sand to paint for texture adds interest. Collages of images, color and words create contemporary murals. Young artists know the look. Overlapping images come right out of the video culture.

Sight and Sound

If you have a larger store, develop an area specifically for Gen Y using sound umbrellas like you find in music stores. Tailor your sound or have it preprogrammed. A word of caution: don’t bore these customers with Muzak.™
Many Generation Y’ers have specialized interests: the environment, extreme sports, music and videos. How can jewelry be a part of these? Posters and backlighted transparencies provide information and add visual interest to your store.

This generation guesstimated at 57 million strong demands innovation and a commitment to change. Have fun. You have a whole new world to explore and new customers to attract.

Consider brighter colors for your store. An ad for Macintosh iPod Minis illustrates some of the colors Gen Y identifies with.
It may look like a lot of jewelry to you, but this generation wears adornment in its own way. Actress Scarlett Johansson dresses up for an Elle magazine photo shoot.

In-Store Selling Tips

“A store that appeals to a Gen Y buyer feels like a more relaxed version of a traditional jewelry store. Authenticity is key. There should be somewhere to sit comfortably (read: lounge-y).

“If the Gen Y customer wants to try something on in a unique way [such as: in her hair, at her waist or on an unusual finger] do not correct her. Instead, take it as a trend tip.

“Be prepared to answer questions about jewelry designers and where their pieces have been featured, including magazines, television shows and on celebrities.

“The box and bag your jewelry comes in is important. Don’t skimp in this area! It should be consistent with the rest of your image and your store’s signs, website, etc. She may not have a traditional jewelry box yet, so whatever you give her is probably where she’ll keep her jewelry, reminding her of your store and the fabulous experience she had in it.”

– by Michelle Orman and Jessica Milstein, Lüp/Reel Jewelry, New York City

Window Advice

“The products you showcase in your windows must invite young people into a store and into a lifestyle or brand. Show jewelry that inspires aspiration – it doesn’t need to be expensive. It just needs to move them in some way, convincing them they must enter your store to satiate a need or desire for the products inside.”

– by Helena Krodel, Jewelry Information Center, New York City

Ruth Mellergaard is a principal and Sarah Yates is director of marketing at GRID/3 International, New York City; (212) 273-9612, fax (212) 273-1180,,

Copyright © 2005 by Bond Communications