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Making Mother's Day magnificent

Jewellery retailers have the power to win sales and influence gift-givers this Mothers' Day. GRETEL HUNNERUP finds out what it takes.

Mothers' Day is undoubtedly a great time for retailers to make sales; it ranks second only to the December sales at most jewellery stores in the US and anecdotal evidence suggests that Australian retailers experience the same trend.

If a store is well located and embarks on small promotions, such as a mail out and a few posters especially for Mother's Day, then that store will probably capture a few last-minute buyers looking to make small transactions; however, it may not have cast its net widely enough to catch the extra consumers, such as those who value the story of a piece of jewellery over its price point - and these are the folk that can't be ignored.

Dr Sean Sands is a research fellow with the Australian Centre for Retail Studies, and he believes that with a bit of lateral thinking and extra effort, jewellery retailers can realistically attract more customers and make bigger sales in the lead up to Mothers' Day.

"In the current economic climate, people will certainly be looking for discounts and dollars off," Sands says. "In the lead up to Christmas, for example, nearly every kind of store had a sign offering between 10 and 50 per cent off and that sales period fared reasonably well; however, the most successful jewellery retailers will look for ways to compete beyond price. They'll think about offering value in different ways - the value of services or the sentimental value of a product, for example - and they'll adopt unique strategies to engage the client while they're in the store."

Some of the easiest methods for adding value and engaging customers have been implemented by retailers for some time: cultivate relationships with customers well before Mother's Day to encourage return visits; tell customers of the unique story or journey behind a piece to make it more special for mum; engage customers by asking them a range of questions about their product wants; stock products for mums ranging all ages; offer a cleaning or fixing guarantee with each jewellery piece bought for Mother's Day; or, have a selection of beautiful cards on hand to complement gifts.

In addition to these staple concepts, there are other out-of-the box ideas to complement the tried and true.

"If you look at the most successful retailers around the world, most of them offer in-store experiences," Sands explains, "Prada stores contain catwalks for shows, for example, and street-wear label Globe opens temporary stores in old warehouses and other spaces, which operate on word of mouth. There aren't many jewellers breaking the mould by providing a new experience, but one idea could be for jewellers to open up a space outside the retail environment before Mother's Day, such as a farmers market or around café areas. Aim for anywhere you'd expect to capture mother with her children or her partner."

Of course, a little in-store innovation also comes in handy.

"Think beyond the '40 per cent off' windows displays and towards something that will make people stop and think about their mums or partners," Sands urges. "You may suspend a whole lot of large pictures of mums and kids interacting in different situations - a young mum playing at home with her young children or an older daughter heading out with her mum for a social drink - then position pieces of jewellery around those scenes to show how they fit."

Retailers with an online presence are in a great position to promote Mother's Day widely without bombarding people with information and putting them off.

"We've done a lot of research with Google and have discovered that about 50 percent of consumers look online before going into a store," Sands says. "They search for particular products, compare prices and compare stores, so if you have the resources to tweak your website for Mother's Day, then go for it. Retailers could look to the Sportsgirl website as a guide because it promotes each new sale in a really engaging way."

Linda Abell, vice president of Sarah Leonard Fine Jewellers in Los Angeles, has a bold but effective strategy targeted at regular customers: she contacts husbands a month before Mothers' Day to suggest a particular item their wives have admired in the store.

Pandora
Pandora

"It's a really easy sale," Abell says. "Most of the time they'll decide on the telephone because they'll be relieved of anxiety. It's like having your own personal shopper."

Kate Peterson, management consultant with US consultancy group Performance Concepts, stresses the need to bring emotion back into Mother's Day, and suggests a "message to mum" promotion: Any customer who buys a Mothers' Day gift can enter the contest by composing a message to mum that describes what the gift symbolises about their relationship. The store chooses the best message and gives the customer a refund.

"Customers walk in with an obligation mentality," Peterson says. "We need to take them out of Mother's Day jail by making them feel terrific about being good to their mother."

Australian jewellery supplier Pastiche has devised an equally clever way to link products to mothers in a meaningful way, with the added benefit of using information from the promotion to inform future designs.

Last year, the company's website featured a bracelet giveaway promotion asking customers to pick the bead in its Lovelinks Collection that most reminded them of their mothers, and to explain why.

"Heaps of people picked the teapot because they enjoyed having tea with their mother, so we used that information to create a matching teacup in time for Mother's Day this year," says Ciara Ryan, senior graphic designer and marketing manager.

While this promotion was conducted by a wholesale company, the model could be easily adapted to jewellery retail environments both online and in-store.

Retailers need to be sure they don't overlook the most important aspect of Mother's Day: the stock. In 2009, Wholesalers are ready to roll out a host of products ranging from the traditional to the downright trendy.

Adding to the teapot and teacup, Pastiche has a new baby bootie charm for new mums that features white cubic zirconias in a pavé-set style. Also, the group is offering a sterling silver love-heart charm inscribed with the words "Nan" and "Grandma", and a sterling silver elephant sheltering a baby elephant.

For older mums and pearl aficionados, Cashelle is bringing out a new range of white freshwater pearl necklaces in larger sizes (9-10mm), plus matching necklace and bracelet sets featuring white and plum-coloured pearls.

This year, for the first time, the company will also be offering a necklace and bracelet range for young and funky mums called Global Heritage.

Each piece in the collection will feature an assortment of pearls and sterling silver beads with a shield, heart or tassel in sterling silver as the centrepiece.

Also in the pearl world, Susan Pender of Moonlight Pearls has just returned from Asia with a clutch of interesting pearls and semi-precious stones.

She'll be working these into the fish, dragonflies and other animals she carves from coral and bone for her unique earrings and enhancers.

Independent maker Renée Blackwell continues to produce highly creative one-off products; she's currently crafting a range of classy-looking earrings called Carnival. Set in sterling silver, the earrings feature stones of every colour under the sun, buttons and vintage glass from Germany.

High-end wholesaler Integral Design has just completed a new range of enhancer/pendants with matching earrings in a lower price category for Mothers' Day.

The range, called Vibrance, presents large cuts of onyx and smoky quartz alongside smaller diamonds in 9-carat yellow, white and rose gold.

Of course, this is just a snippet of the special product on offer this Mother's Day, and any effort that retailers make to look outside the regular channels and raise their product and service offerings is sure to leave a lasting impression on more than just mum.










ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gretel Hunnerup
Contributor •

Gretel Hunnerup is a criminology graduate turned freelance journalist writing about lifestyle, crime and justice. She also enjoys covering the arts, fashion and fascinating folk from her base in Melbourne. Her work has appeared in The Age Melbourne Magazine, Herald Sun – Sunday Magazine, Harpers Bazaar and The Vine. She also teaches features writing to Monash University journalism students. In her spare time, Gretel loves bushwalking and trawling op-shops for vintage treasures.
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