Consumer Behavior as regards Purchase of Jewelry
In general, U.S. consumers are still purchasing jewelry via traditional stores and in-person shopping experiences, retaining a majority of purchases. In the jewelry market, tradition seemed to account for most purchasing decisions and consumer attitudes, but individualism is one of the trends expected to influence the market.
GENERAL CONSUMER PURCHASING behavior
Jewelry consumers still prefer purchasing pieces in-store versus online, with 71% of primary shoppers choosing a brick-and-mortar experience. The social experience of shopping for jewelry is one of the continuing draws of a store, as is being able to see the physical item the consumer is purchasing. Fashion jewelry is popular universally, but statement pieces are considered an investment.
The primary demographic identifier of consumers is based on income. Most fine jewelry purchases come from "white collar professionals" with higher education and income levels. Jewelry purchases grow exponentially with increased incomes. Lower income consumers tend to not only spend less on jewelry in general, but their purchases are "fashion jewelry" versus fine jewelry.
Millennials are a large market force, especially in regard to fine jewelry. Contrary to stereotypes, demand for diamonds has held stable in Millennials as compared to similar surveys from 1990. It is important to note that the Millennial demographic is coming into its spending power later than previous generations, and will develop into a larger market force over time.
An under served market is the Gen X woman, roughly 35-55 years of age. Many of these women "want the collector piece and we are willing to spend more money for it." The Gen X'ers have the largest spending power of any demographic currently. However, the Gen X woman is turning to digital and e-commerce options more than any other as well.
An emerging market is women buying for themselves, as women are becoming increasingly financially independent and are not waiting for significant events to purchases items. Earnings for women, when compared to those of men, rose from 62% to 81% over the last four decades. This has increased the buying power of women, swaying many to make a jewelry purchase decision independently. However, women purchasing for themselves have the biggest gains in the fashion jewelry market, and are "rarely seen in stores."
Preferred method of purchase/ Sales Channel
Jewelry purchases are a social statement, and a social experience for many consumers. In-store purchases are the preferred method of purchase for 71% of surveyed consumers.
Only 6% of surveyed consumers considered jewelry an impulse-buy item. Most respondents suggested that they research their purchases and available styles, either online or in person, for several hours, with many visiting 3-4 retailers prior to making a purchase. Once a purchase decision has been made, consumers primarily focus on price and sales to make the decision of which retailer to buy from.
Part of this comparison shopping behavior is about the store's experience itself for the consumer. 85% of jewelry consumers want a good or pleasurable buying experience, and will often research the store via Yelp or online reviews. Consumers are relying on digital reputation and presentation for their initial research, making a web presence a make-or-break first consumer experience.
Credit amounts and terms are increasingly important to consumers, as many are looking to make significant investments into statement and fine jewelry items in the coming years.
In addition to the growth among the Millennial and women's consumer markets, the jewelry industry is growing by capitalizing on the individualism movement. To this effect, jewelry is seen as a fashion statement, with the under $500 per item market growing rapidly. These statement items are most often purchased by women for themselves. In line with this use of jewelry as self-expression is the increase in women purchasing pieces to display their cultural heritage, and share their unique styles via social media or other digital means.
Wedding pieces are still important, but the element of sharing and a desire for uniqueness will drive women especially to seek new designs. Peer-to-peer digital sales will also allow consumers to increasingly share and sell their own hand-crafted products without the need of a retailer. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for the benefits of uniqueness and ethical sourcing. For the price-conscious, digital resale will continue to represent a growing e-commerce share of the market. Above all, mass-produced styles of jewelry are going out of style for all income and gender groups.
In-store experiences still dominate the jewelry market, but artisan and second-hand purchases are performing strongly on an e-commerce platform. Increasingly, consumers are using a store's strong web presence to direct their in-person shopping to multiple stores, where the unique experience, price, and selection will then influence the final purchasing decision. It is critical that the industry recognize the growing economic power of women, especially among the Millennial and Gen X'ers, to continue to develop successful consumer strategies in an increasingly competitive, and lucrative, style market.