Creative Christmas campaigns for 2011

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If you’re struggling for festive PR ideas, read on.

As we enter into the year’s most important few months for the retail industry, Kathryn Bishop takes a look at the Christmas marketing initiatives jewellers are employing to win sales this year.

Within the jewellery retail market it can feel as though, with each year that comes around, that the campaigns to win those all-important Christmas sales begin earlier and earlier. This year the countdown in larger retailers such as Tesco began in mid-September, while many shoppers were walking the aisles in shorts and T-shirts. While it was easy to laugh off the procession of Lindt santas led onto the shelves by staff back then, in the chilly climes of November none can deny it really is time for the Christmas hype now.

Last year’s overall retail sales were worth a total £293bn and Christmas sales usually equate to an average of 20% of this sum over a 10-week period, meaning that last year’s Christmas sales would have been about £58.6bn. For jewellery retailers, having a slice of such a figure will be of utmost important in the coming weeks. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) looked ahead to Christmas in a report on consumer spending released in September and revealed that consumers are in fact buying less but spending more as inflation finally hits price tags, but this is something that should in fact be music to the ears of high-value retailers such as those in the jewellery sector.

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However, consumers do have a lot of choice and a huge number of retailers and products vying for their money. BRC director general Stephen Roberston warns that retailers will have to up their game and offer a point of difference to attract business. While some might see this as a burden, proactive retailers will see it as a chance to get creative and show consumers why they should be first choice for product, service and, more so than ever, value.

For many, the way to win customers’ hearts this year will be with in-store events to which customers are invited to shop new collections or see special launches, with a glass of bubbly and some canapés. London retailer EC One has hosted pre-Christmas customer events for several years, including designer evenings with Stephen Webster and special events for affluent women from across the city. This year the retailer will again host an evening with Stephen Webster dedicated to the brand’s Murder She Wrote collection, with a crime theme and special discounts on the night. “We are getting together props and bits and pieces for the night,” says EC One website manager Lindsay Pearson. “We will also be launching a new website in time for Christmas, with many new collections and designers including William Cheshire and Tamara Gomez, and we’ll offer special discounts via our newsletters in the run up to Christmas.”

Likewise, nature-themed brand Alex Monroe will be focused on winning consumers with a Christmas-themed project that follows on from last year’s 12 Days of Christmas concept in which the brand consecutively revealed limited-edition designs from December 1 based on the famous Christmas song. This year the company will utilise a similar style of project and says it will be bigger and better, something Monroe himself is said to be very excited about and has already been hand-making pieces for. The brand will also launch a similar campaign in Japan, where Alex Monroe jewellery is popular and has its own sales agent.

For Pebbles in Edinburgh, having to work with a budget has meant that, while the retailer would love to have a big campaign, constraints mean that will focus on local advertising. “As a small independent we do not have the same kind of big budget as the multiples,” said Pebbles co-owner Val Trotter. “However, we all know how important the Christmas trade is and have planned to capitalise on it by holding shop events, increasing our local advertising and, for the first time, producing a Christmas gift guide that will be available in print and online.” Trotter also says the company will work on its social media presence, with gift advice and competitions.

Online activity is central to many brands’ and retailers’ Christmas campaigns and Northampton’s Steffans has already had huge success through this medium. It launched its Big Bang Christmas marketing campaign on October 1, encouraging consumers to leave their email address for a chance to win a bracelet in a daily giveaway that will continue until December 24. Each entrant is also automatically in the running to win £2,500 to spend at Steffans and by the second week of October the campaign had attracted more than 10,000 email addresses.

Online-only retailer Boticca, which sells a large and varied collection of jewellery from designers and brands across the world, has a Christmas project lined up utilising social media. Boticca co-founder Kiyan Foroughi said: “We also have an exciting project planned with social media at its core that will bring our international community of designers and customers together for a shared cause.” The company will also push its presence to the national press, with editorial focused on different independent designers, playing on each of their stories as ways of attracting consumer interest.

Unusual design will be high on many consumers’ wish lists this year as they search for unique gifts. The ability to create something special for a customer through a bespoke design service will be of importance to retailers with a workshop or bespoke capabilities. Emma Clifford, clothing and fashion analyst at Mintel market intelligence, says that retailers need to be ready to impress as consumer attention risks being caught elsewhere. “There is an opportunity for more retailers to offer remodelling services to create bespoke pieces tailored to each shopper’s individual specification,” she says, noting the competition that fine jewellery retail faces in the Christmas market. “The competition from costume jewellery [is a] challenge.”

But brands such as Carat*, which are focused on offering affordable luxury, see Christmas as an ideal opportunity to reach out, with jewellery that can be bought both in advance of the festive celebrations or for the day itself and beyond. Carat* chief executive Scott Thompson describes some of the brand’s plans, as it aims to widen its grasp on jewellery’s mid-market. “This is going to be our biggest Christmas ever,” he says, of the simulated diamond and gemstone brand founded in 2003. “With 24 boutiques and more than 30 wholesale customers we have our work cut out and are currently working on a soft launch of our first watch collection in Hong Kong as well as continuing to develop our successful Rocktail range.”

Thompson reveals that advertising is a large part of Carat*’s Christmas campaign. “We had our global marketing budget meeting in September and I was amazed at how many ads we have going on.” The brand will also celebrate its first Christmas in Harrods and Selfridges, “two places that really get me in the mood for Christmas”, Thompson adds.

While Carat* will be well and truly focused on the sparkle, other retailers are finding that taking a more subtle approach demonstrates sensitivity towards customers who may still be wary about handing over cash in tough times. Sophie Fulford, managing director of Winsor Bishop in Norwich, says that while her retail store will focus on local advertising, it is steering clear of pushing diamond products. “We’re responding to how people are feeling in the economy right now and are running a more considered campaign rather than showing diamonds off everywhere,” explains Fulford. “It’s based on a gold band designed to look like a halo with a single diamond and the message says ‘For all those who have been good this year’.”

Whether campaigns are brash and attention-grabbing, or low-key and subtle marketing what your business has to offer in the next few weeks is vital for anyone hoping to make jewellery sales shine this Christmas.

This article was taken from the November issue of Professional Jeweller. If you are working in the UK jewellery trade and would like to subscribe to the monthly print edition of Professional Jeweller for free, click here.

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