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Here Come the Brides…or Not

by Angie Ash, Executive Vice President

Owning Bridal. Many jewelers want to claim it in their market. And, yes, every jeweler should desire to have a certain percentage of the bridal business. After all, it’s usually the first major jewelry purchase in a couple’s lives together, and a starting point for a jeweler to build future business. However, just because you have many friends in the jewelry business with a burgeoning business in bridal doesn’t mean it will equate to the same for yours.

It is not the same scenario from store to store. There are MANY things that impact the amount of bridal business that will potentially come to your store.

Checkpoint 1: Competitive analysis. Who are you up against for bridal business? What differentiates a competitor’s bridal business from yours?  Do they have the same brands as your store? That’s strike one. You’re competing for the same dollars right away and sometimes convenience and location trumps store experience, especially for the busy bridal customer who may have never set foot in your store before. Why would they go across town to look at the same rings they can find in the store in their own neighborhood? Would you? What about the competition’s website? If they’re showing pricing and product as a way for potential brides and grooms to pre-shop — and you’re not, they have the edge over you as well. Their financing? This first large purchase makes many couples anxious. Check into what the competition is offering. Can you at least offer the same — or even better?

Checkpoint 2: Your marketing budget. If you’re a $2 million sales volume store, do you honestly believe you’re going to garner the same amount of media exposure, press coverage, and buzz with your bridal event as a friend in the business with triple your sales volume in a cheaper media market with three times the marketing budget? No, you won’t. You can’t buy as much with your dollars. You’ll have to plan lean, smart and efficient with your dollars, doing more with less. This isn’t to say you can’t have a successful event based on your concerted efforts, but it’s just not realistic to think you can expect what others glean.

Checkpoint 3: Don’t ignore the research. We all know today’s brides are driven more by the style of a ring than the brand. Unlike a Vuitton or Chanel bag, both easily identified brands you can see dangling on arms from a distance, it’s not so with engagement rings. Brides just want to wear a ring that fits their style preference and will be something they’ll wear for years, if not a lifetime, whether that be simple and classic or ornate and feminine. The most important thing you can do in the bridal business is to make sure you have a wide assortment of styles available in many price points, and buy with this in mind. At the end of the day, if you’re making a bridal customer happy because they’ve found just what they’ve been looking for at a price within their budget, you’re in a better place than being out lots of cash to carry a certain brand in your store. When you don’t make the sale, do your follow-up. Send out a card or electronic survey asking why so you can learn to be better. Ask for referrals from the couples who do buy from you. Chances are they have friends who may be in the same place in their relationship. That’s low hanging fruit you can easily pick.

Checkpoint 4: Your current marketing tactics. Even though the bridal customer’s average age today is 28, many are not in a place to have their own home yet. Direct mail will be costly and difficult to pin down, not to mention the risk of spoiling a surprise in higher if a couple lives together. There are now countless options for radio and television, way beyond the broadcast and cable days of yore. You have to find other ways to be aggressive. This group is online all the time so it’s important to invest in your website. You also need to be thinking of digital ways, like YouTube advertising, to get in front of this customer where they’re spending their time. Ask for opinions on ring style posts on Facebook. Learn to use and love Instagram and all its hashtags. Ask your happy bridal customers to be part of your campaign to give a local and “real” face to your bridal business.

Put these steps in place, form a plan of attack and revisit it often. And, be patient. Investing in growing your bridal business takes time and diligence. Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you want to get serious about bridal, you need to first take the vow to set smart and achievable goals, stretch a little out of your comfort zone, and learn a lot from the bridal customers you have now.

Do you need to sharpen up your bridal marketing skills? Contact suits@fruchtman.com to get on the right track.

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