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How Are You Marketing To Millennials?

By Phyllis Schiller
Gabriel & Co.
The 4Cs are not the only things that make a piece of diamond jewelry a sales winner. In an ongoing series, Rapaport Magazine explores the “3Ws” — what’s selling, what’s not and why — by going straight to the people who really know — jewelry retailers. Each month, we ask a sampling of retailers to comment on the important issues that are facing the industry today. Here is what they had to say when asked: “What strategies are you using to bring in Millennial customers? What types of shoppers are they?”

BEN BOWNE, GIA DIAMOND EXPERT
KUHN’S JEWELERS
SALISBURY, MARYLAND
   “We’ve been around so long that we are very lucky to have a multigenerational business. So a large portion of our Millennial customers are coming in because their great-grandparents or grandparents or parents, sometimes all of them, got their engagement ring or other important occasion keepsakes here. We’re also not in an urban area that has a constant influx of Millennials. As for directly targeting Millennials, we are not super aggressive. We have a pretty solid following on our social media channels. Right now we do Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.
   “Millennials do want to have a lot of say in the design of their ring. Maybe 10 percent ask for custom work, which we do. There are several sites that you can go on and build your own ring and I think that’s cool. I don’t have any resistance to that but I just don’t have pockets deep enough right now to offer that same interactive experience. It’s an interesting time for retail because we’re navigating unchartered territory and it’s really challenging figuring out what we will never abandon and what we need to do away with because it has no use anymore in the way we do business.”

LEEANN KINDNESS, MARKETING DIRECTOR
STEVEN SINGER JEWELERS
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
   “By default, Millennials are becoming more of our target consumer because we concentrate on engagement ring sales. If we can get to them as they approach engagement-ring age that’s key to growing our business. So we do social media. We do a lot of digital radio, including Pandora® Internet Radio and Spotify. We are pretty heavy in Facebook, where we do get a good return. Instagram is really great for us and Pinterest. And we do some Twitter as well. With social media, it’s more starting a conversation with the customer, posting lifestyle pictures that incorporate our products, asking questions, celebrating customers’ engagements and special events.”

JOHN HAYES, OWNER
GOODMAN’S JEWELERS
MADISON, WISCONSIN
   “We work specifically with our digital side of the marketing to try to reach them — through Facebook and Twitter. We try to keep our website always changing and we measure the key word reactions and click-throughs that address how they shop.
   “Millennials will research things two to three months before they even step into the store. They will oftentimes come in with a lot of predetermined information about what they want. The guys will show us what is on her Pinterest page. It’s good; it helps us help them get the right ring. They definitely have a lot more product knowledge than customers 30 years ago. It’s available and they take the time to see what’s out there and compare styles. We make sure we have links on our website to all our different suppliers so they can explore. They do have buying power, depending where they are at. If he’s in medical school or postgraduate studies, generally the couple is going to get a little smaller stone but maintain quality. If they’re already out and working, they often will spend $5,000 or $6,000 to get an engagement ring. It’s a pretty significant purchase.”

SARA WORTMAN, SALES MANAGER
STEVE QUICK JEWELER
LINCOLN PARK, ILLINOIS
   “In Chicago, having three stores, we constantly have to reevaluate our advertising. Currently, rather than print, we’re doing more digital billboard advertising. I think that ties in with Millennials because everything is technology, everything is accessible online and in your face all the time. We also keep up-to-date on the various trends and how that influences buying decisions. We have Instagram and Facebook pages and take advantage of social media. The rest of our advertising budget usually goes to commercials during sporting events, which ties in with social media and Millennials as well. We have found that the female is very involved in buying the ring and I think that is a Millennial thing.”

LULU WU, SALES ASSOCIATE
CHRISTENSEN & RAFFERTY FINE JEWELRY
SAN MATEO, CALIFORNIA
   “Yelp has been one of the major ways we’re reaching Millennials. Our main social media is doing Facebook posts, about new arrivals and community activities; we have a pretty large viewership between the ages of 25 to 34.
   “While Millennials do a lot of research online, for many, when they walk in the store, it’s usually their first experience with fine jewelry. They’re curious; they have questions. They will show us pictures from Pinterest or websites or photos of what they like.”

JOE ASHCRAFT, OWNER
ASHCRAFT JEWELERS
MUNCIE, INDIANA
   “We do a little Facebook about new products. We advertise at the university and in a local magazine. Basically, most of the advertising is directed toward engagement and wedding sets. Most of our Millennial customers are still willing to go for quality rather than size and spend a little more for what they like. They go online and look at diamond prices and come in with pictures of designs on their phones and prices from online diamond sites. They do a lot of preshopping, which I like, so we can point them in the right direction.”

SEAN TRACY, OWNER
TRACY JEWELERS
SPOKANE VALLEY, WASHINGTON
   “We do Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. With the prices of gold and diamonds going up the past few years, it hasn’t fazed the Millennials that much. It is what it is and they’ve done their homework before they come in. There’s a man-made diamond out there that we are considering that isn’t harming the environment, which is a factor Millennials are looking for.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - May 2016. To subscribe click here.

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