How to sell to female self-purchasers

Leah Meirovich

Women who buy their own jewelry are a rapidly growing market, but retailers need to retool their approach if they want to attract these customers.

It shouldn’t be a novel idea, but in the jewelry industry, it’s practically revolutionary. Unlike in almost every other fashion and accessory retail sector, the idea of jewelers targeting female shoppers as direct consumers only began to emerge fully in the past couple of years. 

But why has this strong and fast-growing segment been overlooked in the trade for so long? In this male-dominated industry — from its store ownership to its designers, salespeople and marketing teams — the long-held belief that men are the primary purchasers has centered around big-ticket items such as engagement rings. 

However, women are no longer the homemakers. They are entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners with established careers. They are not only willing to spend money on themselves, but empowered to do so by their circumstances. The problem is, while the times have changed, jewelry retailers — and their marketing — haven’t.

More than half of millennial-age women say they are the primary buyers of jewelry in their households, according to a study by MVI Marketing. Beyond that, women control more than $20 trillion in global spending and make up 85% of all brand purchases, said marketing consultant Stephanie Holland in a recent webinar hosted by jewelry-industry group the Plumb Club. Holland, who founded the She-conomy blog and specializes in marketing to women, added that within the next decade, women would control more than two-thirds of consumer wealth in the US. 

Putting that into context, if jewelry retailers continue on the same marketing and selling trajectory they have followed in the past, without taking into account who’s actually making the purchase, they will be severely impairing their business and cutting off a large portion of potential sales. Lyst, a global fashion-search platform, says that while women are likely to spend less on an individual piece, they buy up to three times more jewelry than men do. 

But overhauling a long-standing practice isn’t simple, so how do you sell to self-purchasing women? First and foremost, it’s imperative to understand their needs and desires, and that begins before they even walk into the store.

How it looks vs. how it feels

Retailers need to take into account the difference in mind-set between women and men when it comes to a purchase, says Andrea Hill, CEO of Hill Management Group. While men base purchases more on performance or the status it can bring, women relate on a more emotional level, explains Hill, whose company provides consulting, marketing and other services to small and mid-size businesses.

Men tend to shop visually, which is why a car advertisement featuring a sexy woman appeals to them, she says; it equates the product with virility. However, when it comes to attracting female shoppers, a woman wants to know how the item will make her or her loved ones feel, or how it relates to things that matter to her, according to Hill. “Just showing a picture of the jewelry, the car, the beach vacation, that doesn’t work so well for women,” she says, but depicting her wearing a necklace while enjoying quality time with her family or while out to dinner with friends is a good way to close a sale.

On the hunt

Men are utilitarian shoppers, focused on the buy, Hill continues. They have a goal and want to get in the store, get what they need and get out, while women are much more interested in the hunt.

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Source Rapaport

To read on the same subject (2013):
Have you asked women?
How to sell to female self-purchasersDiamonds and desire in jewelry