Guardian Brands is a jewellery distribution specialist, representing brands such as Angel Whisperer from Engelsrufer. The company’s director, Stewart Arvan, spoke with Professional Jeweller about what has kept the brand ticking over during the recent pandemic and what makes it a cut above the competition.
What does innovation mean to you and what part does it play in your company culture?
Innovation means thinking outside the box and taking calculated risks.
Challenging the thought process of what had been done in the past, focusing on new ideas and strategies that benefit our retail partners is what will ultimately bring success to all parties, as well as not being afraid to implement change.
In what ways are you innovating from a product or design perspective at the moment?
Our belief is that there is room for all brands, if marketed correctly, to succeed. Angel Whisperer products are timeless, and our focus is always on the story that we present.
The innovation in our designs is to create magical and long-lasting emotional connections with our customers. The collections tell their own stories through classic designs, all with a symbolic touch.
The world changed overnight this year and our design of product, backed up by a strong emotional campaign, is more sought after now than ever.
What are the key influences when it comes to new product development and do you see these changing?
With 2020 being a year like no other, it is more important now than ever to focus on consistency and maintain a product that our customers feel comfortable with.
We will build on our success stories and continue to expand on introducing new collections with emotional meanings. That is the true DNA of the brand.
We have been very fortunate to have increased our customer base substantially over the past two months.”
How do you seek to differentiate yourselves from competitors?
At the end of the day all brands are looking for a point of difference and that is what makes this industry so dynamic and exciting.
Brands are continuously reinventing themselves through the introduction of new trends and collections and launching exciting marketing campaigns.
Our focus is very much on introducing new collections, each with a unique emotional story. The beauty of selling this jewellery, lies within each personalised story. An instant connection is made between salesperson and customer through the DNA of the brand – a brand that offers strength trust, and love.
Innovation can also occur from a non-design perspective, for example through technology changes, marketing and customer support. Is there anything innovative you have been doing for retailers in this regard?
Despite the negativity of Covid, we have been very fortunate to have increased our customer base substantially over the past two months.
This has led to the recent appointment of a full-time and dedicated marketing and customer support position, offering our retail partners the hands-on support we stand by.
Our comprehensive share-folder is updated on a continues basis and has all the brand assets to support our retailers.
It has been a challenging year for the industry. What sort of impact do you expect this to have on future innovation?
I believe brands will concentrate more now than ever on there true DNA and less on changing winning formulas.
Feedback from jewellers is very much aligned and staying with trusted and winning formulas.
Both parties are risk averse so getting back to basics and proven winners will prevail. New offers must eliminate the fear of failure.
How has the pandemic affected your business strategy and what’s your main focus now?
The pandemic has, in a very strange way, been very good for the business. Our strategy has always been to focus on the meaning of the brand. and this is more apparent now than ever.
Our marketing and POS material has been improved with stronger messages for consumers to engage and understand the true meaning behind the brand.
The pandemic has, in a very strange way, been very good for the business.”
What is the key to successful partnerships between suppliers and retailers – do you think the needs of both parties are changing as the industry becomes accustomed to a ‘new normal’?
We have always believed in true partnerships. As our core mission statement says, “Connections and Collaboration” are the key to brand success.
As we are not able to visit our customer as much as we would like to, it has become imperative that we support our customers through regular communication, whether by phone, Zoom or email.
We collaborate with our jewellers by assisting them in analysing sales, reviewing their marketing strategies, and offering incentives.
Ultimately, we believe in partnering with our customers so that together we can make sound business decisions that benefit both parties.
Key is trust and putting your customers interests first. We do not judge our business on sell-in but only sell-thru.
A successful and happy customer is our lifeline and we will not deviate from that.