Occasionally, forces align that create wonderful opportunities in the jewelry business. I’m happy to report that just such a scenario is about to occur, and if you move quickly to take advantage of it, you may see some very nice sales in December, as well as a strong bounce in diamond ring sales for quite some time to come.
Our story starts with a top-secret meeting that took place in late July between senior officials from one of America’s largest jewelry chains and the top brass at a well-known international diamond brand. Please forgive my purposeful vagueness here. The entities involved have maintained a pretty high level of secrecy thus far, so I’ll leave it up to you, my readers, to speculate on who the players are.
Someday, when the dust clears, I’ll write a follow up article on the extraordinary events that led up to this amazing strategic initiative. For now, here’s what you can count on: the meeting ended with an agreement to deploy considerable resources to position a new diamond jewelry category: the Two Stone ring. And I am absolutely convinced that the impact of this new initiative will be immediate, powerful, and long-lasting.
My understanding of the consumer story line supporting the Two Stone concept is a bit fuzzy. On the one hand, the two principal diamonds appear to be intended to represent the two people in the relationship, but there’s also an element in which one stone is intended to represent their romantic love, while the other represents their friendship.
There’s also an historic opportunity here to create a new diamond-giving societal imperative. Recognize that last year, over 40 percent of American babies were born to parents who weren’t married. We live in a society in which an increasing segment of adults don’t see a reason to get married, so with this comes a reduced imperative to become engaged. Is it possible that this entirely new diamond ring concept can evolve into the mechanism by which couples who won’t celebrate their relationship with traditional elements – like getting married – will choose to symbolize and demonstrate their love for one another? And is it also possible that gay couples who now can get married due to the recent Supreme Court ruling may embrace this new Two-Stone look as well?
How this will all get sorted out remains to be seen. For now, I think for at least the short term, you should think about this product the way you conceptualized Three Stone. But as we move into next year, watch for a wide variety of ways in which this new product may become positioned.
The timing of all of this is strategically important. The launch of the new product assortment is occurring with almost no prior memo tests so as not to alert the other major chains (since by this late in the year, even though the cat’s out of the bag, there’s no way for those competitors to ramp up production and advertising to catch up by Christmas). So in early December, when perhaps as much as 25 million dollars’ worth of TV ads hit, the chain that’s launching the Two Stone program will be sitting pretty with the hot new product, leaving their major competition completely out of play. The added expenditure from the diamond brand will help, and the fact that their dealer network consists primarily of pretty upscale stores will add cachet to the new product category.
And while the chain store may be breaking with convention by launching a product without memo tests, recognize that they do actually have strong historical experience with this Two-Stone bypass look. They’ve been doing a lot of business for quite some time in the “Personalized” category online, and it’s my understanding that over 50 percent of that business has been in a category called “Couples” rings. And guess what a “Couples” ring looks like? Yep, it’s a Two-Stone bypass ring. So the apparent risk in launching the product in an untested manner is significantly mitigated by the fact that they already have tons of data showing that the styling – as well as the core concept – both resonate with the target audience.
The really good news is that when the TV ads start showing up on the Sunday NFL football games, a fairly large number of male gift-givers may get the idea that this year’s must-have Christmas gift is a Two-Stone ring. Even better, the Two-Stone design concept contains wonderful bypass elements that are absolutely gorgeous. And while the initial push will be in rings, the bypass look also lends itself well to pendants and earrings, so I suspect that this new category will have extremely wide styling applications as the industry’s best designers start to play around with the concept.
As an industry, we have badly needed something new in white diamond rings for over a decade. Two-Stone fits the bill, and I strongly encourage you to get on board. There is a significant consumption wave coming which will be created by nearly 30 million dollars in advertising, and while your store may not possess sufficient funding capacity to create a consumption wave in your local market, you almost certainly do have enough money to build a surfboard, in the form of your own advertising of the hot trend item using both traditional as well as digital advertising methods.
The key will be to attempt to deflect the hordes of male gift-givers looking for this product away from the mall, and instead drive them into your store. And while the two strategic partners on the national level may initially leave the rest of the majors out in the cold, you don’t have to be. But you need to react right away.
Opportunities like this don’t come along every day. And while several other major trends are in place (notably vibrating diamonds and colored diamonds) that will still benefit from huge advertising during the holidays, with corresponding massive sales, it looks to me like the stars are lining up extremely favorably for a Two-Stone ring demand explosion. So get an assortment in your showcase, post videos on your Facebook page, and start distributing e-blasts to your customers. And above all, make sure that you’ve got some advertising running in December that will alert members in your community to the fact that you’ve got this hot new item too.
The historical track record of the chain store that’s involved in this project, when it comes to launching branded collections, is virtually perfect, and I expect them to get this one right too. I hope you’ll agree that this new wave is definitely worth trying to ride. Just move quickly, because the timing on this will be very important. And don’t forget… as the rest of the industry gets involved in this in 2016, you are likely to discover that being out in front this fall will pay excellent dividends next year.
George Prout is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Gems One Corporation, and can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com , or at Gems One’s New York office at 800-436-7787.