Can Anthropology Help Jewelers Trying To Reach Millennials?

Yes, the times they are a-changin’, faster and faster it seems, leaving no market sector unscathed. The jewelry industry in particular is being hit especially hard. To help jewelers find ways to adapt to the massive cultural shifts that are threatening their businesses, we at Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC) met with a large group of retailers from across the U.S. to discuss strategy. Our advice to them for how best to reach Millennials, their target market, is detailed in an article I wrote for MediaPost, which you can read here.

The market has changed substantially but sadly, many jewelers have not

What jumped out at us during our strategy sessions was how tied to the past jewelers tend to be, and therefore how difficult it is going to be for them to re-think the way they approach jewelry purchases. As an example, for generations they have built their business around weddings, with a major focus on diamond engagement rings and couples “tying the knot.” These days, that is really risky because Millennials are not getting married at nearly the rate their parents did.  

Four major Millennial trends that demand a shift in jewelers’ business growth strategies   

In the way they approach love, marriage and diamond purchases, Millennials (no surprise) are doing it their way. There is just a major culture change taking place. Therefore, here are 4 trends that these retailers need to pay attention to if they want to turn this “my way” generation into customers:

1. Weddings and marriage are not occurring as they did in the past. Instead, Millennials are living together. Or living with friends in shared space. 

2. Millennials are shopping online. To survive, retailers must shift their sales methods to take advantage.

3. Student loan debt is seriously hobbling expenditures on fine jewelry sales. Student loans have nearly quadrupled since 2004, to just under $1.2 trillion, seriously cutting into Millennials’ spending.

4. Branded products are growing faster than expected. Young consumers are wearing branded jewelry instead of heirlooms or estate jewelry. 

What can help open new markets and reach today’s buyers? 

As I explain in my article, to capitalize on new opportunities and untapped markets, jewelers could greatly benefit from a “little anthropology.” What they “see and feel” through personal observation can help them better “think” about how to be the solution their potential customers are looking for.

To help jewelers successfully navigate (and make money in) the future, we have 3 important guidelines: 

1. Listen to what your customers are asking for. What interests them? There might be a huge market waiting for you. 

2. Change your target audience. Is there a market in “friendship” jewelry? Or maybe in older consumers who want to commemorate a long-lasting marriage with a special diamond?

3. Ask your customers for stories. Hearing what role jewelry plays in their lives can enable you to offer them what they’re prepared to buy.  

Ready to give “a little anthropology” a try? 

At SAMC, we use the tools and methods of anthropology to help organizations see their businesses with fresh eyes and then adjust their company culture so they can grow and thrive in changing times. Often clients realize that if they want to change they need a crisis or they need to create one. You can read more about our approach to help them avoid that crisis before it happens. (Read more on our website here.)

Contact us for a free consultation. We’d love to talk with you.

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From Observation to Innovation

Andi Simon
Corporate Anthropologist | President
Simon Associates Management Consultants