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Editorial: Meet The Midults, A Demographic That Means Business For Jewelers |  August 24, 2016 (0 comments)

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Merrick, NY—Jewelers who have followed my various editorials over the years know I’m a firm believer in the opportunities presented by the female self-purchase customer. But the very nature of marketing jewelry as a gift of love creates a dichotomy that both jewelers and consumers sometimes struggle to get beyond.

Over the years, more than a few out-of-the-industry business experts—such as business guru Tom Peters and Blue Ocean Strategy authors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne—have said the same thing and wondered why, when women wear more than 90% of our industry’s total production, we don’t spend far more time and money marketing directly to them and selling jewelry the way the rest of the fashion industry sells accessories.

Not that I’m suggesting we stop marketing jewelry as a gift of love. Perish the thought! But I’ve always believed that by not putting greater emphasis on also marketing jewelry as a fine fashion accessory, we’ve left a lot of extra money on the table that we didn’t have to give up. It’s money that could have been ours over the years, but instead was spent on designer handbags, shoes, sunglasses and, later, electronics. Not to mention that lots of women—probably uncomfortably more than we realize—ask for bags, shoes, accessories, and electronics as gifts. And for women who aren’t in a committed relationship, the emphasis on marketing jewelry predominantly as a gift leaves them out instead of welcoming their dollars in.

A new line of white sapphire pinky rings does just that. The rings, from Los Angeles-based jewelry brand Fred + Far, feature 1.5-carat conflict-free white sapphires set in sterling silver or yellow, rose, or white gold. According to this article on Dose.com and this in Self magazine, the rings, billed as “anti-engagement rings,” remind women to love and care for themselves every day, whether it’s taking a morning walk or getting enough exercise or stopping for a much-needed coffee break.

Fred + Far's white sapphire pinky rings are geared to female self-purchase customers.

Now that the diamond and jewelry industry is struggling to understand and remain relevant to Millennials, it’s also a good time to refocus on the affluent female fashion consumer—a slightly older female fashion consumer, that is.

Once again, I’m not alone in my view. A recent article on WGSN, a UK-based fashion business website, says luxury brands in particular should really sit up and focus on female consumers 35-55, a demographic that’s been dubbed “midult.”

The Midult demographic spans parts or all of three generational cohorts: leading-edge Millennials (age 33-35) on its younger end, Gen-X comprising the majority of Midults, and tail-end Boomers in their early 50s on the older end of the Midult spectrum. It doesn’t hurt that many of these women also are mothers to Gen-Z, who are now in their teens edging into early 20s. Having an example to follow of a woman who buys a lot of jewelry is a good thing!

Before it had a name, I often wrote and lectured about this demographic at industry events. Midult women often feel overlooked or ignored by the apparel industry. We now have a name to describe us, but we’re still having trouble getting dressed. Why? After reaching the point in life where we’ve attained the affluence to afford designer clothes, we often find they’re no longer appropriate for lifestyle, body, or both.

Case in point: British luxury brand Burberry shifted its focus from well-cut classics to a more youthful, edgy vibe. The brand is getting lots of buzz, but its profits fell 7% last year. When the primary consumer a brand is targeting can only afford to “like” it, but not buy it, it’s time to reconsider the target. Buzz doesn’t necessarily translate to business.

Buzz is important among the right customer. Midults are digitally literate, successful, influential women who have money to spend. They don’t want to wear matronly styles, but they also don’t want to dress like a teenager. Or even like their teenage selves. Take, for instance, the current revival of 1970s styles: 20-somethings find it hip and cool, but their mothers see a time machine back to high school. #TBT is fun on Facebook, not in the closet.

So where does that leave the Midult woman who needs to get dressed every day? It leaves her with many opportunities to buy more of the same things she already owns. Yawn.

Or it leaves her the option to change it up with lots of accessories—and, if we play our cards right, lots of jewelry.

So who are the Midults? According to WGSN, they are:

They’re there. But they won’t know you’re there for them unless you make a specific effort to remind them that you’re about more than wish lists and holidays when you’re pitching their spouses to buy a gift of love. Remind them that jewelry is a part of getting dressed every day, just like any other accessory, and insert yourself into her fashion conversation all year long.

Top image: balancedbodymd.com

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