The jewellery and watch industry was worth £5.7 billion in 2018 and experts have predicted that this figure increased to £5.9 billion in 2019.
This is according to Mintel’s Jewellery and Watches Retailing UK 2019 report, which reveals demand for jewellery and watches in the UK remains robust, despite challenges on British high street.
Breaking it down, Mintel says sales for high jewellery has been the driver of growth, with customers moving away from cheaper branded goods in favour of keepsakes and investment pieces.
The personalisation trend also continues to shine, with younger consumers showing an increased desire for bespoke jewellery pieces, as well as demi-fine products as they start to move away from fashion into something that is more accessible and youthful than fine jewellery.
In addition, Mintel’s report outlines that sustainability and diversity have become top of mind for consumers, so jewellery brands and retailers should look to put ethical values at the core of their business.
Here, as jewellery retailers and brands prepare for a New Year in business, retail analyst at Mintel, Chana Baram, pinpoints three opportunities for companies looking to boost sales in 2020.
Opportunities in luxury timepieces for female consumers
Looking to appeal to more female customers, watch brands that had previously had a very male-centred approach are reconsidering their strategies. The norm used to be for companies that sold watches to go with a ‘shrink it and pink it’ approach — taking a design that was already used for men’s items and simply making it smaller and in more ‘feminine’ colours or designs. However, as watch buying has been increasing among women, they have indicated that they would like the same styles that are offered to men.
According to Mintel, nearly the same number of women bought watches for themselves as men, with 31% of women saying they did so over the last five years compared to 35% of men. Men are also more likely to be turning to digital options such as smartwatches. Therefore, rather than continuing to create smaller watches with diamonds, many luxury watch manufacturers are creating more upmarket and unisex styles to respond to the growing demand.
Current trends highlight how consumers are moving away from gender-specific products. More in the watch industry should take note, as watches are perfectly placed to go down the gender-neutral route; with many brand leaders already doing so, we would expect non-luxury brands to follow suit.
Jewellery retailers should do more to pursue the ‘pink pound’
Gay imagery in advertising and the media is relatively rare, particularly when it comes to jewellery brands advertising for Valentine’s Day, engagements or weddings. There are many opportunities for brands and retailers to stand out by becoming more diverse in their approach.
Some independent retailers doing this well include London-based jewellery retailer Stephen Einhorn which offers gay and lesbian wedding or commitment jewellery, including ceremonial cufflinks, and has a section on its website dedicated to this in order to make LGBTI customers feel welcome. However, when it comes to marketing campaigns from the big-name jewellery retailers, few are including same-sex couples.
Those that embrace diversity must do so in a genuine manner, by supporting the community that they are aiming to represent. For example, brands can choose to donate proceeds to worthwhile causes that support the LGBTI communities. In addition, marketing efforts will come across as more meaningful if they include a diverse range of LGBTI people. This is something we are yet to see from big jewellery and watch retailers.
Reaching younger consumers with jewellery trends
Traditional items of jewellery such as necklaces and earrings are most likely to be purchased by the over-55s but some trends emerging in the jewellery industry have piqued the interest of younger consumers.
There has been a noticeable rise in the number of young people who say they have bought body jewellery over the past five years.
One in five (20%) 16-24 year olds and nearly the same number (18%) of 25-44s said that they have done so compared to 15% in 2017.
Personalisation is important for jewellery shoppers. This is particularly important for younger shoppers — with two thirds (66%) of 16-24 year olds and nearly four in five (78%) of 25-34s saying that personalisation appeals to them. This has spurred on a desire for ‘curated’ piercings, with jewellers such as Astrid & Miyu, with its in-store piercing studio and ‘instagramable’ decor, appealing to young shoppers.
Additionally, many are reaching for more niche and unique jewellery brands, smaller unknown brands have been high in demand, particularly from upmarket online multi-brand retailers such as Net-a-Porter, which has the ability to stock a wider range of items.
Younger consumers are also more likely to be concerned about the ethical practices of different brands and retailers. According to Mintel, 68% of 16-24 year old and 25-34 year old fashion shoppers said they are trying to make more ethical fashion purchases now than they did 12 months ago compared to 57% of fashion shoppers overall who said the same thing. Younger age groups are also most likely to say that it is important that the jewellery they buy is made ethically and we are seeing more brands, such as Pandora and Swarovski, reaching out to these consumers by releasing ethical ranges and being open and transparent about their efforts in sustainable practices.
Bio: Chana Baram is an analyst at Mintel focusing on the retail sector. She harnesses her previous experience to analyse and write reports on the UK market.