Los Angeles, CA—“If you want to sell to Millennials, you have to go where they are,” says Brooke Brinkman, senior vice president of marketing and communications for Simon G. Millennials are predicted to spend $200 million in 2017, but as Brinkman points out, communicating and connecting with the audience has been very challenging for the jewelry industry.
Connecting with Millennials in their own space is one core element of the brand’s marketing strategy shift that began about two years ago. Part of the strategy has been a partnership with Create & Cultivate, the popular conference series for female Millennial entrepreneurs. Simon G.’s most recent collaboration with C&C was earlier this month, offered as part of the South By Southwest (SXSW) conference held in Austin, TX. SXSW offered a full day of programming, including tastemaker-studded panels, branded pop-up shops, and experiential activations. Keynote speakers included celebrities Kristen Bell and Brooklyn Decker, as well as a range of power influencers and bloggers. This year’s event drew more than 3,000 attendees, the event was a highly coveted ticket.
Simon G partners with C&C throughout the year, says Brinkman. The partnership, which began about a year and a half ago, has been very successful for Simon G., she says. “It has helped with brand awareness and really cultivating relationships with influencers and people who can push our messaging to the Millennial audience.”
“We are trying to connect in a way that’s natural with them, not forced, and meet them where they are,” she says. For Create & Cultivate SXSW, Simon G designed an interactive booth (above left) including an onsite henna artist, free jewelry cleaning, snacks, mimosas, and a photo booth with an “Instagrammable wall” as the backdrop. It showcased climbing vines and floral accents against the new Simon G logo, along with sparkling diamonds ready for trying on. The setting was designed for creating an Instagram-ready image or gif.
The Simon G booth display, above, and henna artist's work, below.
Simon G’s overall marketing strategy, however, seeks to bridge the gap between Boomers and Millennials. “You can’t take a hard shift away from the traditional audience, as Boomers still represent a significant part of the jewelry market, but they are aging out and we need to reach the next generation. We need to be speaking to both audiences,” Brinkman says.
This includes traditional advertising media that Boomers respond to and that jewelers built their businesses on, but also working with traditional outlets in a unique and more modern way. “Instead of just running pages and putting up a branded ad, we’re also looking for opportunities for multiple touchpoints in the publications,” Brinkman says. For example, Harper’s Bazaar is doing its very first bridal content in its June/July issue. It will be a 12-page insert and Simon G has partnered with the magazine to make sure all the jewelry featured in the section is Simon G., including not only traditional bridal sets but also gift ideas for the bridal party and wedding-day fashion jewelry. It’s traditional advertising (which draws Boomers) but done with a more editorial perspective, she says, so Millennials that like Harpers’ fashion directive can use their expertise to plan their wedding.
Social media is the brand’s key focus for Millennials, and within that, its strategy is to target influencers.
“Millennials feel like it’s their friend telling them about things, not someone so far above that they can’t access what they’re saying. Influencers are very effective at mixing price points together: a $10 blouse, a $2000 ring, and $50 shoes. They can pull all these things together and really create a look—and make it much more accessible. Having our brand come through—but not just our voice—allows these influencers who feel like your best friend telling you what’s the cool thing to do and have.” Simon G goes so far as to bring the influencers in person to events in retail stores and out in markets where they have a strong presence.
“It allows us to feel a little cooler, more acceptable.” says Brinkman.
The brand has changed its ad creative to capture this ideal. Ads have an Instagram type feel, with objects surrounding piece of jewelry, and taglines like, “Your Life, Your Style," and "Your Wedding, Your Style."
“It’s been interesting getting out into the market and meeting these people. We hear, ‘Oh, there’s fine jewelry here!’ They wouldn’t have thought about it before, but now they are thinking twice before buying that $3000 bag.” Consumers at these events often are floored when they discover the price of the jewelry they like is something they can afford and isn’t anywhere near as high as they think it would be—but they’re too intimidated to go into a jewelry store and ask.
“A lot of times they’re very surprised in a good way,” Brinkman says.