We’re often told that the essence of good marketing is getting close to your customers. What better way to collaborate with them on something as intimate as a piece of jewellery? Some makers are reporting a rise in demand for their custom-made jewellery services.
If you’re offering custom jewellery design, it’s really important to understand why customers are choosing that option and get the emotional connection right at that moment in time. Communication is never more important than when you’re working on custom pieces.
The customer, probably quite reasonably, expects a level of interaction and service that you just don’t get through your ‘off the peg’ jewellery collection.
Custom jewellery has historically tended to be the preserve of the wealthier and more demanding customer. You’ll need to think very carefully about the language you use to communicate with these kinds of customers.
At the top end of the luxury market, offering an exclusive custom jewellery design service to a small elite group of high-value customers is an important part of cultivating them. At this end of the market, customers tend to value exclusivity very highly – and they’re prepared to pay a premium for it.
A wider trend
Personalisation is a roaring trend across all areas of retail and it’s no longer just for the top end of the market. Customers can now access personalisation in the mid-market as well.
3D printing brings customisation well within the grasp of many people. In many cases, this mass-market customisation is mediated by technology. You need to be careful that you preserve the intimacy and emotional connection between your brand and a customer seeking a custom piece even when technology is heavily involved in the design process.
One smaller jeweller thought that they would make for more cost-effective custom jewellery design offering with less waste when they offered a basic web process for customers to design their own piece. The brand offered a simple range of options at each stage: three choices of metal, three of stone size and three choices of cut.
The problem was, the brand didn’t fully explain what each option meant and didn’t provide clear examples of what each option would look like.
This didn’t help the customer make their choice. When a customer is making a big-ticket purchase, such as an engagement ring, and where they’re likely to be unfamiliar with what each choice means, it’s vital to explain the options carefully and with good visuals.
Jewellery vendors often make the mistake of overestimating how much technical vocabulary customers understand. In reality, customers need to have a clear guide to technical jargon such as the different cuts of gemstone or the different types of setting.
They may also need some guidance on the appearance and properties of various materials or stones. That’s where your communication skills become vital.
Marketing the brand
Brand positioning is probably at its most critical importance when it comes to the custom market. Your brand is how your customer finds you to commission a custom piece but it’s potentially challenging making your brand still shine out of custom pieces. That’s why custom items are so unique – they combine the craftsmanship and some of the design values of the brand together with the personality of the customer.
In some ways, the popularity of custom jewellery is actually just a return to the original values of the industry. Customisation was a long-standing practice of the industry and it’s only in recent years that the jewellery industry has become more industrialised.
Designs are now much more standardised than they were when the industry was run mostly by small artisan makers and customised by individual patrons. The trend towards customisation is merely a return to traditional practices.
The reason we’re making this nostalgic return to custom pieces is pretty transparent. With growing household incomes, jewellery is now available to a wider range of people. This reduces the exclusivity of these types of purchases.
Consumers now need to work harder to stand out from the crowd. If more and more brides are getting diamond rings (as is the growing trend in China) then people that really want to signal their superior taste, budget, and sophistication are either going to have to get bigger diamonds or take a different path to demonstrate their superiority.
Jewellery means different things to people in different markets. In India, it’s still seen as something of an investment purchase and buyers often approach a purchase considering the resale value of the constituent gold.
In markets such as the UK, customers focus on the sentimental value and how much the piece expresses their uniqueness. Customers all have different needs that want to be met if you’re to approach them successfully with your custom services. That’s why communication is so vital to marketing custom services.
Approach the customer in their language with an offering that captures their emotional needs and you’re far more likely to both win their hearts and achieve a successful collaboration.