Friday, October 7, 2011

The Wealth of Selection, Not Accumulation

 Earth Gems Pendant, customers can pick their favorite gemstones

The great recession has changed a lot of things for the average American. One of the biggest is spending. Most American now spend less than they did prior to the recession, this is not new news. This is part of the recession, but is this actually true?

I went out for something to eat the other night after a trunk show. After spending 10 hours standing, setting up and talking to customers, you’re exhausted. I really didn’t want to try and find something to eat in my refrigerator. So my husband and I went to a local steak house that makes a good hamburger for dinner. The parking lot was packed. Both my husband and I agreed that we were having a hard time finding a recession at this place, and it was a Thursday night. One would think that on a Thursday night during a huge recession that the crowd would be thinner, not so.

So is the recession a lack of consumers or are retailers facing more cautious consumers? During the boom, I would go to Las Vegas regularly. These trips allowed me time to shop at the many malls that sprung up at large casinos. The shops at the mall included stores like Cartier, David Yurman, Fendi and Pandora. While we have a Tiffany’s locally, I did go in the Tiffany’s at the Bellagio to take a look. I was shocked at how many customers were purchasing. It seemed as if they were in a state of frenzy. High end stores were selling so much; they did not have enough staff to greet everyone who came through the doors. Customers were buying multiple pieces and sending staff into the back for more. I remember thinking “how can these people afford to buy so much, and why?” We all know what came next.

 Gabrielle Bruni Creations chocolate diamond necklace has a unique chain

This is the new reality for retailers, customers who are far more selective than before the recession. While there are customers who still make large purchases with abandon, many are more selective. The retail landscape has gone from accumulation to thoughtful selection. I hear many of my customers tell me that they make a purchase because it is either a gift or they have found something unique, or it’s a unique gift. Consumers are still spending but they are thinking about which jewelry pieces they are willing to buy prior to the purchase. There is more planning going into each purchase of a piece of jewelry. This is the new wealth, the wealth of selection not accumulation.

With consumers planning ahead and changing their spending habits to coincide with this new thoughtful selection, retailers need to make sure that their inventory is not only attractively priced, but attractive. I know that many of my pieces cannot be found in local mall jewelry stores and my customers like this exclusivity. Handmade pieces also appeal to this new thoughtful customers, hence the popularity of shopping sites like Esty. This is the era of the niche market and while it is still possible to make a living selling jewelry in bulk, sometimes it is better to provide customized service and selection that appeals to the discerning shopper. That is my particular niche. 

 Earth Gems Pendant with grape garnet gemstone, this pendant is customizable

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