Among the many contributions of ancient Greek philosophers at the dawn of civilization, surely the field of “Logic” belongs near the top of the list. Logic wasn’t just foundational to mathematics and geometry; it was also axiomatic for the formulation of most theories of critical thought. The classic “logical” thought process began with the statement of a hypothesis, and ended with a re-statement of that hypothesis, such that the arguments in the body of the ‘proof’ led inevitably to the conclusion that the hypothesis had been proven. When the Greek language gave way to Latin as the philosophers’ lingua franca in the second century BC, it became customary to place the letters “Q.E.D.”, short for “Quod Erat Demonstrandum” (meaning “thus it has been demonstrated”), at the end of a successful proof.
I am reminded of this process of logic and proofs when I think about the dynamic of selling. When one undertakes to sell a product (or an idea), one starts by advancing a hypothesis. If the buyer buys the product (or idea), the extent to which the hypothesis is proven occurs when the product performs as promised (or the idea is verified by subsequent events).
I mention this because in my May article (The Next Three Stone), I proposed a very specific hypothesis; namely, that the new vibrating diamond mounting that I had seen at the Hong Kong Show in March would ultimately launch in the majors, and would subsequently represent a significant trend that was likely to impact your sales and profitability. While it’s true that no one has a crystal ball, I did at the time see a number of similarities to other important trend items (e.g., Three Stone, Circles, Journey), and it caused me to speculate that we would likely see the development of a similar consumption wave by Christmas.
Many of you reacted favorably to this insight. To date, we have opened over 400 Rhythm of Love (our name for our version of the vibrating diamonds) dealers. There are now also at least a dozen other suppliers in the independent realm, and I’ll speculate that there are probably over 2,500 independent jewelers now carrying this product category. In fact, independent retailers’ response to this category has been so overwhelming that several suppliers are already telling their customers that they are out of stock for the balance of the year, a fact that will no doubt place added pressure on everyone else’s inventory as we get into the peak holiday period.
And what of the majors? In the past month, we have witnessed the launch of Kay’s “Diamonds in Rhythm”, Helzberg’s “Beat of Your Heart“, Zales’ “Diamonds in Motion”, and Fred Meyers’ “Lovebeat”. If you’re curious about what they’re doing, just visit their websites and search for each respective brand. And if you go to the mall, you’ll find each brand prominently represented in their Christmas flyers and in-store signage, the beginning of what I suspect will be a full bore assault on the American public, to the extent that in relatively short order, the only consumers who won’t know about the little vibrating diamonds will be the ones living under a rock.
Now that they are finally in the game, the major chains are about to discover something that I already know, because Gems One’s five month head start has provided sell through data that they are only now starting to collect. What I know – and what is about to blow the minds of the folks in Akron, Kansas City, Dallas, and Portland – is that the consumer response to these silly little vibrating mountings is off the charts!
I am not overstating this point when I tell you that what I’ve been measuring is unprecedented. Yes, we have all witnessed amazing sell through of hot jewelry products in the past, but this has almost always occurred as a result of advertising pressure. The vibrating diamonds are selling without advertising at a rate that actually reminds me of the fastest turn of any jewelry item I have ever seen: those alien-looking red LED digital watches that sold by the truckload in 1974, without any advertising whatsoever. As advertising pressure starts to build, and as early adopters wear this new jewelry in their local communities, it’s becoming increasingly likely that the consumption wave will be massive, and with supplies still small, I’m pretty sure that in many communities, there will be insufficient supply to meet demand.
It looks like most of the majors’ initial advertising is internet based (although it appears all but inevitable to me that they will follow up at some point with TV). There is a relatively new form of web-based advertising in which prior site visits trigger paid ads, and since I’m constantly visiting the chain store websites, I notice that I’m getting hit with vibrating diamond ads constantly now. Zales has been especially aggressive in this regard, which makes me wonder if the new CEO there has placed a major bet on internet advertising in other categories.
In response, I’m looking into building geo-fences around our dealers’ local markets, in which we’re buying all of the competing vibrating diamond brand names as Search Terms, so that when consumers in our dealers’ communities search for competitor products, our customers – and Rhythm of Love – will show up at the top of the consumer’s search page. I am really looking forward to seeing the results from this particular marketing initiative, as I suspect that going forward, we’ll be relying more and more on this type of advertising to counter, and actually take advantage of, the massive advertising outlays from the majors.
Hopefully, you have already reacted by taking a stocking position in this new category. If so, here’s a tip: there’s no more effective form of display than a pretty girl, so make sure your staff are wearing this product when the hordes of male gift-givers appear.
And what should you expect next, given the way that this story has unfolded so far? Consider what will happen when tens of thousands of women who received a gift of vibrating diamonds show hundreds of thousands of their friends what they got for Christmas. If you’re smart, you’ll prepare for a pretty amazing Valentine’s Day, because our industry is going to have its first hot product in quite some time.
Remember, when we get lucky, jewelry-oriented consumers become interested in something new. But when we get really lucky, even consumers who don’t normally have much enthusiasm for diamond jewelry suddenly become interested, if the new hot item is sufficiently compelling. The “Echo Bounce” (what happens in consumer adoption when Early Adopters embrace a product in sufficient numbers so that the next wave – the Early Majority – start to buy) coming in February may be a tidal wave. Is your surfboard ready?
So… back to my opening paragraph about logic and hypotheses. As I survey the landscape as we approach the holidays and see events unfolding pretty much the way I predicted six months ago, I am reminded of the words of a smiling, cigar-chomping Lieutenant Colonel Hannibal Smith, the character played by George Peppard in the ‘80s TV series “The A-Team”: “I love it when a plan comes together!”
Have a terrific December!
George Prout is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Gems One Corporation, and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at Gems One’s New York office at 800-436-7787.