Differences Between B2B and B2C Jewelry Marketing

On this blog, I devote most of my attention to the common marketing challenges that B2C (more specifically D2C) jewelry brands face. However, I realize I don’t give B2B jewelry brands enough attention! The marketing strategies that work for B2C jewelry brands don’t always work for B2B jewelry brands and vice versa. To complicate matters further, some jewelry brands are both B2C and B2B, so they’ll need to focus especially hard on segmenting their marketing efforts for both target audiences.

For any marketing strategy to be successful, a jewelry business must first define and understand its target audience – and that holds true for both B2C and B2B. While B2C jewelry brands sell to consumers (retail), B2B jewelry brands are those that sell to other businesses (wholesale). In a B2C scenario, a jewelry brand is targeting customers who are likely buying for pleasure, for function, or for gifting. On the other hand, in a B2B scenario, a jewelry brand is targeting customers who have one goal in mind: to sell the jewelry and make a profit. Within each of those customer groups is a myriad of personas, all with different budgets, buying habits, and personalities.

Personal vs. transactional relationships

One way that B2B marketing differs from B2C marketing is in the type of relationship the jewelry brand will want to build with the customer. This article from WordStream best explains the different approaches to relationship building by categorizing them as “transactional” and “personal”.

Recently, I walked into an independently-owned watch shop to have my grandma’s vintage watch resized and cleaned. I was in somewhat of a rush, so I wanted the shop to do the work quickly and for a fair price. I also wanted to feel confident that I could trust them with a family heirloom. I had never before visited this particular shop, so I relied on Yelp and my initial interaction with the clerk to help me determine whether or not I’d move forward with the transaction. Everything was positive: the shop had great reviews (social proof), the clerk promised a quick turnaround, the walls were lined with pictures of celebrities who had used the shop’s services (the shop is in Los Angeles), and I thought the quote was fair.

While I waited on site for the repair person to complete the work, I observed an interaction between a watch battery salesperson and the shop owner. The interaction seemed to have been pulled directly from another time, when B2B salespeople actually visited their clients’ stores, before the Internet. While the shop owner checked his watch battery inventory, the two men chatted about life like old friends, asking each other about family and mutual acquaintances. I got the sense they had known each other for a very long time. The shop owner seemed hesitant to order too much and was honest about the fact that he would be going downtown to the Jewelry District to buy some batteries in bulk (probably cheaper for him), but he put in a very small order with the salesperson.

Why do I share this story? I like to think it’s a good example of the difference between personal and transactional relationships. As the customer in a B2C interaction, I was hoping the shop could fulfill certain needs, and most of those needs revolved around the ease of transaction. As the observer of a B2B interaction between a shop owner and a salesperson, I noticed the success of that transaction revolved mostly around a personal relationship. Of course, personal relationships do matter for B2C customers, and transactional relationships matter for B2B consumers, but the emphasis on each will vary from one to the other. If you can remember this difference between personal and transactional when approaching your own marketing, whether you are a B2C or B2B jewelry brand, then you will be successful in your efforts.

Feeling vs. knowing

B2C customers rarely buy jewelry solely for its technical features, especially since most consumers typically don’t know enough about jewelry materials and manufacturing techniques to be that discerning about them. When B2C customers decide to make a purchase, they’re doing so because they’re caught up in a certain feeling, or they’re buying into a certain lifestyle.

For example, no one buys a diamond engagement ring solely because of the diamond’s carat weight, clarity, cut, and color. Of course, those things may play a role in helping a consumer choose between one diamond and another. However, a person buys a diamond engagement ring because of what it represents and how it will make the recipient feel when receiving it: loved, cherished, special, and worthy of such a thoughtful and expensive and meaningful gift.

On the other hand, B2B customers buy jewelry not because they’re moved by it but because they see potential in making a profit. Of course, many B2B jewelry buyers purchase jewelry because they like it. But they also want to know about the quality and origin of the materials, the manufacturing process, and more. As a result, B2B jewelry brands must use their marketing efforts as an opportunity to educate their customers rather than instill a certain feeling in them.

Accessible language vs. jargon

As I mentioned above, many B2C customers aren’t as informed about industry jargon as B2B buyers. While some B2C customers, perhaps those shopping for bridal jewelry, may know the difference between a claw prong and round prong, most will have no idea how to distinguish one from the other. They’ll simply know that they like how a piece of jewelry looks. As a result, you’ll want to speak in their language, using words that evoke feelings. For example, if you look at an engagement ring product description from a retailer like Tiffany & Co., you’ll find something like this: “Just as the sun’s rays radiate outward, casting light in every direction, so too does the Tiffany Soleste® engagement ring. With a scintillating halo of brilliant diamonds and a striking emerald-cut center stone featuring concentric rows of parallel facets, light is gathered and mirrored throughout the design, resulting in an unrivaled display of brilliance.” Of course, you’ll want to include the specs for your jewelry pieces, but you can leave those for the product details.

On the other hand, a B2B buyer likely doesn’t have time for figurative language and branded “fluff”. That person will want to cut to the chase and understand how your jewelry is different from your competitor’s jewelry in terms of durability, quality, and value. Specs, product options, style numbers, turnaround times, and prices are most important. For example, if you look at engagement ring semi-mounting product pages for B2B jewelry brands like Stuller, Overnight Mountings, and Quality Gold, you won’t see any product descriptions at all. You’ll simply see product renderings, a style number, and all the technical specs.

These are just a few ways that B2B marketing is different from B2C marketing for jewelry brands, but the goals for both are the same: to capture the customer’s attention, motivate the customer to buy, and to create long-lasting relationships. Given the customers’ differing goals and motivations, the approaches for reaching customers will vary.

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