Professional Jeweler Archive: Marketing to the Mass Affluent, Part 2

May 2005

The Store | Managing: 21st Century Consumers


Marketing to the Mass Affluent, Part 2

Promoting a variety of products to suit various occasions makes sense in an era when people have more expendable money


If you attended a fancy dinner party in the Victorian era, you might have found 25 – or more – pieces of silver at your place setting alone. These pieces were chosen from the more than 100 pieces that were in use at the time. Each piece was painstakingly designed to be used for a specific dish.

Were they insane?

Why did wealthy Victorians use such an array of silverware? The answer is simple and relevant to your business. They did it because they could afford to, and it was fun to collect and display all that silver.

That’s the message behind Paul Nunes and Brian Johnson’s third rule for marketing to the moneyed masses in their book, Mass Affluence (for a look at some other aspects of this book, see “The Affluence Boom,” Professional Jeweler, April 2005, p. 43). If you think the same principle won’t work today, consider Riedel, the Austrian glass and crystal company. In 1989, the company sold fewer than 2,000 pieces in the U.S. Today, it sells more than 1.5 million glasses annually. The secret? Riedel offers more than 80 styles of stemware, ranging from $8 to $85 per stem retail, for every imaginable wine and liquor. If you can drink it, you can probably find a glass designed to drink it from. And millions have done just that.

Event-Specific Products

Watch makers have had success with event-specific products. Timex’s Ironman Triathlon watch took off because “it was designed for a particular use, in partnership with serious athletes and industrial designers,” say the authors. Obviously, the vast majority of Ironman Triathlon wearers are not triathletes or iron men (or women), but the watch became associated with an event and has a style that appeals to millions, so it sells well.

TAG Heuer introduced the Tiger Woods Link Caliber 36 and marketed it for use while playing golf. It was successful even though Tiger Woods and 90% of golfers don’t even wear a watch while playing.

Emotional Events

Diamond rings are indelibly joined in our collective conscious with engagement. Recently, De Beers’ Diamond Trading Co. began marketing three-stone rings to link them with anniversaries. If the industry can make these jewelry items event-specific, why not link other jewelry and events, ask Nunes and Johnson.

Some examples they suggest:

  • Travel jewelry, designed with tougher clasps and features to make them more durable and desirable for the segment of the moneyed masses who travel regularly.
  • A sapphire Sweet 16 ring that becomes as much a rite (or gift) of passage as the engagement ring.

Your customers’ lives are filled with meaningful events. They can celebrate these events just as easily without jewelry gifts. One key to getting them to spend more in your store is to offer them the added value of feeling that nothing else will honor the occasion like a particular piece of jewelry. It worked for engagement rings. It can work for every other meaningful event in your customers’ lives.

Creating an association between life’s milestones and a particular design, style or stone can help year-round sales. At the RJO show in San Antonio in January, James Porte of the Porte Marketing Group spoke about the importance of developing marketing programs that reduce your reliance on Christmas to make or break the year. Remember people spend more for birthday and anniversary gifts than for individual Christmas gifts because they buy only for one person at that event, says Porte.

Professional Jeweler wants to hear from you. What milestones do you market successfully? What ideas do you have for event-associated pieces? What would you like to see manufacturers develop in terms of products for specific occasions or demographic groups? Send your responses to pjdonahue@professionaljeweler.com.

Copyright © 2005 by Bond Communications