I wrote that, given the magazine had been a financial sponsor of the JAA for more than two decades it was appropriate to explain to our readers and the wider industry why we decided upon this course of action.
The article detailed a number of examples of how, rather than being a uniting force for the Australian jewellery industry, the JAA has continued to cause division and turmoil. It also explained why I believed the JAA had lost its way to the extent that many people have been left wondering what the peak industry body stood for.
Prior to Jeweller making a final decision to end a relationship that began in 1996, we undertook a qualitative survey of 200 jewellery retailers – 100 JAA members and 100 non-JAA members – to help us understand the state of the industry.
The survey was extensive, polling JAA members, former-members and non-members about a wide range of issues including the state of the industry, business turnover and profitability, challenges facing retailers, media consumption, the issue of two jewellery trade fairs, as well as their views on the JAA.
After collating and analysing the information, the results played a major part in the decision to end our 20-year financial sponsorship of the JAA.
Vision and Mission Statement
In an effort to ascertain if the JAA was achieving the Vision and Mission Statement listed on its own website, respondents were asked their opinion on the association’s purpose and its support for members.
The JAA lists seven aims under the vision: To be the first Point-of-Contact for… and we polled three.
Question: The JAA is my first point of contact for advice for my business?
Question: The JAA is my first point of contact for best practice advice for my business?
Question: The JAA is my first point of contact for career opportunities?
While the results of these three questions need little explanation, the next question and result does require a brief examination.
Question: The JAA is recognised and respected as an organisation for excellence and trusted leadership of the jewellery industry. Do you…
This result is most surprising. Only 62 per cent of JAA members agree that their own association is recognised and respected for excellence and trusted leadership.
Why is this figure so low?
While it is unreasonable to believe that any industry association would achieve a 100 per cent ‘agree’ on such a question, the result should be above 90 per cent by anyone’s reckoning.
Put another way, 38 per cent of its own members are undecided or do not agree that the JAA can be relied upon for excellence and trusted leadership.
The figure is understandably worse among non-members, with only 43 per cent agreeing with the statement.
As a combined result, only half of the jewellery retailers surveyed believe the JAA is achieving its vision to be recognised and respected for excellence and trusted leadership.
This is a shocking result given that ‘respect’ and ‘trust’ among its own members should be well above 90 per cent, let alone the wider industry and regardless of whether you pay a membership fee to join.
We also wanted to understand what current JAA members thought about their membership.
Question: Thinking about your annual JAA membership fee, how would you describe it as value for money?
Question: Thinking about how the JAA supports your business are you…
Question: Thinking about your JAA member benefits over the past three years, would you say they have…
Recognising that statistics can be read in various ways, what should concern the JAA – given membership numbers are in decline - is that 21 per cent of respondents viewed their JAA membership fee as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ value for money, while 45 per cent ranked it as ‘acceptable’.
The second question should be another major concern for the JAA – of those survyed less than 40 per cent of their own members are satisfied with how the JAA supports their business.
These two results may go a long way to explaining the decline in membership in recent years.
Finally, the majority of JAA respondents – 74 per cent – believe that there has been no significant change in member benefits over the past three years.
I have previously stated that the results of this survey played a major role in our decision to quit the JAA.
If our survey of 200 jewellery retailers is a reflection of the wider market, then the results show that, of the very people the JAA should be hoping to attract to the association – non-members – 57 per cent cannot agree that the JAA is recognised and respected for excellence and trusted leadership.
If 38 per cent of its own members also cannot agree the JAA is recognised and respected for excellence and trusted leadership then there is something wrong.
Adding to this is the fact that around 75 per cent of jewellery retailers polled do not believe the JAA is the first point of contact for business and best practice advice or career opportunities – all three of which are listed as components of the JAA’s raison d'être.
Worse, the JAA’s first vision listed on its website, ‘To be the peak industry body that represents greater than 75 per cent of industry participants’ is a noble aim; however, achieving this goal appears to be less likely given the continuing turmoil created by misguided and poorly considered decisions affecting the wider industry.
Rather than increasing membership towards 75 per cent of the industry, many of the JAA’s decisions continue to achieve the exact opposite.
After considering the above survey results, the JAA board can do what it always does – react by attacking the messenger – or it can sit back and consider whether its situation is as rosy as often suggested.
The JAA’s ‘perfect storm’ did not happen overnight, or even over the past 12 months; the disunity among its own retail and supplier members, financial sponsors, board members and resigning members goes a long way to explaining the survey results and, eventually, our decision to end Jeweller’s financial sponsorship.
Background reading: What does the JAA stand for?
More reading - Historical issues
Jewellers Association creates its own furore - May 2012
Diamond Wholesalers letter to Ian Hadassin - May 2012
Time for change at Jewellers Association - September 2013
More changes needed at JAA - May 2014
JAA appoints new executive director - June 2014
A changing face for the JAA - August 2014
Positive change starting at JAA - August 2014
More reading - JAA perfect storm
Jeweller ends 20-year relationship with JAA - February 2017
JAA cancels jewellery design awards - March 2016
What does the JAA stand for? - May 2016
Sydney jewellery fair organiser hits back at JAA - May 2016
Nationwide, Leading Edge make 2017 jewellery fair decision - September 2016
More industry division over two jewellery fairs - September 2016
JAA’s perfect storm: Nationwide quits association - October 2016
More reading - Other ramifications
Second resignation from JAA board - October 2016
Sorry state of (jewellery) affairs - October 2016