Back in the day (ok, my day) things were different. Like most of the people I knew, by the time I was thirty, I had been married a few years, had a couple of kids, had a house, and was well on my way along my chosen career path.
Today’s millennials, as widely reported, and as seen on TV, are pretty much the opposite. Most of them are unmarried, many have moved back home, are still in school, or leisurely “finding” themselves. They are drowning in student loans, and if they are lucky, a car payment as well. A relationship and starting a family is not even on their priority list.
So, is it any wonder that this very sizable portion of the population has never been inside a jewelry store? They haven’t bought the engagement ring, wedding bands, and anniversary gifts that previous generations had already bought at their age. Admittedly these may be delayed purchases, but we can’t spend delayed sales receipts at our local sports bar, and delayed purchases don’t always materialize into actual sales. And, even if they were looking for a piece of jewelry, they are more comfortable buying on-line than walking into a jewelry store.
George Will said, “Be wary of the future, it has a way of sneaking up on you.” Today, the largest cab company in the country doesn’t own a single taxi. Yes, Uber has re-defined a nearly 100 year old business model. The largest lodging company in the country doesn’t own a single hotel room. Yet, every night, more people book an AirBnB room than a hotel room.
So, it may not be your fault that 20% of the population may have decided to forgo your products and services. But it is your problem. How you address this problem may determine your own future and successfulness. Billy Joel may love you “just the way you are,” but you are going to need a completely fresh approach to turn millennials into jewelry customers. Even if the first step is simply re-mounting Grandma’s diamonds, you are going to need something to get today’s millennials in your door.
And, that may require some new skill sets on your part. Whether its new marketing, social media, or CAD/CAM skills, The 24 Karat Club may have the scholarship funds you need to acquire the creative talents necessary to attract and work with this large demographic that up to now, has avoided going to the jewelry store. If you don’t know how to reach and talk to millennials, ask your favorite 24 Karat Club member to consider nominating you for a scholarship. You can find a list of 24 Karat Club members at www.The24KaratClub.org.
Funds are limited, and the process is competitive, but if you qualify and are awarded a scholarship, you could choose to use the funds for any number of courses that would help you reach this generation that seems to have forgotten about us.
So, while our millennial friends are busy finding themselves, take the time to re-create yourself. And hopefully, soon enough, they will be Tweeting, Snap-chatting, Tumblring, or Plurking about you. And, yes, Plurk is a real thing! We have a lot to learn!
Howard Kelrick is President of Finger Mate and a board member of The 24 Karat Club, SEUS. Finger Mate manufactures and installs expandable ring shanks and sells to retail jewelers throughout North America. Contact Howard at 954-458-2700 or e-mail Howard@FingerMate.com.