Guardian Brands represents jewellery brand Angel Whisperer by Engelsrufer.

Here, both retailers and director, Stewart Arvan, have their say on what makes Angel Whisperer and Guardian Brands the gold standard in jewellery.

Do you feel the events of the past year have redefined what it truly means to be innovative in the jewellery industry?

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It was very apparent that retailers had become very discerning when engaging with new suppliers during the past year. Retailers were putting their faith in the brands they had and did not have the appetite for something new and the listing of a relatively unknown brand.

We ran a high-profile campaign over the lockdown months, with the focus being on the emotional connections the brand has to offer.

Our customer base tripled from pre- to post-lockdown due to the unique positioning of the brand and the 360-degree marketing support we offered our customers. They say retail is detail and that is exactly what we brought to market.

Through aggressive and innovative marketing and being 100% focused on marketing one brand, we were able to grow the business substantially.

Brands that you distribute, such as Angel Whisperer for instance, are highly focused on creating magical and long-lasting emotional connections with customers. How easily does that resonate with customers in the current climate?

It became very evident during the first lockdown that Angel Whisperer resonated with the UK jewellery industry.

The consistent feedback we have had from our jewellers is that their customers are really connecting with the emotional sentiments of the brand and the wide assortment of unique collections offered.

Some of the comments received from jewellers which illustrates this point come from:

Carla Vickers, GM Grace & Co

“Customers often buy Guardian Angel products in memory of someone they have lost. These Guardian Angels or Angel wings have also made great gifts for children going off to university – people like to feel their Guardian Angel is looking over them and their loved ones.”

 Jo Stroud, owner, Fabulous Jewellers in Leamington Spa

“We had stocked Engelsrufer for a number of years through its previous distributor, but sales had really slowed down for us. Since Stewart Arvan took it on, under his Guardian Brands distributorship, the brand has gone from strength to strength.

“Even during lockdown 2.0, we had some strong sales online, and since re-opening, the Power Stones collection has been flying. In the short time since the store re-opened, sales are up by 182% on the same period last year.”

Jo Bourne, general manager, TA Henn Jewellers

“We have recently launched Angel Whisperer in store and have fallen in love with all the products and collections.

“The story behind the brand and the collections really helps our customers make that emotional purchase, and all the support that Stewart and his team give us with display and marketing means that the brand has already received fantastic feedback and sales. We look forward to continuing the success.”

Helen Molloy – Owner Forum Jewellers

“Angel Whisperer is currently outselling our other silver brands because of the emotional meanings clearly showed on display, its sells itself.

“Our customers love it especially as when they purchase the item it comes with a scroll with the message so when they gift the recipient knows the thought that has gone into the purchase.”

You have previously said that brands are more likely to concentrate on their true DNA and less on changing winning formulas during the current climate. Could that be a barrier to innovation – or is it simply the logical thing to do?

The DNA of the brand has always been focused on the ‘Angel Whisperer’ and the protection that this collection offers the end consumer.

Over the years the number of collections has increased but the brand has never strayed from its true DNA.

The path going forward will be to introduce new styles to the current successful categories and to continually introduce new collections that offers the end consumer something unique but always true to its DNA.

We have had lockdowns, tiers, restrictions on retail – how have you aimed to maintain communication and support of your customer base during such changing times?

We have kept in touch via phone and email, ringing for a catch up and making sure our jewellers have everything at their disposal for them to continue trading online.

We share all our social media posts along with other marketing material they may wish to use and offer further support should they require it with sales analysis, bespoke marketing, and promotional incentives. Our focus has been very much on service, service and service.

How clear is your product roadmap for 2021? Do you have a firm plan of what it looks like – or is it likely to evolve as the year develops?

We had a preview of the 2021 collection towards the end of last year and managed to visit several our jewellers for feedback.

Based on the comments and feedback received we placed our initial orders to Germany.

Our philosophy has always been to work hand-in-hand with our retailers as they have a far better understanding of what their customers will buy.

The new collection will see the brand maintain its brand ideology of selling emotional stories.

A number of new categories will be introduced and plenty of new styles added to our already winning collections. Mix-and-match and the linking of collections will be very apparent for all to see.

Many retailers have had to increase their online capabilities over the past year. How well do your brands suit ecommerce and are you doing anything different to support this route to market?

Angel Whisperer, as mentioned previously, has been well accepted online. We are supporting our jewellers with as much sales information as we can, as well as offering help with the design of their web banners, bespoke adverts and sharing their social media posts where we can.

We have also created a resource folder for them to access all previous social media posts, lifestyle images and product images to help create their own marketing material if they wish to do so.

The feedback to all these social media campaigns has been nothing short of remarkable and has proved how well the brand is suited to ecommerce.

We are not only selling high quality and beautifully grafted jewellery but product that provides the end consumer with hope & security.

Are there any other industries that the jewellery sector could benefit from looking at or taking inspiration from when it comes to innovation?

An industry that has taken more knocks than most has been the leisure industry and in particular restaurants.

I have spent the past month in Cape Town and have been absolutely blown away by how innovative the food industry has become despite the lockdown and ban on alcohol.

The profit lies in turning over tables and the high margins made on alcohol.

Most of these restaurants remain open through innovative dishes, exciting offers, and promotions but most importantly through outstanding customer service.

I have no doubt that our industry will grow from strength to strength through working hand in hand with one another.

To survive all it takes is to serve a recipe that will bring delight to our end consumers. That recipe is service and innovation.

Do you feel that retailers are looking for the same sort of support and innovation from you as in the past? Or will 2021 herald a change in the dynamics of supplier and partner relationships?

I feel there has already been a shift in dynamics over the last few months, we have built stronger relationships with our jewellers, having all been faced with the same struggles, emotions and worry over the past year, we have more of a sense of unity and understanding of one another.

I think being completely transparent has helped, letting our jewellers know we are here for them no matter what has built a bond and formed a trust between us, enabling them to come to us for anything they may need, including staff incentives, extended payment terms and bespoke window displays.

Our success is based on working with our retailers as partners through regular engagements, problem solving and innovative ideas and to growing our respective businesses.

2021 will be challenging but there is light at the end of the tunnel.