PGI Annual Business Review Shows Accelerated Tectonic Shifts In Industry
Hong Kong—As the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the world, businesses globally in every sector are searching for future trends and strategies to succeed in a post-COVID-19 world. For platinum jewelry, the drivers of business growth in 2019 were thrown into even bolder relief by the pandemic, and point the way to a post-COVID-19 recovery, according to Platinum Guild International’s 2020 Platinum Jewellery Business Review. The key focus is on three market trends: digital consolidation, mid-market extinction, and branded storytelling. The traditional in-person presentation of the PJBR was cancelled due to the pandemic but the entire presentation is available on video here.
The 2020 PJBR surveyed more than 1,000 manufacturers and retailers, in addition to over 4,000 consumers, to provide the world’s most comprehensive and in-depth analysis of platinum jewelry’s performance in 2019, and COVID-19’s impact on consumers’ minds and wallets in each of the four key platinum jewelry markets: Japan, China, the United States, and India.
PGI’s global CEO Huw Daniel explains, “The initiatives that grew the platinum jewelry business in 2019 tapped into tectonic shifts that will only be accelerated by COVID-19. We now see this playing out in real time. Social distancing has led to an upsurge in digital shopping, but digitalization works best when woven into a seamless strategy to engage consumers across multiple touchpoints. Jewelry, a category still too generic in its approach, needs more products focusing on consumers’ unmet needs, that create strong and differentiating brand stories. And it’s time for the jewelry industry to get off the fence and stake a territory far from the middle.”
Digital Consolidation. Digital is no longer a straight line, but a key element in any omni-channel experience. Brands need to be agile in consolidating how consumers shop to convert consumer engagement into purchase in a socially distanced world. In 2019, a number of PGI programs managed to seamlessly connect the dots on the consumer journey.
The Platinum Born fashion jewelry brand was launched in the United States--exclusively distributed by Suna Bros.--to meet an unmet need for luxurious yet accessible everyday jewelry for self-purchase. The brand went online in 2019, leveraging strategic digital marketing, social media, and celebrity endorsement, to take platinum jewelry beyond platinum’s traditional stronghold in bridal, diamonds and high-end jewelry stores. Platinum Born expanded influencer programs and analyzed online consumer purchasing behavior to accelerate conversion. Such efforts, combined with expansion in sales channels, including Saks Fifth Avenue’s online platform, drove a 64% year-on-year growth in units and 39% year-on-year in value in 2019.
Branding and Storytelling. In 2019, consumers in key markets showed greatest interest and affinity for platinum jewelry presented in branded collections launched by PGI, such as Hello Me, Platinum (Japan) and Men of Platinum (India). A majority of consumers surveyed express their willingness to spend either more or the same amount on precious jewelry than before the pandemic hit, once things return to normal. Strong brands that tell a compelling story will lead the way to recovery. For instance, in India, 2019 saw the launch of Men of Platinum, a branded collection capturing the needs of a new generation of young and affluent male consumers seeking a more contemporary expression of their personal success and value. In the early phase of the campaign, participating retailers reported an 82% year-on-year sales growth during the campaign period. Also in India, PGI’s Season of Love program drives conversion to branded platinum within a sea of generic low margin jewelry. The program has a multi-pronged strategy that drives traffic to stores, creates up-sell opportunities and rewards high performing stores and sales staff through a sales-linked award program. The collection creates an aspirational positioning for platinum, targeting young couples seeking a more progressive approach to their relationships. It delivered 40% growth in 2019 and will be a cornerstone of PGI India’s business recovery plans after the lockdown is lifted.
Old money. Few if any, jewelry brands explicitly target mature consumers. Yet in Japan, the 60-year and older age group is a heavy jewelry buying demographic, who also own 60% of the country’s private assets, a majority held in liquid assets. PGI launched Hello Me, Platinum, a collection of platinum jewelry created to showcase the beauty of platinum for sophisticated women with discerning taste. The branded collection celebrates the discovery of a new self in later life and how that life can be lived richly. Now available in 63 stores across Japan, the collection contributed to a 3.5% year-on- year ounce growth for non-bridal platinum jewelry.
Mid-market extinction. Finding and owning the right territory with the right business model is becoming a necessity, especially in a world that has become more competitive overnight. As traffic to stores has declined, driving higher-margin sales has become an even greater priority for jewelers. PGI has long sought to deliver high-margin product to retailers and also show in real terms how platinum jewelry boosts the bottom line.
Consumers re-evaluating priorities. The global pandemic has disrupted jewelry business globally, but it also provides opportunities. In platinum’s four key markets, the majority of consumers surveyed are re-evaluating their priorities in life and show their willingness to spend the same or more on jewelry than pre-COVID-19, either to feel good about themselves or to express appreciation for their loved ones after this challenging time. Jewelers who are prepared to meet that need will benefit, says PGI, and platinum, strongly associated with love and meaning, will be an integral part of that message.
Plumb Club To Host Roundtable Around Reopening Strategies
New York, NY—You’re Reopening: Make it Safe/Make the Sale is the title of a new Plumb Club webinar designed to help retail jewelers manage the “new normal” in store when reopening after the COVID-19 lockdowns. The webinar will be held Wednesday, May 27, at 2:00 p.m. EDT.
As retailers reopen, they face many new unforeseen liabilities and challenges in the “new normal.” This webinar will highlight the issues they will face as they get their businesses back on track while still dealing with the COVID-19 situation. The Plumb Club has assembled an expert panel of leaders from the legal, cleaning and sanitizing, and sales strategies areas. Each will provide a 15-minute presentation and then attendees will be able to ask questions in real-time. The webinar will be moderated by Lawrence Hess, executive director of The Plumb Club, and will include the following renowned experts:
Tiffany Stevens, CEO and general counsel, JVC will address how, as you reopen now, you can protect yourself from long-term liability later. She will discuss possible liabilities surrounding HR/employment lawsuits, policies and communications with team and customers, as well as how to decide when to reopen, or perhaps even reclose. Further, she will discuss long-term liability in the digital space and legal issues that come along with selling online.
Kristie Nicolosi, president and CEO of The Kingswood Company, will cover a number of topics regarding jewelry cleaning and hygiene relevant to both in-store best practices and customer communications in this new world of hyper-clean hand hygiene. In particular, she will give highlights on the differences between cleaning and disinfecting, how soap works, how to talk to your customers online about care and cleaning both today and tomorrow, and why jewelry care should be included in every transaction in the new selling environment.
Kate Peterson, founder and president, Performance Concepts, will speak on the expected consumer behavior shifts stores will see and how both an effective selling process and the quality relationships that have been instrumental to many businesses can be handled from an approachable distance. She will provide strategies for re-engaging existing clients and engaging new ones—including strategies for those with stores in tourist areas.
Kate Peterson, Kristi Nicolosi, Tiffany Stevens.
“As we rapidly move into the next and newest phase of this pandemic, there is a lot to consider,” explains Michael Lerche, Plumb Club president. “There has not been a precedent set for what we are facing as an industry. Stores have already opened, or are about to reopen, and many guidelines are still hazy. Meanwhile, we need to move forward with our eyes open, being cautious of the issues that this ‘new normal’ will bring. We hope that our webinar will be able to provide some clarity on what to expect and consider as we move forward.”
Ann Arnold Appointed Chairman of The Jewelers Board of Trade
Warwick, RI—The Jewelers Board of Trade (JBT), the industry’s not-for-profit leader in credit reporting and collections services, has tapped Ann Arnold, CSO of Buyers International Group, as chairman of its board of directors during its April 30 board meeting.
Arnold has volunteered with JBT for close to 12 years, has served on the board as vice chairman, and now brings her expertise and vast experience to the role of chairman. She Mike Kaplan, president of Rocket Jewelry Box, whose term ended.
“I am thrilled to serve at the helm of this board. JBT is uniquely qualified to help companies from all aspects of the jewelry industry to better understand their customers and suppliers,” says Arnold. “It is an honor to work alongside some of the brightest and most devoted individuals in the industry.”
“It is critical to our growth that we continuously execute on the right strategies.” says JBT president Erich Jacobs. “Ann brings a wealth of nonprofit and for-profit success and strategic vision to our organization, which will be critical in our ability to scale and meet the growing demand for industry transparency.”
Arnold has an extensive pedigree in the industry’s various organizations. She has served in governing roles as chairman and treasurer of the Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America; as treasurer of the 24 Karat Club of the City of New York; as president of the Women’s Jewelry Association Foundation and as president, treasurer and Finance and Investment Committee member of the Women’s Jewelry Association.
Also at the meeting, JBT welcomed two new board members for a two-year term: Teresa Frye, owner and president, Techform Advanced Casting Tech., L.L.C, Portland, OR, and Andrew Rickard, vice president operations, Rochester Diamonds and Gold, Inc., Rochester, NY.
Jeffery Corey of H. E. Murdock Company Inc. was appointed to the Executive Committee.
Re-elected to the board for a period of two years are, in addition to Arnold, were Ira Bergman, The Gordon Company, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL; Edward N. DeCristofaro, LDC, Inc., E. Providence, RI; Keven Peck, Color Merchants, Inc., New York, NY; and Nilesh Sheth, Forever Collections, Inc., Los Angeles, CA.
Elected to the Advisory Board for two years were Richard Weisenfeld and Todd Wollemann. Phyllis Bergman was re-elected to the Advisory Board for two years.
Continuing their terms on the board are Matthijs Braakman, Retail Management Publishing, Inc.; Tim Coggins, Bank Rhode Island; Jeffery Corey, H. E. Murdock Company; Brian D. Fleming, Carla Corp.; Michael Kaplan, Rocket Jewelry Box, Inc.; Richard Katz, Richline Group, Inc.; Michael Pelto, Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company; and Pinny Rubin, Quality Gold Inc.
Christie’s To Auction Mega-Stone Online
New York, NY—Christie’s is set to auction off a 28.86-carat emerald cut diamond next month during its Jewels Online sale, June 16-30. Although not flawless (it’s a VVS1), the D-color Type IIA stone will be largest D-color diamond ever offered online. It’s expected to fetch between one and two million dollars.
Like every other business, the major auction houses have had to adapt during the coronavirus pandemic. But that highlights new opportunities, says Christie’s jewelry head Rahul Kadakia. He says the value threshold online has been climbing year-on-year, even apart from the virus situation. Christie’s online jewelry sale in April boasted 99% more new visitors than in April 2019, and a 39% increase in new online buyers. For more information, click here.