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Soapbox & Opinions

Articles from FASHION JEWELLERY (291 Articles), COSTUME JEWELLERY (27 Articles)










Ciara Fulcher
Ciara Fulcher

Fashion jewellery phenomenon

It’s little wonder the popularity of fashion jewellery has soared recently – young Australian brands are carving out social media marketing strategies that few traditional jewellers have the skills or desire to emulate, says Ciara Fulcher.

When I was younger, my mother told me I should be one of three things: a jewellery designer, a beautician or a shoe store owner. Apart from the obvious personal benefit, her point was ultimately that women will always have money for jewellery, lipstick and shoes!

While this seems a superficial observation, it is a fairly astute statement and one the jewellery industry should not forget. Even in the midst of this economic situation the money is out there – but where is it going?

I am intrigued by the burgeoning sales of costume jewellery and the apparent decline in sales of their precious counterparts. It would be easy to write the discrepancy off as a result of relative price points and the abundant availability of mass-produced items. I think everyone in the industry was able to concede a degree of understanding in the initial phases of the fashion jewellery phenomenon. But what has really become unfathomable is when a wooden ring with a hunk of plastic stuck to the top can retail at $635 while the local jeweller struggles to sell a sterling silver, handmade pair of earrings for $80.

I recently went down to my local shopping centre to find my favourite (precious) jewellery store replaced with a fashion rival... and more people in-store than I’d seen in months. I have friends who think nothing of spending an inordinate amount of money on costume pieces yet baulk at the idea of spending less on a silver alternative. The reality is that it is no longer a price issue but a situation fed and fostered by consumer perception. Consumer behaviour is dictated by marketing campaigns. This is neither a foreign nor revolutionary concept, but what has changed is the scope of delivery and the accessibility of information via social media and online marketing forums.

The advent of peer recommendation and endorsement through social media means that traditional ad techniques are no longer trusted – there is overwhelming evidence to support this view. Communication and the availability of information is still the key to establishing brand awareness and ultimately influencing sales, yet few traditional jewellers and suppliers have amended their marketing strategies in accordance with the new promotional and technological climate. No wonder market trends have shifted towards fashion-based brands that utilise the platform most effectively.

In a study conducted by Facebook, it was noted that globally web surfers spend an average 15 hours 33 minutes a month on the social networking site. A jeweller generally gets a 30-second window to initiate an in-store sale, with the potential loss of interaction in mere moments, so one must consider the benefit of having access to potential clients for so long online.

I think traditional jewellers feel discouraged – and to some extent attacked – when their lack of ‘technical savvy’ is highlighted, and become more resistant to it as a result. They certainly deserve the respect attributed to mastering an age-old craft and having applied creative abilities understood by few and envied by many. My personal concern, though, is this tradition will fall by the wayside if it is not promoted and, as a result, appreciated by younger generations. All change is daunting, but this does not justify inaction.

I believe that most jewellers and jewellery companies accept the reality of current media requirements but do not necessarily have the information to utilise the appropriate techniques (perhaps due to the inherent discrepancy between an age-old trade in a rapidly advancing technological age?). In reality, the use of this media is no more intimidating than holding a conversation with friends – and there are several online resources to aid and educate small businesses in it.

Community college programmes and business network organisations regularly offer seminars and courses, and there is always the option of hiring someone to help. Young Australian brands go out to sell themselves and reach their target markets directly. Relationships are formed and personal connections are made, which engenders trust regardless of product type and quality. The long-term effect of rejecting modern media is not merely a loss in sales but also has the potential to damage consumer perceptions with regard to value and drive sales away from precious metals and handmade pieces. Can we afford for this to occur?

Ciara Fulcher is a media strategy consultant, ex-Pastiche employee and founder of jewellery and accessories site www.podpeopledesigns.com.au.











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