Marketing Priorities for 2018
by Ellen Fruchtman, President
We’ve all read about the closures this past year and there are retailers who are facing some real problems in 2018. Stores like Sears, Bon-Ton, Toys R’ Us and Michael Kors to name a few. And, no doubt, there will be more closures in the retail jewelry business as well. But, all is not doom and gloom. In fact, according to research conducted by IHL Group, retailers are planning to open over 5,500 stores in 2018. If you have an hour to spare, watch their presentation about the state of retail: http://www.ihlservices.com/product/debunking-the-retail-apocalypse/
If you don’t have an hour (and it’s not the most entertaining presentation), there is an important statistic worth mentioning – especially when it comes to fine jewelry. In 1970, the middle class represented 62%. In 2015, that number was 43%. So yes, the middle class is shrinking. Conversely, the upper class has grown from 26% to 49%. And, people with more disposable income love to shop.
Retail is not dead. There is no apocalypse. There is no end of traditional retail in sight. What has changed in the world of retail is how consumers prefer to shop; what they demand and look for prior to making a purchase; and the false notion if you build it they will come. Consumers want you to value their time. Thus, the increase in online shopping. In retail jewelry, it’s no longer an option to have a robust website with gorgeous pictures, pertinent information and pricing. They may not be buying fine jewelry in droves. But, they are browsing in droves. And, they will appreciate the option to purchase – whether they chose to take that option or not.
2018 Priority #1: A Great Website
Consumers today are also looking for a sense of community. They want to be a part of something. It’s exactly why online groups have exploded. People love to share; ask questions; provide tips and personal insights. For a local retailer, this should be easy to achieve. Make your store a place to gather. Hold interesting and fun events. Consider events your customers might enjoy, which might actually have nothing to do with selling jewelry. Interesting speakers on topics they want to hear about. Encourage customers to bring friends (people like to gather with their own groups). Some of our clients have hosted learning events from flower arranging to wine tasting. Others have hosted fashion shows with boutiques in their city and art shows featuring local artists. Collaborate with like vendors. Their customers are your customers and vise-versa. Collaboration is also a way to reduce your marketing expenses.
2018 Priority #2: Community In-Store Events
As an industry, we’ve seen the rise in custom design. People are looking for some level of personalization. Personalization can also go well beyond the bench. Train your staff to really know their customers. They should be making notes on what they love to purchase. Do they have an affinity for diamonds or love color? What do they like to drink? The more you can make shopping in your store a personal experience, the better. It’s what most people love about watching Netflix, as an example. Netflix will provide recommendations on movies and programming based on your previous viewing habits. Large online retailers do the same. Personalization can also be something as small as offering to engrave a message or initials in the piece they just purchased. For free.
2018 Priority # 3: Get Personal
Everyone talks about giving your customer a great experience. A great experience includes everything from sales associates who know everything and anything about fine jewelry to the music you play in the background, to what you offer to drink or eat. It’s about how you sell or, should I say, how you don’t “sell”. It’s about having interesting facts about products they can read in your cases or photos of celebrities who adorn the product. It’s about great follow-up. Surprising a customer with tickets to an event; sending flowers on a first anniversary. All of these things (and more) add up to what amounts to a great store experience. And, all of these things can be easily accomplished no matter how big or small your store may be.
2018 Priority #4: Make Shopping Great
It’s time to get excited. Retail is not dead. It is very much alive. Stop buying into the hype and make it better.
Want to make great marketing a priority in 2018? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.