Jewelry Marketing for a Post-COVID-19 FutureLaryssa
Since late March, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking, reading, writing, and speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on retail in general and the jewelry industry in particular. We’ve also spoken to many industry experts and have watched many webinars on the subject, in an effort to gain some clarity and better serve our clients.
Now that businesses are slowly starting to reopen, and life is regaining at least some hints of normalcy, we’re trying to imagine the post-COVID-19 future. How will consumers’ shopping habits change, and how will jewelry brands need to position themselves in the marketplace to meet consumers’ needs and expectations? We’re certainly not holding the crystal ball, but we have a few ideas, which we’ll share in this blog post.
First, you’ll need to understand how long it will take for the economy to recover. New research from management consultancy Bain & Company shows how the pandemic will continue to affect the luxury industry. They’ve found a decrease in consumer confidence and less willingness to spend, two realities that are expected to continue into 2021 and beyond. As a jewelry brand, you won’t be able to shake consumer doubts, but you will be able to communicate with your audience in an understanding and empathetic way. Continue to focus your efforts on building meaningful relationships with customers and earning their trust over time through consistency, reliability, and responsiveness.
We feel confident that consumers’ shopping habits are going to change in four major ways: they’re going to spend more money at businesses in their local communities, they’re going to feel even more comfortable shopping online, they’re going to care more about meaningful luxury, and they’re going to gravitate toward direct-to-consumer brands when they do shop online.
Many consumers have seen first-hand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses on a local level. As a result, they’re feeling more inclined to spend their dollars locally, so they can maintain the economic health of their communities. If you’re a jewelry business owner who already has ties to your local community, then now’s definitely the time to start seeking meaningful ways to interact with community members. Host an event if possible, partner with another local business on a promotional effort, five back to a local community organization, or offer special discounts to people who live in your city or town.
Soon, consumers will have the option to patronize brick-and-mortar stores again. However, they won’t all be jumping at the opportunity to do so. Instead, many will be more inclined to stay at home and do their shopping online. In addition, they may have gotten used to the convenience of ecommerce shopping and delivery, which has dominated their lives for the past two months. Online shopping definitely wasn’t abnormal before the coronavirus outbreak, but I believe it will become the new normal, especially for the Boomer generation. Alternatively, consumers will seek buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) options, so they can shop from the comfort of their home and then quickly pick up in store with minimal in-person interaction.
Next, consumers are going to care more about meaningful luxury and gravitate toward brands that freely share their purpose and value. Consumers are feeling as vulnerable as they are altruistic, and they want to feel like they’re getting more out of a non-essential purchase than simply buying something new. For example, according to a recent article from Business of Fashion, “The brands that have developed a clear sustainability strategy will be better placed to win with consumers when the crisis subsides.” If you’re a sustainable brand, then you want to focus on communicating that more clearly and placing more emphasis on it. If you support a cause or non-profit, then now’s the time to start telling that part of your brand story.
Finally, direct-to-consumer brands will have their time to shine. With more consumers shopping online, they’ll be likely to stumble across new direct-to-consumer brands that currently only have ecommerce storefronts. In addition, as I mentioned consumers are seeking alternatives: brands with local roots and brands with meaning. If you’re a direct-to-consumer ecommerce jewelry brand, then now’s definitely the time to seize the opportunity and make a splash with your brand. As long as you’ve done everything you can to refine your branding and optimize your website, then the right customers will find you. You need to be ready to meet them where they are.
Why is planning your marketing strategy for a post-COVID-19 future so important, and how can you lay a marketing foundation now, so you’re prepared when customers are ready to buy? Today’s jewelry businesses will need to do everything they can do to stimulate and maintain consumer interest while also being completely transparent about any business hiccups or setbacks during the transition. They’ll also need to be flexible and remain open to change, focus on the customer experience, leave marketing to the experts, and brainstorm SMART marketing goals.
You’ll want to be flexible and pivot away from marketing strategies that may have worked well for you in the past but aren’t working anymore, due to extenuating circumstances. For example, event marketing plays a major role in many jewelry brands’ marketing strategies; they depend on pop-ups, trunk shows, trade shows, shop-in-shops, and more to get in front of their customers and interact with those customers in person. It’s uncertain how long event marketing will be placed on hold. Instead, they should reinvest those marketing dollars into an alternative method of reaching new customers and engaging existing ones. You’ll need to embrace change during this time and remain open to new possibilities.
Make customer experience the center of all your efforts. What we mean by customer experience is all the ways that a customer interacts with your brand, from social media and your website to the shipping/packaging experience and any subsequent customer service follow-up after the purchase. Today’s consumers crave a more personalized marketing experience; they want to be delivered ads that are uniquely tailored to their shopping habits, and they want to receive promotions and recommendations that are relevant to their preferences. You can offer that by using retargeting technology in ads, personalizing email communication, and more. In addition, you can improve the customer experience with your social media marketing by being highly responsive and engaged with your followers, viewing social media as both a marketing platform and customer service portal.
If you’ve been handling social media and marketing yourself or passing it off to an intern without consulting a true marketing expert, then now is definitely the ideal time to invest in help from a professional who understands the nuances of marketing and knows how to adjust a marketing strategy during a critical time. You simply can’t remain on autopilot and expect to continue business as usual. Instead, you must adopt a nimble new strategy, one that can change and evolve day by day. If you’re the brand who’s been diligently planning your marketing strategy weeks or even months in advance, great work! However, now is probably the time to abandon that plan and save it for when the world isn’t so chaotic.
Finally, you’ll want to brainstorm some SMART goals not only for your marketing but for your business. To set your SMART marketing goal, you’ll want to be Specific about what you want to accomplish, determine how you’ll want to Measure and assess your progress, keep the goal Attainable, make the goal Relevant to your overall business goals and target customer, and ensure the goal is Time-Based. One example of a SMART jewelry marketing goal is, “Within the next six months, we’d like to grow our email marketing list by 25% in order to maintain relationships with new customers and inform them of upcoming promotions.” The goals you set at the beginning of the year may no longer be relevant – revisit them.
Which marketing initiatives should you be prioritizing now, and how can you invest your marketing budget most effectively? I’ll mention three here that we’ve covered in depth in other blog posts/podcast episodes: video marketing, SEO, and content marketing.
Video marketing definitely tops my list. Only time will tell how long people will want to interact with each other in person. As a result, businesses and consumers will continue to lean on video as a form of communication. Start small with Facebook and Instagram Live. In case you haven’t noticed, everyone’s doing it, and they’re not overly concerned about production quality – they’re just trying to connect. If you’re looking for tips, check out my post on Instagram Live ideas or listen to my interview with video marketer Owen Cappellini.
There’s no better time than now to focus on Search Engine Optimization strategy. You can start by performing an SEO audit, conducting an SEO competitive analysis, choosing some target keywords, and pursuing some SEO quick wins. Literally every brand can always do better at SEO, since it’s an ongoing process with many moving parts. Luckily, there are a ton of great tutorials online and many excellent tools like Moz and SEMRush that can make the process easy and painless. Or, you can hire me to devise a marketing strategy for you or even coach you through the process.
Finally, content marketing is one of the best ways for brands to actively engage with customers without interacting with them face to face. Not only can content help you generate new leads from people who may suddenly have turned attention to online shopping, but it can also entertain and engage your past customers, who still need distraction, familiarity, and positivity right now, even as the world is transitioning. Try firing up your blog with fresh, new content or creating a downloadable ebook catalogue.
To tie everything together and truly futureproof your brand, you’ll need to stop ignoring the importance of omnichannel sales and marketing and embrace it. The COVID-19 crisis has made it clear that omnichannel can no longer be seen as a crisis strategy; instead, it’s a future strategy. Today’s consumers are empowering themselves; they have access to so much information at their fingertips, and they can make confident buying decisions. Many of these consumers will continue to work remotely and sometimes not even during “regular” business hours, so you need to be able to meet them where they are. Omnichannel unites all your channels into one seamless “superstore”, so a customer can easily click “purchase” no matter where they find you and get the same customer experience that they would on any other channel.
How do you feel about the post-COVID-19 future? Are you prepared or uncertain? While it’s true that no one truly knows how consumers will respond in the next few months or even years, you can definitely invest in the marketing strategies that will help you create meaningful and lasting relationships while meeting customers where they are instead of telling them how to find you.