For jewelers launching their own brand, the digital age has put a new spin on standard marketing techniques.
“Technology has completely altered the landscape for jewelry retailers in the last 10 to 15 years,” says Ron Dylewski, a partner at Jewelry Marketing Consultants in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But creating and promoting a successful brand still includes many of the components of traditional marketing, he notes; it just has a technological twist.
The starting point for jewelers is to figure out whether developing an eponymous brand makes sense, particularly in the context of the lines they already carry — and if so, what their rationale for it is. “The only reason to create your own brand is to gain a competitive advantage,” says Valerie Naifeh, owner
of Naifeh Fine Jewelry in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “Everyone goes online to check brands, but having a brand that people can’t compare gives you an edge.”
She points to the bridal collection she launched, Private Label. “Customers come into the store expecting jewelry that is stylish, distinctive and high quality. Naifeh Private Label reflects what we are known for in our market.”
Naifeh credits a trusted manufacturer with providing services that made it “incredibly easy” to introduce the collection: laser-inscribing her logo onto the rings, developing a selling program and a producing a catalog. She encourages jewelers to work with suppliers they already know in order to expedite the process of creating their own brand.
Using “white label” services allows retailers to extend their offerings easily under their brand umbrella. Rapaport’s online trading platform, RapNet, for example, enables retailers to feature over $8 billion worth of diamonds in their own online stores via the RapNet Instant Inventory program.
Retailer Love & Co., in its Singapore and Malaysia stores, has also exploited such brand-extension opportunities by integrating Sarine Technologies’ digital platform into its inventory and communications systems, providing imaging and grading information about its diamonds directly to customers.
The social media machine
Furthermore, technology has dramatically changed how jewelers promote and leverage their products.
It’s important to utilize social media channels — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest — but with caveats.
“There is so much new technology out there that it can be daunting to figure out which is best,” says Naifeh. She favors Facebook and Instagram, which have worked best with her under-50 customers.
Dylewski believes social media can be highly effective in expanding a jeweler’s demographic reach, especially with millennials and other digital natives. However, he cautions, “jewelers can often be seduced by the number of likes and the number of people responding to their posts, and lulled into a false sense of the outreach they are getting.”
It’s the people who count
That said, he emphasizes that jewelers need adequate staff to provide backend maintenance, including updating product listings and uploading high-resolution photography.
He suggests that jewelers invest in a “really robust” customer relationship marketing (CRM) system to expedite follow-up with customers, in tandem with face-to-face communications.
Jewelers need a multifaceted marketing campaign that ensures a consistent message in everything relating to the brand.
Both technology and sales staff play a significant role in expanding brand awareness and driving sales.
“We have been successful because we understand how to brand ourselves,” says Naifeh. “We are the brand.”
CREATING AND CURATING:
VON BARGEN’S JEWELRY
“The Von Bargen’s brand is part of our
DNA,” says Julie Von Bargen Thom,
second-generation owner of Von Bargen’s Jewelry. Her father, John Von Bargen, created his company in Vermont as a maker of fine jewelry over 40 years ago.
“The brand is a critical part of who
we are and continue to be — a maker
of handmade fine and artisan jewelry.
We’re located in a progressive cultural
environment that supports locally made goods,” she explains.
The Von Bargen’s brand consists of pieces featuring hand-selected fine diamonds and colored gemstones, along with a new collection that launched in 2017, designed by Ali Dumont, the manager of their Burlington branch.
“Having our own brands really differentiates us from those stores that represent jewelers but do not create the jewelry,” says Von Bargen Thom.
“We aggressively promote the fact that we are a maker on our website and in social media.” She’s partial to Instagram for its visual impact.
In her opinion, jewelers who want to create their own brands should ask the same questions they would of a new designer partner: Does it satisfy a business need? Does it add sales that otherwise would not have been made? Does it compete with existing lines?
“We create and curate artisan jewelry,” she says. “They’re different categories that need to be complementary and tell the same story of quality and taste.”
Check out vonbargensjewelry.com
Image: Adobe stock