Retail MD on increased price sensitivity and why ethical isn’t working

The February 2013 issue of Professional Jeweller is dedicated to the wedding jewellery market and the emerging trends and market evolutions that will shape it in 2013. Here Helen Dimmick, managing director of jewellery retailer Green + Benz, gives her views on price sensitivity, the internet and why ethical choices aren’t influencing wedding shoppers.

Professional Jeweller: What have been the main changes to the wedding market over the past year?
Helen Dimmick: Customers are much more price sensitive. Many men will not have a wedding band so that they can buy the best ring for their partner, or alternatively they are happy to settle for a cheaper option for themselves. Customers are also undertaking far more research before they step into the store, so are able to talk about alternatives they have seen. Customers are shopping around more in order to find the right mix of good quality, innovative product teamed with the right level of service.


PJ: You mention an increase in price sensitivity. How have you answered this at Green + Benz?
HD: Very much so, customers have a very definite price range in mind and in the majority of cases will not spend above the maximum price, nor do we expect them to or sell in that manner. To ensure that we enable our customers to enjoy Green + Benz jewellery we have introduced lower price points in engagement rings, so we are able to cater for the customer looking to spend around the £500 to £1,000 mark. We also ensure that our customers are aware of the stores’ payment terms and the opportunity to take out interest free credit with us. Above all we remain competitive without jeopardising our integrity by offering high quality at the right price. We’ve increased our level of service to set us apart from our competitors and strive to form long standing and genuine relationships with our clients.

PJ: Are Green + Benz shoppers buying engagement and wedding rings online?
HD: Customers are definitely using the internet to gain ideas of the rings they like and also to gain price point information, but in the large this is research and they still visit the shop as it is such a tangible, emotive, life-changing purchase. It is important to see the rings, feel the weight, look more closely at the design and see the sparkle.

PJ: What is the current stone choice in vogue for engagement rings?
HD: The solitaire has remained the most popular choice for engagement rings, plus vintage style with added milgrain diamonds.

PJ: What is the most popular metal at the moment with shoppers seeking out wedding jewellery?
HD: Platinum remains our most popular metal for both engagement rings and wedding bands.

PJ: Are diamond-set wedding bands going up or down in popularity?
I would say the ladies market is still split 50:50, if price is restrictive at the time of purchase many ladies are opting for a traditional band set with one diamond, with the idea that they will add further diamonds at a later date. The men’s market has remained predominantly plain bands. The most popular wedding bands with a diamond set remain the channel set and milgrain styles, with the D shaped comfort fit for the gents.

PJ: Does ethical come into the purchasing decision with wedding shoppers?
HD: Price is the main factor behind a purchase; less than 1% of customers ask about the origins of the metal or stones. More information should be available to retailers in order to offer the best possible response to clients who express an interest or concern about where metal comes from.

PJ: How is Green + Benz marketing wedding and engagement rings to consumers?
HD: The website and the ring finder app have undergone significant investment in getting our products and message out to the public. We have also hired a professional PR which is helping raise our profile and clarify our market position as an independent, contemporary jeweller offering a fantastic selection of wedding and engagement rings to meet everyone’s preferred style and budget.

PJ: Does Green + Benz get much call for bespoke wedding jewels?
HD: There has been no increase in demand for truly bespoke jewellery, there is enough choice in the ranges the store stocks to fulfil the majority of requirements.

PJ: What will define the wedding jewellery market in 2013?
HD: The consumer will continue to want more for less, they will demand more for their money. With the current economic climate there are many retailers that are having to slash prices and this gives the consumer more bargaining power.