Meeting on the second day of the brand’s wholesale roadshow in London, there’s little wonder why UK managing director, Jon Crossick, and wholesale director, Nick Callegari, are feeling confident for the year ahead.
While they are by no means in denial about the tough trading conditions for both branded jewellery and retail in general at the moment, they do know they’ve got a strong strategy for 2018, which starts with the reinvention of Thomas Sabo’s Charm Club.
Complete with a comprehensive marketing concept, which includes fresh points of sale and creative selling opportunities, the brand has just the thing it needs to start the year with a bang.
Furthermore, the retail partners are equally as convinced that Thomas Sabo has a solution which will help engage new clientele and most importantly, drive sales.
Named the ‘Generation Charm Club’, for 2018 Thomas Sabo has revamped its original Charm Club, offering 260 new pieces designed, as the name suggests, for new and old charms wearers.
For millennials, buying a charm is no longer just about choosing a piece which physically symbolises a part of their personality or represents a significant milestone. Rather, the next generation of charm wearers are looking to combine the ever-growing personalisation trend with high fashion. They want to create their own personal look by mixing and matching designs.
Crafted in sterling silver and adorned with 18ct yellow gold plating, sparkles and classic natural materials, the Generation Charm Club is about stacking and layering charms which comprise vintage styles, extra-large additions, unique typography, star signs and brand new symbols.
Within the range consumers can play with a wealth of different carriers, necklaces, bracelets and single earrings to create their own style.
With the new products also comes a new Generation Charm Club logo, and the original round box has been replaced by sleek, squares drawers.
The new points of sale are also very modern and playful, adding another element designed to attract consumers, who will also be able to choose the colour of their bags and boxes to further enhance the shopping experience.
Tapping into the male personalisation market, the brand has added iconic Rebel at Heart designs to the Charm Club for the very first time. These charms will be presented in packaging with a black and grey stripy look and black drawer.
“The feedback has been great to the point where I’ve been thinking, I just want to get the collection into stores now,” shares Thomas Sabo managing director, Jon Crossick, adding: “It’s like our retail partners have said, it’s a new year, they’ve just started buying again, and this is the kind of kick-start they need for the season.”
Reviewing the previous year, one where comments such as ‘the end of branded jewellery is near’ have been circulating the trade, Thomas Sabo knew it needed not only a product which is different, but a fresh way to present jewellery and tell the story.
“The big talking point at the moment is footfall, the challenge of how do I bring customers back into my store who are now shopping in a very different way through different channels? How do I create that reason to come in? And a lot of them have seen the set up at this roadshow and thought actually, I can create an environment and a whole experience around this launch,” explains Thomas Sabo wholesale director, Nick Callegari.
Callegari adds: “It is not just about presenting some new product — it is actually presenting a new way to wear the product. How we actually make it available to a new customer as well, not just current Thomas Sabo fans, but people who perhaps haven’t shopped here before but all of a sudden see this new type of charm/jewellery and that fusion between the two. That I think has excited retailers as well, rather than saying ‘here are some new charms, put them in your display and hopefully people will come in’. That’s not going to happen anymore. You’ve got to give people a reason to come into the store.”
Customer events will be key to the launch of the Generation Charm Club, and indeed, as it is such a hot topic in the industry right now, vital to the success of every retail jewellery business.
Moreover events which are tailored to each retailer’s particular clientele are most likely to see the best results.
For instance, retailers looking to attract millennials will not fill their stores by inviting this age range to a traditional product showcase complete with a glass of prosecco. Instead, jewellers need to think outside the box.
Crossick shares: “We will give retailers templates of what to do, but it is also up to them. They’ve got to drive it, they’ve got to get their best customers in store on that big bang launch day and make sure it works. There will be road shows and ways in which we can present this in a fuller concept for customers as well. But then, there is a point where it is up to them to make sure it works and infuse their customers with something new.”
“It’s all about the experience and how you can create experience from this offering,” Crossick continues. “You’ve got to keep trying things. There is no one size fits all solution. It depends who your customer is and where they are in the country and what they’re interested in.”
Whilst meeting retailers during the brand’s roadshows, the Thomas Sabo team have been meeting with store managers for training, but also to collaborate on how they are going to sell it and what approaches might work in each individual store. These sessions have included Thomas Sabo bringing in a stylist to talk about the products, what’s trending, and how the charms can be styled and personalised to fit with the latest fashion trends — an idea which can easily be replicated in stores with retailers inviting local stylists along to add another dimension to in-store events.
“This is the sort of thing that the retailers have got to do as well — reach out to a local stylist and get them down and playing with the jewellery and customers playing with the jewellery and having fun with it. That’s what it’s got to be about. That creates experience and hopefully that creates loyalty from your customer so that they don’t just come once but come back the rest of the year,” Crossick continues.
Callegari echoes: “You’ve got to interact now with the consumer and make them feel special and do different things. It is the reason people will come out. Unless you offer something different, people won’t. They will stay at home and buy online.”
Retailers can also utilise younger members of staff and ask them what sort of in-store event they would attend. In Thomas Sabo’s own stores the brand will be hosting different events throughout the year to see what works, and to keep providing a reason to invite consumers in stores.
The brand will also be using social media to raise awareness of the collection and engage with shoppers on the very devices they are often glued to.
Beyond the Charms
One of the main messages the Thomas Sabo team would want to share with the industry is to not sit still.
Trade businesses which stay put and don’t do anything are going to struggle to survive on the high street. The market continues to be tough, but there are things which can be done to help drive businesses forward.
Events will certainly help increase footfall in stores, but it’s absolutely vital – when footfall is at an all-time low – to make the most out of every sale. This is something Thomas Sabo has been doing as a business, and last year the company saw its average transaction value rise by double digits.
“We knew that had to happen because we knew the footfall wasn’t going to come to store,” explains Crossick, adding: “So for me it is about increasing the perceived value of what people want to spend in store. Part of it is about expectation. You’ve got to keep raising that expectation so that £300 becomes the norm and not an amazing sale. It’s also not about going out to ‘find that customer’ who will spend more in store, because I bet they have already been in but no one has pushed them to spend more. You’ve got to get customers to open up, and share their emotions, to be able to meet their needs and get them to spend £300-£700.”
The brand also recognises it needs to raise the expectations of their retail partners of what they can get from a Thomas Sabo sale.
“From a retail point of view that’s easier to manage because we are in control of that, but from a wholesale point of view what we are going to have to do is re-educate our partners about how they are going to sell,” shares Callegari. “I think you need to position that in the hearts and minds of the staff themselves. We’ve said all along, the most important people are actually going to be the people – whether it’s our own retail staff or our wholesale partner staff – who are going to sell our products day in or day out. We are going to have to do an extensive piece of training and education to say, ‘this is the new way and new approach and this is how you do it and by doing it this is how you can generate higher ATV’s, sell more stories, sell more complete pieces of jewellery, and really drive that value’.”
With an ambition to raise ATV in store, Thomas Sabo will also be focusing more on training this year, making sure materials are engaging for staff members, and getting them excited about the brand and its products. The brand will also be cultivating its ambassador programme, making sure Thomas Sabo has specialist supercharge sales staff.
Another focus for the next 12 months will be men’s jewellery — an area Thomas Sabo has been seeing organic growth.
No doubt as Mr Sabo is renowned for having his finger on the pulse the brand will have other big launches up its sleeves, but for now the first half of the year is centred around the Generation Charm Club and making sure it starts strong and maintains momentum.
“The last thing from my point of view is optimism,” shares Callegari. “In the back drop of what has been a really tough season for everyone I think we’ve got to be optimistic. From the get go we hope that what we are doing has injected some optimism and some belief into the marketplace. Branded jewellery absolutely has a place in people’s businesses, and we are committed to doing everything we can to help drive that. We believe we are able to drive business forward.”
“And you know what, no one brand can do it on their own,” Crossick adds. “If you are talking about branded jewellery, hopefully what we are doing kick-starts something but there can’t be just one brand that does it. There needs to be a push. There needs to be a push by jewellers, and a push by brands, just to create that interest that’s going to – not bring branded jewellery back because I don’t think it’s gone, it’s just having a tougher time, but it was having an amazing time – it’s just a matter of getting back to those levels.”