Saturday, August 27, 2011

Are You A "Just Becauser?"....The New Jewelry Customer

Assorted Ippolita 18K bangles.  Starting at $695.
You've got a great job. You've worked hard, and over the years you've pushed other bitches out of the way...I mean you've snarled your way up the ladder of success. Along your star-studded path you've recognized important achievements with a nice piece of David Yurman jewelry, or maybe a Hermes handbag. When you scrutinize the Neiman Marcus website, picking out all the things you love, you see a beautiful pair of Christian Louboutins, and your feet start to itch, you have to have them so bad. Without a thought, you click, click, click those little red-soled gems into your authentic shopping cart, not the imaginary one that most people keep when they fake shop. You're used to treating yourself with nice things... because you can.

Heidi Mitchell, in her recent The Wall Street Journal article, "Jewelry Waits For No Man: Buy It For Yourself," notes how Mintel, a market research firm, identifies women who shop like this as a growing and important segment of high end buyers known as "Just Becausers." These are women, able to make exclusive purchases for themselves, just because. Because they want it, they think they need it, and most importantly, they can afford it. They are a professional women, age 45 and up, and last year, 59% of the purchases made by this group were for no particular reason.

It is exactly this logic that needs to be embraced by the jewelry industry. The industry has historically targeted a male market, and men generally only buy for some type of specific reason like an anniversary, birthday, or new baby, and, as men do, they apply way too much logic when making a purchase, especially a big one like jewelry. Most men buy jewelry like they buy a hammer at the Home Depot. Lots of dumb questions, like "what is the resale value of this ring?" or "where are diamonds made?" or "can my wife return it if she doesn't like it?" Do these analytical questions really have any bearing on the fact that  when you see a piece of jewelry that would look beautiful on your significant other and you can afford it, what's the big frigging deal?  Just buy it.

The jewelry industry is an old business and change took a long time. Back in the 90's, many of the smaller vendors we did business with were not even computerized. I remember visiting a vendor who pulled out samples that were wrapped in Kleenex tissues and stored in old shoe boxes.  Everything in his business was stored in his head. This would be tough for most of us if we were in our 80's (like this man) but he had a mind like a fox snare. Keeping with this attitude, much of the industry still designs for men who buy for women...not women who buy for themselves. If they were smart, they would start changing their direction toward this new trend.

H. Stern 18K YG Small Love Knot Earrings.  $2600






Some smart designers like IppolitaH. Stern and Ivanka Trump, have taken note.  They see that women think of jewelry as an extension of their wardrobe, not necessarily a reward for getting laid last night (well, maybe). These designers recognize that women want quality, but also want quantity...because they have the money.

Ivanka Trump - assorted rings.  Starting at $725.
But women are also being smart with their money in these tough times and many are turning to eBay, Gilt, and a growing number of designer consignment shops that resell gently used, authentic designer products for up to half, or less, than retail. Many women have purchased enough designer goods to spot a fake, and feel confident to shop on these sites, or if they feel insecure about this, many shops pride themselves on having the expertise to do this for you.  Align yourselves with a good one, like Bella Tutto, and you can save a ton of dough. 

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