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You Ask, We Answer Part 2 of 3: Questions from Jewelry Brands About Coronavirus and the Jewelry Industry

I recently invited my clients and Instagram followers to submit their questions about running a jewelry business in the time of coronavirus. This post is part two of a (so far) three-part series, and I’ll be answering three questions at a time. Click here to read part one. If you’d still like to submit a question, you can always email me, and I’ll do my best to answer it.

How will consumers’ shopping habits change after the quarantine period?

I foresee consumers’ shopping habits changing in three 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, and they’re going to support mostly direct-to-consumer brands when they do shop online.

We can watch the news to see how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting the world, but we relate to it most when we experience the effects within our local communities, since it hits us on an emotional level. We notice our favorite restaurants and local shops closing. I know that I’m personally doing everything I can to support my favorite local businesses because I don’t want them to disappear after all this is over; I’m ordering goods online when possible and getting food delivered to my home. I’ve noticed many of my friends and neighbors are doing the same, and I think that sentiment will continue at least through the rest of this year. As a jewelry business owner, if you already have an identity within your local community, then now’s definitely the time to start connecting with your community members and supporting them. They will support you in return.

Of course, many consumers are now shopping online in order to avoid going to the store. Online shopping definitely wasn’t abnormal before the coronavirus outbreak, but I believe it will become the new normal, especially for the Boomer generation. As consumers begin to fully embrace and realize the convenience of online shopping, they will be more likely to shop for something online first before they go to the store. Alternatively, they will seek buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) options, so they can shop their products from the comfort of their home and conveniently pick up their order while running errands or commuting home from work. Now that many people are realizing how annoying it can be to run to the store and not find many things that you need (I’m looking at you, toilet paper), they want to check inventory or research their best options before wasting their time.

Finally, direct-to-consumer brands will have the opportunity 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. According to a blog post from AdRoll, “Brands like No. 2 (which sells toilet paper directly to consumers) are seeing a major lift from coronavirus. As consumers shift more of their spending from in-person to online, D2C brands are likely to get a significant boost. It may be enough to fully transition these brands from quirky underdogs to major household names.” Personally, I know that I’ve shopped direct-to-consumer in the past month more than I have in recent memory, buying things like candles and honey directly from the businesses that make them instead of relying on Amazon. With many of the major ecommerce players posting shipping delays and losing stock of essential and even nice-to-have items, it’s sometimes better to go to the source. 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.

How should jewelry brands approach social responsibility during this time? How can I let my customers know that I’ll be donating proceeds from my sales to a nonprofit organization?

The best way for any brand to approach social responsibility is through transparency and sincerity. If you don’t feel compelled to give back in some way for whatever reason (no judgement), then don’t force the gesture because today’s customers are savvy and can see through disingenuousness. However, if you do feel genuinely motivated to give back by donating a portion of your profits, by manufacturing and donating masks and hand sanitizer, or by doing anything else, then you definitely should not hesitate.

The best way to let your customers know that you’ll be donating a portion of your sales to a nonprofit organization is to communicate with them across multiple platforms: through social media, on video, in email marketing, on your website, or in a blog post. If you’re going to be supporting a lesser-known organization, then you’ll want to provide some background information to increase consumer trust. In your communications, you’ll want to be completely transparent about your actions and the motivation behind them. In addition, you’ll want your message to come from the heart and soul of your brand. Forget what you think you should be saying and say what you feel instead.

For example, my client Julie Lamb has decided to donate 25% of her sales to two different organizations: a global organization called UN Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO and a local organization called The NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund. Customers have the opportunity to decide which organization they’d like to support, if they have a preference. Julie filmed a short video of herself describing why she chose these two organizations; she shared this video in a blog post, on her Instagram, and on YouTube. I noticed that many other jewelry designers are opting to donate to an organization called No Kid Hungry. I simply Googled the phrase “brands give back during coronavirus” and got a plethora of responses, so there’s no shortage of examples for you to follow.

If now is the first time you’re really considering social responsibility, then I invite you to dig even deeper. Ask yourself questions like, “In general, how can we operate more ethically?” and “How can we make this part of our brand identity?”

How can jewelry brands promote a non-essential product without seeming insensitive, and how can you sell jewelry without a hard sell?

The answer is simple: don’t sell. Instead, focus on building community and taking the time to truly step into your brand identity, which is the personality of your business, the same way your personality is the intangible essence of you. So how does your brand identity respond in times of pressure and uncertainty? How does it care for its customers and its local community? How can it inspire and motivate others, breathing positivity into the world? Without asking anyone to buy from you, your brand can be its true self, which will attract the right consumers. Even if they’re not able to buy from you right now, they will continue to hover in your orbit and buy when the time is right. Believe that your brand can shine and that it can be a force for good.