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Articles from RINGS - ENGAGEMENT (220 Articles), RINGS - WEDDING (206 Articles), RINGS - ANNIVERSARY (69 Articles)

Wedding figures rising, but consumers' relationship with weddings has been rocky.
Wedding figures rising, but consumers' relationship with weddings has been rocky.
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How to lead the wedding march

It’s a $4bn-a-year industry full of potential for jewellers. Ian Cook seeks advice on the dos and don’ts of bridal retailing.

Love is in the air: wedding figures in Australia are on the way back up again, and with couples the world over buoyed by this year’s much-hyped ‘fairy-tale’ royal wedding in the UK, the country has fallen in love with marriage once more.

Consumers’ relationship with weddings has certainly been through a rocky patch of late. Feeling the pinch of the economic downturn, many couples have been prepared to put off the expense of getting married until another (big) day, rather than forego the full grandeur of their dream wedding. Now, although consumer optimism is by no means fully restored, there are signs that, for some at least, the timing is right once again – and jewellers would do well to take note.

Coming through the worst of the economic downturn, growth in disposable income has been fairly solid since 2009. Coupled with the strong Australian dollar, many consumers’ perceived wealth is beginning to creep back up. The effect this has had upon the wedding industry is that, after a slowdown in 2008 to 2009, the number of marriages is once again on the rise, with more than 118,100 couples expected to tie the knot in 2010-11, according to a report from IBISWorld on the Australian wedding industry. In fact, the global analytics company has gone so far as to say that a record-breaking year is not out of the question.

What’s more, the average cost of getting wed in Australia has skyrocketed 25 per cent in the past three years to almost $49,000, according to a recent survey of 1,000 couples by niche consumer magazine Bride to Be. Staggeringly, that’s almost the same amount as the respondents’ average yearly income. The importance that consumers place on this once-in-a-lifetime event is clear – and should remind jewellery retailers of the potential business that exists for them in the bridal and engagement category.

Of course, there can be no wedding without a proposal. Bride to Be’s research also showed that the cost of the average engagement ring has almost doubled in the past nine years, with more than a third of couples planning on spending in excess of $6,000 on what, for many, will be the most significant jewellery purchase they ever make.

Another important fact is that the average age of brides and bridegrooms has been increasing steadily over the past 20 years (the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows an increase of roughly 3.5 years since 1989). So with these older, and more financially stable, couples’ higher incomes, it is not unreasonable to expect Australians’ outlay on weddings to grow, so long as economic conditions remain favourable. Encouragingly, IBISWorld projects annual industry growth of 5.2 per cent from 2011 to 2016, which would take wedding revenues above the $5 billion mark. This compares very favourably  with the picture of the past five years, when revenues experienced a small dip to a little over $4 billion.

Alongside the promising signs for consumer sentiment and the perceived wealth of brides and bridegrooms-to-be, age-old conventions – such as the notion that a groom should spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring – remain f

irmly entrenched. This combination, of course, means good news for jewellery stores.

Competition for those wedding fund dollars however, is – as always – fierce. So now is the ideal time to consider how to give yourself the upper hand in the bridal and engagement market. Nearly one in three brides-to-be are proposed to during winter and with October and November being the most popular months in which to marry (with 24 per cent of weddings occurring in those two months in 2009), there’s no time to waste in making sure you’re in a position to capitalise.

Here, Jeweller brings you an essential checklist of bridal retailing dos and don’ts, compiled by industry experts, that will help you get your name on the guest list and ensure you don’t miss out on the vast measure of wedding party spoils.

The "Idos" and Don'ts Panel of Experts

David Brown: Co-founder of Retail Edge Consultant

Peter Beck: Founder of Peter W Beck

Janice Mack Talcott: Diamond sales trainer and consultant for Retail Edge

Leanne Argyle: Co-founder of Jewellery Marketing Solutions

Robin Sobel: Managing director of Protea Diamonds

Stephen Brown: Director of RJ Scanlan

Carol Evans: Visual merchandising consultant

Virginia Halfacree: Marketing manager (wholesale) of Pandora




rules of engagement

  JANICE MACK TALCOTT: When selling engagement rings, be aware that if ‘He’ is shopping, he is seeking the diamond and not necessarily the ring. His primary concern is his budget and he either wants the biggest or the best diamond he can get for the money he has available to spend. Your message to him must convey both solutions.



 JMT: Unlike her man, ‘She’ may dream of a big diamond but her primary concern is style. She seeks possibilities by shopping, comparing with friends and by consulting bridal magazines. Your message to her must convey breadth and depth of offer. If they are shopping together, be mindful of the fact that he will often acquiesce to what she wants.





  JMT: If he’s shopping alone for an engagement ring, be aware that he probably has a lot of information about diamond quality and prices from the internet. Yet there’s a difference between information and knowledge. Respect what he thinks he knows, but confidently position yourself to help him through what he doesn’t know.

Wedding figures are on their way up again but consumers' relationship with weddings has certainly been through a rocky patch. Read our dos and don'ts of bridal retailing.
Wedding figures are on their way up again but consumers' relationship with weddings has certainly been through a rocky patch. Read our dos and don'ts of bridal retailing.








Stock and pricing management








STEPHEN BROWN: There are always customers that need the ring ‘same day’, so don’t get caught short with a small amount of stock. Carry three or four best-sellers in a variety of common sizes so you always have something that fits. This will guarantee extra sales.



  DAVID BROWN: Too often there is concern that customers won’t want to see ‘their ring’ worn elsewhere. They don’t pay enough to guarantee exclusivity, so by not re-ordering a good seller you may be depriving yourself of repeat business. What one person likes is often loved by another.

ROBIN SOBEL: Jewellers need to look at new designs or rings and keep up with overseas trends – today’s consumer is educated and the internet gives them all the knowledge they need to buy smarter. They know about the 4cs; they know what shape diamond they want, what style of setting – and most of all they have checked out the price online.

SB: At Dora we have been supplying metal sample kits for many of our stockists and these work well by showing a larger variety of rings than could be afforded in real gold rings. Samples also mean that the range doesn’t dwindle as stock gets sold so you always have a good range to show.

DB: If you get pressured to discount on the engagement ring, try to leverage the back-end ring sale as part of the deal. Too often the wedding rings aren’t considered by either the buyers or the jewellers at the time of the initial sale.








Make display pay

CAROL EVANS: Weddings are held all year around, but there are always times – such as spring and summer – which are particularly popular. At these peak times a ‘special’ window is a great idea. A simple prop could be created by buying a metre of tulle and white ribbon, surrounding the display with the tulle and tying it with a few white ribbons made into bows, or draping it over the stands and using the bows through the display.

SB: It should go without saying that displays need to be well maintained, tidy and looking their best at all times. The store owner or manager needs to walk out the front of the store each morning and view the window critically as if they were a consumer. What’s appealing, what’s not appealing, what needs attention and what could be displayed better?

CE: Most customers have a fair idea of what they want, so keep white gold and yellow gold in separate pads. Or, if displaying in boxes do one side white and the other yellow.








  CE: Although you want to display a broad range, try not to have very expensive rings on the same pad as lower-priced ranges. This will only embarrass the customer who can only afford the lower-priced rings.

PETER BECK: Displays are one of the first things customers’ eyes are drawn to in-store; they should be relevant to the product, so themes work well, and should enhance the products’ look rather than detract from it.

CE: If you are showing handmade, special ‘one off’ designs, make sure this is stated so that customers will understand why they are more expensive, and display them in the ‘focal’ position in your windows.





  DB: Don’t fall into the trap of placing all of your best bridal product in the window; this doesn’t give you the opportunity to interact with customers. You need to have bridal ranges on display within the store, as well as having teasers in the window.

CE: It can be a good idea to price all stock in windows. Often you are not dealing with a ‘retail savvy’ customer – it may be the first time the groom has ever walked into a jewellery store! By pricing everything you can set your target customer at ease by letting him know there is something he can afford. Your chance to upsell starts once he is in the shop.










SB: Use your branded materials in displays, at the point of sale and in your window. Consumers often need reassurance before they enter a store they have not been in before, so if they recognise brands that are familiar to them, it will encourage them to enter the store.

LEANNE ARGYLE: Gather testimonials from happy bridal couples and use those in your marketing – especially in small towns where people tend to know each other and will shop in places their peers endorse.

PB: Advertising in bridal-specific publications, or even local newspapers or consumer magazines, can work really well when wanting to attract a specific type of customer – in this case, brides and grooms-to-be. Be sure to advertise your strengths and promote those aspects of your business that make it unique.








LA: Avoid taking a ‘shotgun’ approach to advertising. The important question to ask is, “Who has my clients before I do?” Even if you didn’t get the initial engagement ring sale, you can still work your way into the couples’ thinking by partnering with other wedding party suppliers and making collaborative offers that encourage the customer to come to you when it’s time for that wedding ring decision.








Customer experience

JMT: 74 per cent of couples make post-engagement purchases at other jewellery stores, so remember that the bridal business is not just about winning the sale, it’s about winning the customer. Always keep in mind that bridal does not just mean engagement bands; it includes intention or promise rings, hers AND his wedding bands, the bride and groom’s wedding day gifts to each other, wedding guest gifts and the couple’s first anniversary gifts.

VIRGINIA HALFACREE: When it comes to the bride’s choice for her and her bridesmaids, take the time to introduce matching or similar items, offering further inspiration. Options could include several gold and diamond rings, simple and elegant gold pendants, classic on a fine chain or modern and edgy threaded on to leather – sales staff could also introduce the idea of layering. Just always keep in mind the ‘feel’ of the bride’s initial choice.

PB: When choosing items for the ‘Big Day’, all couples want something that is personal, memorable, and reflective of their relationship together. By making their whole experience with you unique, you’ll ensure they feel special. This guarantees that they’ll remember you in the future.

SB: Be upfront with your customer about such things as rhodium plating and give them alternatives such as palladium, platinum or white gold without rhodium.

VH: Engagements and weddings are such a happy time for the special couple, their families and friends. Take the time to relate to the personal stories of these potential customers; build an understanding and relationship with them. This will create interest, sales and – hopefully – customer loyalty.

SB: When you sell a diamond engagement ring ask when the wedding is. You can then suggest a date for them to come back to try on wedding rings and as a hook offer a free clean and inspection of the claws for her diamond ring when they come back at a later date to look at wedding rings.

JMT: Winning the bridal customer and servicing them regularly means winning a customer for life.  It’s important to help them select something that commemorates their first year together.  Most couples don’t prioritise jewellery for their first anniversary, and may not be willing to spend a large sum.  The most important thing is to sell them something that is significant, even if not expensive. Something that symbolises their first year together. Once that is established you have elevated your chances of selling them a significant, symbolic piece for every year thereafter.











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