Bridal Q&A: David Hartley, Hearts on Fire

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Sales manager on creating and selling an added-value diamond offer.

The February 2013 issue of Professional Jeweller was dedicated to the wedding jewellery market and the emerging trends and market evolutions that will shape it in 2013. Here David Hartley, sales manager for the UK and Ireland for US diamond jewellery brand Hearts on Fire, talks to us about creating added value, the halo effect and the benefits of selling all three rings at once.

Professional Jeweller: What have you found to be the main changes to the wedding market over the past year?
David Hartley: In the engagement market the main change I have seen is that consumers have gained an appetite for added value diamond offers. All major retailers now have added value diamond collections or brands in store and online which means that people starting their diamond journey at the engagement ring stage are seeing these offers first as they start their search online or in the shopping centres. In this brand-driven world this will continue to grow through 2013. In the wedding ring market I still feel that quality plain wedding bands remain very popular, however I have see a shift toward diamond set and accented product.

PJ: Have wedding shoppers been price conscious? If so, how has Hearts on Fire answered this?
DH: Yes the shoppers today are price conscious, however they are more value conscious and there is a big difference. Customers will spend their money when they understand the value that they are buying. When working with a product that adds so much value, the key is to get that message across. We have developed a world-leading diamond experience which enhances the value a customer sees in retail staff, retail stores and diamonds in general.

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PJ: WHat is the most popular style of engagement ring at Hearts on Fire in the UK and Ireland?
DH: Solitaires continue to be very popular, however I have seen a shift towards product with additional diamond content. Diamond halos and shoulders have been very popular, which offer the consumer more bang for their buck.

PJ: What is the most popular metal at the moment at Hearts on Fire?
DH: With the price difference between platinum and 18ct white gold being smaller than ever, I have seen a move toward platinum.

PJ: Are diamond-set wedding bands going up or down in popularity?
DH: Up. People do like to put diamonds with diamonds. The key here is to encourage the sale of a wedding ring at the stage of the engagement ring sale, as many times we see that wedding rings bought [at the same time as engagement rings] are higher in retail value than those bought when all the wedding budget is already spent.

PJ: Hearts on Fire has a comprehensive website but does not sell online. Is e-tail important to wedding ring shoppers?
DH: The buying process in 95% of cases starts online, however the buying is still done in stores. It is key to have a good online presence and work with suppliers who also do.

PJ: How is Hearts on Fire marketing wedding and engagement rings to consumers?
DH: The best form of marketing is word of mouth so we have given our customers more information about the brand that they wear than ever before. We now have an iPad and iPhone app that shows the customer the value of Hearts on Fire. This app includes a catalogue, diamond information and videos. Within this we even take our customers on a How It’s Made tour of our cutting factory, and this is proving very successful. Tap in Hearts On Fire into an app search and have a look. Brand awareness and demand is increasing in the UK market due to product location and the video displays we are introducing into retailers’ windows. We continue to look into creative ways of increasing brand awareness and demand.

PJ: In your opinion will 2013’s wedding ring shoppers be flashier than 2012 or more conservative?
DH: Yes [they will be flashier], however I feel that this will come by way of shopping by collection and brand more than flashy product styling. The customers are seeing and buying into collections and brands more and more as they have done in all other areas of retail.

 

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