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Customization and the millennial customer

Two retailers weigh in on personalized pieces’ appeal to this generation.

By Phyllis Schiller


SUSAN PURNELL
OWNER
KUHN’S JEWELERS
SALISBURY, MARYLAND

“I think that everybody likes to tweak things a little bit. But customization usually costs a jeweler a lot more money than finding something on the shelf for their customers. I have a very large inventory, so usually, when engagement-ring customers come into the store and show me a picture of a ring and say, ‘This is sort of what she likes,’ I can find something in our inventory for them without going to the expense of customization.

“This issue does not tend to come up with our customers with regard to regular jewelry. Obviously, mass customization is popular, in that Pandora is popular. But I never got into that simply because I didn’t like the look of the product.

“In terms of engagement rings, there are a lot of ways that you can change the look to customize it for customers. If they don’t like the prongs of the ring, for instance, or the kind of head, there is a lot you can do. But I don’t have people coming in the store and saying, ‘I want a 2-millimeter shank with such and such details.’… I’m not seeing that kind of thing.

“In terms of attracting millennials, we do social-media marketing — for sure. I have found that to be pretty effective. We do all kinds of things. We do contests and share new things that we have and share things that we’re doing, sale information. We pay for ads. Just about everything you can think of doing, we do.”



JOHN CARTER
PRESIDENT
JACK LEWIS JEWELERS
BLOOMINGTON, ILLINOIS

“I would say that millennials are about the experience, and nothing gives you quite the same tailored experience as customization does. Everything is done via CAD/CAM [software] so they can see what’s going on. That seems to be a big part of it — they want to view the process, be a part of the process. So we have stations where customers can sit down and work with our designers, and they can see as the changes are being made.

“However, in terms of describing and grouping millennials as an individual generation, we’re nearly at the point that that is almost done.

“The statistic I read recently is that millennials, because of where the cutoff is, are now around 35 years old. So we’re spending all this time and energy dissecting a group of young individuals who are fully grown people who have already delved into their careers. And yes, they still have the things that make them tick, but they have also matured as a generation, the same way our generation did. I don’t necessarily think about them as an individual generation anymore.

“What I can say is that the way the jewelry-buying consumer has changed is that people are all about the experience now — millennials as well as other generations — and they are used to having that in everything that they do. So yes, custom is a brilliant way to give them that, because it allows them to tailor the experience to match whatever their expectations are.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - June 2018. To subscribe click here.

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