The COVID-19 crisis has profoundly affected the fine jewellery market in 2020, but recovery is already underway. While it is too soon to say when the industry will fully recover, there is no question that consumers are willing to make fine jewellery purchases post pandemic, and fine jewellery buyers tend to possess more economic resources to maintain a higher standard of living, even during an economic slowdown.
In the post-COVID world, platinum’s share of the fine jewellery market may increase, because today’s consumers are purchasing fine jewellery for reasons that match well with platinum’s core qualities of rarity, endurance and strength. To capitalise, retailers and jewellers must understand the impact of COVID-19 on consumer sentiment in order to better design and market pieces for the post-pandemic period. Retailers also need to deliver a better and more personalised shopping experience across all channels, as online media and sales channels have become even more important.
Despite all the negative consequences of the pandemic, the research shows it has created one universally positive impact by encouraging consumers across all four of platinum’s key markets—US, China, Japan, and India—to re-evaluate their life in a positive way and to focus more on family and friends and other personal relationships.
Consumers seek greater personal meaning from their fine jewellery purchases, especially when it comes to gifting, and they view acquiring and wearing pieces of fine jewellery as a symbol of their emotions for loved ones and the bonds formed in those relationships. As a vessel of love and meaning, fine jewellery holds a special place as consumers seek to reaffirm their relationships after a long period of anxiety.
PGI believes three key findings are driving post-pandemic jewellery sales.
The first is the significance of gifting. As COVID-19 has made partners more appreciative of their significant others, it is driving a desire to share and celebrate meaningful experiences and moments more than ever.
Secondly, jewellery stands above many luxury items as consumers inject more personal meaning and values into their purchasing decisions. This category is one of the few in which the material adds value to the brand. The jewellery category stands above many branded luxury goods because of the deep personal meaning that is embeded into every aspect of every product and design.
The third finding is the willingness of many shoppers, particularly younger and wealthier consumers in China, to spend more on jewellery than pre-COVID, showing the attraction of high-end luxury and jewellery for those shoppers.
To enhance the appeal of new pieces and collections, retailers and designers should carefully consider the needs and priorities of fine jewellery shoppers, who are reevaluating their life and priorities. Gifts for unexpected times and a desire to mark special milestones and significant moments in life, especially when travelling and other experiential activities are limited, are themes that will resonate with shoppers.
The emotional connection consumers place on fine jewellery pieces is not the only driver, however, as global economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19 makes the value of platinum even more important. For many consumers, especially those in Asian markets like India and China, fine jewellery has a store of value, so the quality of the metal is of high importance. Platinum, as a high quality metal that is 30 times rarer than gold, is particularly relevant in this case.
In addition to designing jewellery that matches the evolving priorities of consumers, as well as focusing on its inherent value, retailers should develop a strong omnichannel marketing strategy. Despite a surging trend of online shopping, precious jewellery is one category where physical stores and in-store experience appear to be vital long-term, as long as stores clearly take extra safety measures. Therefore, an integrated online-offline approach is necessary to target and engage consumers and improve sales conversion through multiple touchpoints.
Recent examples in China suggest positive approaches for retailers to incorporate evolving consumer values into jewellery designs and marketing strategies. PGI collaborated with over 40 retailers to promote May 20th, known as “I Love You” Day in Chinese, with a “520–Love, Right on Time” campaign. In-store promotions supported by media and social influencers drove traffic to these partners’ e-commerce sites, promoting the holiday as a perfect opportunity to position platinum jewellery as a metal of meaning.
Global jewellery sales certainly suffered in early 2020, but great opportunities await jewellery retailers and brands. With many consumers re-evaluating their lives and priorities and gaining a renewed appreciation for their significant others, family and friends, they will spend more on products representing personal meaning and expressions of affection. As a symbol of rare and enduring love and value, platinum is well positioned to enhance its status in the fine jewellery market in the years to come.
By Zhenzhen Liu, director, global corporate marketing at Platinum Guild International