GUEST COLUMN: How will the jewellery industry keep up with millennial needs?

Guest Column

Guest Column by Tamsin Ivy, founder, Glitzbox

Every single thing you buy, you technically own forever.

This is a concept that millennials and gen z consumers are disrupting. Get bored of songs quickly? Download Spotify. Don’t fancy watching a movie more than once? Get yourself a Netflix account. Can’t possibly be caught in the same dress twice? Order one from Asos then send it back*.

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*Now that last one I don’t personally condone, but I do know it’s common amongst my 20-something peers. The Instagram generation are savvy. They don’t want to wear the same outfit more than once, but they also can’t afford the long wishlist of items that bloggers and influencers recommend on a daily basis. So they have created their own “rental” system taking advantage of free delivery deals and lax refund checks.

Like it or not this is part of the mentality of the next generation of consumers. Although they may not be your main target market yet, they will soon be the audience with the most spending power and you’ll want them to buy your jewellery. Yes there’s the fact that this generation also loves a good story. They like supporting independent brands and care about sustainable options. But how does your brand stand out in a saturated market where building a website and becoming a “brand” online takes five minutes? That’s where the access economy works so well. Millennials are open and willing to experience luxury services, but expect them to be delivered in a unique and compelling way and only for as long as they want them.

Access to luxury services, such as amazing villas and city escapes (Airbnb) or being chauffeured around town (Uber), isn’t what my parents would have expected 20 somethings to be able to afford. But in today’s society they can. In some ways we are the poorest generation in a long time (hello renting into our forties) yet we have one of the highest standards of living (restaurant food delivered to the door and mani-pedis on speed dial anyone?) This begs the question – in what ways will the jewellery industry revolutionise and adapt in order to meet this type of consumer?

It’s no secret that High Street brands can produce jewellery quicker and cheaper than most independents. For example the recent boom of the statement earring (thanks again Instagram) has been difficult on many independent jewellers. Creating bigger designs, with more material cost, but having to compete with price points as low as a fiver (for some genuinely cool High Street options) is tough. Competing with the “big dogs” of retail will always be hard. Luckily a large proportion of millennials are more interested than ever in independent designers. The draw is a combination of being the first to discover something but also caring about the quality and environmental impact of purchases (campaigns like #whomademyclothes is a prime example). The key will be engaging millennial consumers and ensuring emerging brands are accessible to them.

A great example of this done successfully is the beauty industry. It has boomed in the last few years thanks to the introduction of the subscription box model. Receiving a box of samples directly to a customer’s door was revolutionary. Brands big and small are included and it allows consumers to test products in the quiet of their own home before deciding to purchase. No pressure from sales assistants in-store or distractions from thousands of other products online. A little magic box arriving in the post each month has captured the interest of millennials across the world. Whether it’s the newness each month, the self-gifting, or the accessibility of covetable brands – it just clicks. Just as the beauty industry has pivoted to engage with this new wave of consumers, there are so many opportunities for jewellery to be more fun and engaging too. Cool concepts such as The Workbench and piercing parlours are sprouting up, creating a buzz around jewellery. However, there is still so much room to innovate and connect with these younger consumers as their spending power grows. Simply creating beautiful, quality pieces will not cut it in today’s society. It’s crucial to stand out.

Quality jewellery is traditionally thought of as something you should treasure, keep forever and pass down through generations. But how does that fit with those who crave newness, yet not waste? The Glitzbox service is one example of attempting to bridge this gap. We allow consumers the luxury of ‘borrowing’ three pieces of jewellery from different designers each month. This concept combines elements from the beauty industry, the access economy and the return-heavy mentality of millennial consumers. Members refresh their jewellery regularly and only buy what they love. Perhaps buying less, but also transitioning from buying from fast-fashion cheaper quality pieces to discovering independents they may never have heard of.

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2 Comments

    • Tamsin Ivy said:

      Glad you found it interesting Harriet! We are preparing to launch Glitzbox “Luxe” which will cater for designers with higher priced pieces too, so watch this space 🙂 x

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