||For Millennials, It's More About Personal Style Than Luxury
Name brands and luxury are still nice, but the latest generation to march down the aisle is all about making its wedding experience distinctive, memorable and personal.
Couples want their nuptials to reflect their particular story, and brands are adapting marketing campaigns to account for a new set of tastes and needs. Instead of traditional must-haves like engraved invitations or sit-down dinners, the millennials -- people generally in their 20s -- seek touches that showcase their interests and personal style.
The all-about-you brand approach can be found from the high-end jeweler Cartier, whose current slogan is "Your love is unique, so too should be your engagement ring," to the affordable Michaels craft stores, which this year expanded their do-it-yourself wedding projects, urging people to "Personalize your special day your way."
"It's all about self-expression. People are not so much saving money as they are showing their personal style," said Paula Puleo, chief marketing officer for Michaels, which gets 200,000 monthly visits to its wedding Web page.
"There has been a shift. People want something that is distinctively theirs," agreed Millie Martini Bratten, editor in chief of Brides magazine. "They want to make the experience meaningful for the guests and themselves."
Tapping into the personalization trend, the jewelry wholesaler Gottlieb & Sons decided to abandon its nationwide advertising approach and, instead, link up with independent jewelry stores with a campaign intended to raise the stores' profiles in their local markets -- where most couples still buy rings. Partner stores will decide on local print ads, outdoor advertising or only in-store ads.
Gottlieb, which is based in Cleveland, worked with the New York branding agency, Cult360, to create three ads it planned to introduce this month with the tagline, "Every Romance Has a Story. Wear Yours."
One ad features a ring with an Eiffel Tower design in diamonds. The copy tells the story of a couple in Paris for their first vacation after four years of dating. He pops the question, in embarrassing circumstances, but all ends well. The two other ads also feature romantic tales, one with diamonds in the shapes of bowling pins, and another with a guitar-shaped diamond.
Jeff Rothstein, a partner at Cult360, said "We found that millennials do not want to see themselves as buying into traditional norms. When a millennial sees a diamond, they are looking at the relationship -- for example, the Eiffel Tower where the proposal was made."
"People are looking for something different," said Jerry Gottlieb, the jewelry company's vice president for marketing, "and it's a challenge."
About two-thirds of couples have personal, or signature, elements in their weddings, said Carley Roney, editor and co-founder of TheKnot.com, a wedding Web site.
"These are children of baby boomers. They want to stand out, not just follow the rules."
One traditional item people are still buying, but adding their own twist to, is the engagement ring, which cost an average of $5,847 last year, according to a study by TheKnot.com and the WeddingChannel.com. One third of such rings are customized or personalized
Traditional jewelry outlets, buffeted by a bad economy, a decline in the number of marriages and Internet competition, are scrambling to hold on to this wedding staple. Jewelry stores are already coping with a decline in wedding band sales as fewer people buy into the fairytale brand promise -- with the gauzy and beautiful bride -- that the jewelry industry has traditionally marketed.
The millennials will account for more than 60 percent of all weddings by 2012, according to census figures. The age group also values marriage above careers and financial success, the Pew Research Center said in a February study, "Portrait of the Millennials." But they were raised with the Internet so they are accustomed to choice, which jewelers are trying to satisfy by offering wider choices of carats, precious metals, cuts or shape -- and control over the design.
Nina Carbone, 30, an interior designer in New York and recent bride, designed her ring, modeled after one her grandmother wore. "I wanted something modern, thinner but simple," she said. "I took my grandmother's idea and made it my own."
(Source: The New York Times, 11/02/10)
How You Can Make Money:
Jewelry stores are getting ready to kick into High Season, and that will last all the way through Mother's Day and Prom Season. One of the biggest hurdles for Radio and high-end jewelry stores is the perception that Radio isn't "elegant" enough as compared to glossy print mags, and believe it or not, billboards. But, with the right presentation, jewelers can become very interested in evening events. Partner with a caterer for hors d'oeuvres, a wine distributor, perhaps some other equal-scale retailers (like a travel agency) for some raffle items (like a cruise) to encourage turnout and create a browse-and-chat environment. Note also that there is a considerable amount of co-op in this category, particularly for high-end watches, pearls, and other items. These companies are often reluctant to list in a co-op directory, but your jewelry retailer can get the details from their vendors.
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