Launching and getting behind industry-wide campaigns has been the mainstay of trade press for as long as trade press has existed.
The title is self-explanatory, as is the premise. But, I hope you will all indulge me while I endeavour to explain the thinking behind it and, indeed, our first call to action, which I hope will prompt as many of you as possible will get involved.
You may recall, towards the end of last year, an article we published about the work of the Booksellers Association, in which we looked at the ways in which the association joined forces with its members to engage the end-consumer and make sure that the bookshop still appealed to customers as a destination, even in these days of the e-reader and discount online sellers.
Through initiatives such as Books Are My Bag, Independent Bookshop Week and World Book Day, the Booksellers Association succeeded in raising the profile of booksellers with consumers, and this inevitably got me thinking about how the jewellery industry could do the same.
Clearly, Retail Jeweller does not profess to have all the answers in this regard. However, the role of a trade magazine is, first and foremost, to aid its readers in doing business better, and one sure-fire way of doing that is to ensure more jewellery and watches are being sold to the end-consumer.
Put simply, if more consumers are aware of, and purchase, jewellery as a category, then everyone throughout the supply chain benefits.
Long gone are the days of De Beers’ huge advertising budgets which, arguably, aided everyone in selling more jewellery. Even the branded powerhouses like Pandora don’t seem to be making the same inroads with their global ad spend as they were a few years ago.
So, it now falls to us, the industry, as a collective, to join forces and give some serious thought to the ways in which, as a trade, we promote what we do to those outside our sector.
We are excellent at extolling our virtues and all that we do well to others who work in this industry, but we seem to fail spectacularly when it comes to getting our message out to those beyond our, still relatively small, trade.
As a starting point for this campaign, we commissioned a small survey of just over 300 millennial consumers, to get a reading on their views and attitudes towards spending on jewellery and, as I am sure you will agree, the results, while not wholly surprising, are disappointing for those of us involved in the sale of jewellery.
Now feels like the right time to kick off such a campaign. Not only is it the start of the year, but business and the high street is tough and, if we don’t do something collectively soon, it could be too late for many of the wonderful businesses in our sector that have existed for hundreds of years.
There is also, fortunately for us, a move towards all things craft and artisan at the moment – be that gin, coffee, beer or even experiences – and with the jewellery industry’s focus on bespoke, handcrafted, artisan products, backed up by an extremely healthy independent retail sector, we have all the tools at our disposal to engage with the consumer. We just need to work out how we capture them.
So, this is my plea to everyone in this trade in the UK – be that trade associations, buying groups, trade show organisers, large manufacturers, small designer-makers, retail chains, independent retailers, educational institutions, Assay Offices or marketing and PR agencies: pledge your support for this campaign, volunteer a representative/representatives from your business and let’s start this very long-overdue conversation, as a collective, about what we need to do next.
Retail Jeweller is the voice to alert you all to this, but we need all of you to agree to come together and make something happen.
Let’s call the findings on the following pages a wake-up call or a starting point to galvanise the industry into action, and I hope as many of you as possible will join us on this journey.
To pledge your support for Capturing the Consumer, drop me an email with an expression of interest and, in the meantime, if you do anything particularly noteworthy in your business that you think the end-consumer would like to know about, please use our #CapturingTheConsumer hashtag on social media.
Individually we can’t change the way people perceive our industry; collectively we can.
Ruth Faulkner, Editor