Professional Jeweler Archive: It's 2005, Do You Know Who Your Customers Are?

January 2005


It's 2005, Do You Know Who Your Customers Are?

by Peggy Jo Donahue

I don’t need to tell you jewelry retailing is changing, especially where diamonds are concerned. With every new day comes fresh evidence that seismic shifts in the way diamonds are sold probably will alter their role in your business permanently (see our News section beginning on page 20 for more on this topic).

It’s not that diamonds won’t still be an important part of your sales, at least in the near-term – De Beers’ Diamond Trading Co. will see to that with its masterful promotion of the category. But the old retailing model of selling generic loose diamonds at generous mark-ups has been defeated by consumers’ growing knowledge of diamond pricing and their access to low-margin sellers on the web.

Now you have to sell diamonds more imaginatively – either with branded cuts that can’t easily be sold online or by buying or creating stylish diamond jewelry yourself that meets your customers’ emotional needs and sense of fashion and value.

Do you know your customers’ needs? How well do you know women and how to market to them, for example? Female consumers are making or influencing the majority of buying decisions in America these days, according to the experts (see our Cover Focus beginning on page 24).

What about Gen Y, the young consumers who are beginning to reach marriage age? These young adults are truly different from previous generations and they’re now your main targets for bridal sales.

Moving to the other end of the age spectrum, do you discount the buying power of older people? The voracious Baby Boom generation is about to enter its harvest years as the richest generation in history thanks to inherited wealth and stock market gains. Do you know how to keep them as avid jewelry buyers?

To sell diamonds – as well as other products – in this new century, you need a constant supply of information about consumer demographics. You can learn how to buy and create jewelry and to tailor your marketing, promotions and in-store sales strategies to the various groups who buy jewelry today. They’re not defined just by age and sex either. Aiming at demographic groups by their ethnicity and sexual preference works too.

Studies have shown such targeting can be highly successful in reaching jaded, bombarded consumers with the message that you “get” them and want to meet their needs. Bailey Banks & Biddle, for example, now offers designer jewelry, Swiss watches and fashion brands for women – and the men they influence – who are looking for prestige and status (see “Bailey Banks & Biddle: Appealing to Upscale Women” on page 38). “The customer is at the heart of all our marketing decisions,” says Mary L. Forté, president and CEO of Zale Corp., parent company of Bailey Banks & Biddle.

That’s what our new Cover Focus section is all about. Each month you’ll learn about a different demographic group and pick up tips from experts on how to market, promote and sell to them. We’ll also show stores and new products designed to appeal to the group we’re featuring.

Consumer demographics provide a fascinating peek at what makes us all tick (and buy the products we do). Use the information to your advantage and marketers say your sales will soar.

Copyright © 2005 by Bond Communications