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For Love or Money?

By Angie Ash, Executive Vice President

We’re wrapping up our client planning calls and, as always, we’ve had some truly interesting conversations with our retail jewelers. This year, a lot of chatter was on the topic of lab-grown diamonds. Just a few years ago, LGDs were the new kids on the block at JCK at the Pure Grown booth. They got plenty of attention then as one of the only brands representing at the time, but this year the lab-grown diamond section at the show truly exploded, with over 70 brands represented, several already well known in the industry.

As a retailer, you most likely started noticing the uptick in customers coming into your store and asking for LGDs. And if you haven’t yet, you will as the market continues to be flooded with them. 

We live in a world where our parents (or grandparents, depending on your age) lived in the same house forever and likely drove the same car until it died. But we need to remember that times have changed and so have buying habits. People are used to leasing a car and not keeping it when the lease is over. They just lease a newer model and many times, a different make and model. Why commit? The latest phone? Same thing. It’s not so different with today’s engagement ring customer and their diamond.

‘A diamond is forever’ is also a saying that doesn’t ring true for many today, as one in two couples who marry will later divorce. The notion that your diamond engagement ring should cost two months’ salary? Ha! Doesn’t resonate at all with the bridal demographic today. Does this mean a potential bride doesn’t want a really nice ring? Absolutely not. In fact, many of our retailers will tell you their customers will come in, often as a couple shopping together, looking for a two-carat or larger stone minimum, but at a set budget that makes an LGD very attractive and an earth-mined diamond not so much. When that same LGD has the same grading quality as the earth mined diamond, and at a fraction of the cost, it’s practically a no-brainer for the customer. Vanity wins most of the time.

And what of resale value? One of our clients said that a good percentage of their customers don’t seem to think it’s such a big deal. They’ll pay $5,000 for a really beautiful LGD ring, and if they decide later on to go with something different, they’ll consider their LGD to be the equivalent of the latest large screen smart TV; something to love now and to curb in the not-so-distant future. 

Cause for worry? For part of the prospective customer base, perhaps. But it’s more about acknowledging diversity in your customers and embracing it. The truly wealthy without cost concerns will continue to want that luxury purchase and shopping experience to match. And it’s up to you to deliver it. There’s never been a better time to clientele like crazy and dive into your customer data. 

And yet, there’s also never been a better time to know your bridal customers and meet them where they are now without stigma and judgment. Give them the diamond education so they know the facts, give them the options that fit their budget, and give them the ring that will make her feel like a million bucks regardless of the purchase price at POS. That’s how you truly win bridal today. 

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