The Covid-19 pandemic has caused irreversible shifts in consumer behaviour in most industries.

However, in jewellery, one particular shift means that there is now one offering jewellers cannot afford to miss out on post-pandemic, writes Mike Shotton, director of retailer Acotis Diamonds.

In March 2020, when we closed our physical store and all demand shifted online, we didn’t know what to expect, but we recognised that listening to our customers’ needs was our primary focus.

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During the first lockdown, we started to understand that this virus was not going to be a short-term problem.

Therefore we ensured that our employees could work safely from their homes, and the website would run with the expected level of service for those continuing to shop with us online.

However, as the weeks went on, and the country saw that the lockdowns would not be a temporary solution, we saw consumers beginning to search online for gifts and tokens to send their loved ones.

Immediately we could see that consumers were looking for options that could be engraved or personalised, as this was a way they could make a present more heartfelt – particularly if a loved one was celebrating a milestone but would have to do this on their own.

Jewellery and accessories that could be engraved rapidly grew as a trend, so we responded to this demand with two key actions: we communicated the demand to our brands so they could provide us with more styles for the consumers, and we built a dedicated engraving section into our top navigation bar for ease of access.

We built on these developments by offering free engraving on all engravable products, which sets us apart from some of our key competitors – this differentiation is always an important consideration because our brands are also sold on other sites.

Now, over a year on from the start of the first lockdown, we are still seeing significant demand for engravable jewellery products, and our percentage of those products has increased to 5% but is set to grow further.

Interestingly, we have seen the motive for these products diversify into two main categories: engravable heartfelt gifts and individual personalised pieces.

The heartfelt gifts trend has continued to translate into strong sales for the category, with dates and touching messages among popular engraving choices.

We saw throughout the pandemic that families and loved ones turned to video calls to stay close and support one another, so this shift to presents fuelled by love and sentiment was definitely anticipated.

Whereas, since the restrictions have been easing and aspects of normal life have resumed, we have also seen growth in demand for personalised accessories to showcase consumers’ individuality.

Initial necklaces have long been a staple of high street accessories departments, however, there is now demand for more stylish, diverse pieces that consumers can add their name, birthday, star sign or even more specific information for a more unique final piece.

The desire for an entirely unique product can definitely be seen across other markets too, for example, in haircare where consumers can tailor all aspects of their shampoo and conditioner then have their name printed on the bottle.

Or footwear, where consumers can design all aspects of their shoes for an entirely individual pair.

We therefore see scope for further growth fuelled by these two significant trends, and would recommend assessing current business capabilities to accommodate both entry level product engraving, to full scale personalisation in order to capitalise on the demand.