A recent article in The Wall Street Journal about Clinique’s new approach to selling makeup and beauty products has me thinking about potential ramifications for our industry. While the price points of jewelry and makeup are far apart (unless you happen to be in the market for some black diamond nail polish), the jewelry industry might want to take a look at Clinique’s “hands off” approach.
As every woman knows, there’s nothing more likely to turn you off making a purchase than an assistant who interrupts your browsing.
Generally, we want to poke around the makeup counter, try on some different products and to do it all in relative privacy. What we don’t want is a pushy salesperson trying to sell us products we don’t need – or that don’t suit us – in order to get a higher whack of commission. While this may be our attitude, cosmetics companies know that the one-on-ones with customers is the key to selling products, especially in the competitive skincare sector where each product offers users a host of wondrous and miraculous results. And this is where the sales pitch comes in, unless the company happens to be Clinique.
Even at the risk of losing out in the skincare stakes, Clinique has rolling out its approach to the hands-off beauty shopping experience popularized by the beauty chain Sephora. Now customers can play with the products as much as they want to, without salespeople breathing down their neck. If they want help, they can simply ask for it.
“In Clinique’s new approach, called “Service As You Like It,” consumers can open wide drawers and help themselves to product without asking permission,” the Wall Street Journal article states. “Using one of several iPads installed around the space, customers can take a survey to diagnose skin care problems and get recommendations.” Labels also entreat those who know exactly what they want to “Just grab and go.”
It’s a strategy that seems to be working. According to its latest figures, Clinique says the new approach has led to an impressive double-digit sales growth at many of its stores.
Now to jewelry, which of course is a very different proposition – or is it? During the Las Vegas shows, I took an evening out to try to buy my fiancé a pair of cufflinks, “trying” being the operative word.
While I know that jewelers should be cautious about showing more than one item to a customer at a time, none of the cufflinks I wanted to compare were above the $100 mark. Since I was the sole customer in both of the stores I went into, there were plenty of staff to keep an eye on me while I compared the few pieces I was interested in. However, unable to deviate from standard procedure, the sales staff stood behind their counters as I tried to point out what I wanted. Needless to say, the whole experience left me cold – as well as empty handed.
How much different it would have been if I had been able to see the items I wanted up close. I wanted to compare and contrast and to get a feel for them, which I managed to do later that evening in a menswear store that had a large selection of goods on open display for people to browse easily.
We, who fear that people are spending money on other luxury goods rather than on diamonds and jewelry, need to start thinking out of the jewelry box or risk losing out altogether.
I don’t have the answers on how we are going to do it, but I do know that we are going to have to change in order to keep up.