Natalie Massenet was told it would never work. People would never buy luxury clothing and accessories online, ever.
But she created Net-A-Porter anyway, and of course, she was right. She is now Dame Natalie Massanet, awarded for services to the fashion and retail industries in the 2016 New Year Honours. Bec Astley Clarke was told the very same thing about buying fine jewellery online – but created Astley Clarke anyway. And in December 2013 was awarded an MBE for services to jewellery by Her Royal Majesty the Queen.
So you see – it’s happening. Overall growth in the global jewellery market is being fuelled by this very same shift to e-commerce. According to Research and Markets, the market is growing at a rate of 5% every year, and while the online fine jewellery market currently accounts for only 4%–5% of this, growth is expected to accelerate and capture 10% of the market by 2020.
Despite significant growth, jewellery purchases remain occasional and centered around special occasions and milestones – a rare opportunity for the average consumer to delve into the luxury market. While traditionally, most jewellery brands do not sit in the ‘everyday purchases’ bracket, the tide is slowly beginning to change – albeit with a little marketing budget to help make it happen.
Influencers are an incredibly powerful way to normalise jewellery purchases and self-gifting – interestingly not just using their influential faces, but sometimes their voices too. Such is the power and sway of GOOP’s twice-weekly podcast, the voices of its hosts Gwyneth Paltrow and GOOP’s chief content officer Elise Loehnencan give diamonds – not just a brand but the entire category – their seal of approval. The Diamond Producers Association recently began to work with the lifestyle empire to help shift outdated, arguably patriarchal behaviours of diamond procurement across all their platforms – from ads spoken by the podcast hosts, to ‘Everyday Diamonds’ shopping edits on the GOOP website itself.
There is of course still space – and appetite – for content created by influencers centred around special occasions, milestones and gifting. Some of the most engaged pieces of social content on the internet have been perfectly shot lavish proposals, intimate wedding videos and emotional birthday celebrations. What influencers offer in the jewellery space is unique: they are everyday people with the star power of celebrities, who live relatively ordinary lives but with a side helping of glamour. An intoxicating combination which can be leveraged to connect brands with their consumers. It’s no surprise that one of the biggest jewellery trends forcast for 2019 was personalisation, given that influencers inspire the aspiration for individuality.
We recently worked with Fenton & Co, a brand that stands out in the luxury jewellery sector for its beautiful pieces and passionate mission to make the whole industry more transparent, accountable and accessible. Working with Fenton & Co and a team of young male influencers, we were able to engage with their audiences and breach the target market who were young men potentially shopping around for engagement rings. Since influencers share their lives with the world via social platforms, we used social listening to select talent online with long term partners who could open up about their relationships and talk freely about the process of choosing a ring. In doing this, we demonstrated the bespoke nature of the design process, showing Fenton & Co in a truly authentic way as the go-to brand for celebrating life’s special moments.
Another hugely powerful jewellery campaign this month saw the third #LucyWilliamsxMissoma collaboration between fashion influencer Lucy Williams and Missoma. Williams and London-based Missomabegan working together in 2014 but this – the 1987 collection – has been the most successful in terms of noise and cut-through so far. Why? It is her most personal, individual one so far, giving her followers and the brand’s customers an intimate insight into her life. The 1987 collection is based on her mother’s own jewellery box full of 80s treasures like gold hoops and twisted gold chain necklaces. Her launch party? A 1986 themed dinner featuring a tablescape decorated with polaroid pictures from the campaign shoot, CD cases, mixtapesand stacks of her own 1980s Vogue Magazines. A truly personal, unique seal of approval from one of fashion’s most influential Instagram stars.
Another USP that influencers hold as a jewellery industry marketing tool, is their built-in ability to track the impact of a brand’s investment. Take for example Daniel Wellington who has heavily invested in influencers since launching in 2011 and built a community of 4.7 million followers on Instagram. Each influencer the brand partners with has a unique discount code whereby Daniel Wellington can track the success of each influencer when it comes to driving new customers and purchases. For a brand that markets almost entirely digitally, this ability to track success is imperative to discerning which influencers to partner with.
Given the long-held status of jewellery as a luxury purchase, brands are often unwilling to offer discount codes as incentive to influencers’ followers for fear of cheapening the perception of the brand, or turning people away from purchasing full price product. Whilst this might be a downside for jewellery brands working in a competitive space, a huge upside of marketing socially is that brands can still track performance regardless of whether they implement discount codes, measuring influencers’ swipe-up affiliate links on Stories. Enabling this connection means brands can still monitor site visits, sales, new customers, even down to details such as credit versus cash payments. The fact that jewellery brands that don’t implement discount codes are still so successful in the social space suggests that the stories influencers tell behind the actual content are of paramount importance, regardless of whether the content sits on YouTube, Instagram Stories or IGTV.
Thoughtful, really bespoke gifting has been another successful way for brands to work with influencers on their social channels without embarking on a sponsorship contract or officially collaborating. From zodiac-sign birthday gifts to Monica Vinader’s baby name engraved bangles for new mothers, these presents can be used as a helpful catalyst for influencers to make announcements or share personal milestones on their channels. Without the pressure of doing so within a pre-arranged partnership.
Right now, we sit in a window of golden opportunity for digitally native jewellery brands. Consumers are happy to shop online – especially within the luxury market – which will only impact the growth of global jewellery sales positively. Now is the time for jewellery brands to capitalise on this opportunity by coming up with innovative ways to stand out from the crowd. Similarly, as the world becomes more socially and environmentally conscious, brands that can adapt to working with influencers known for their dedication to sustainability and social responsibility will likely be the ones who come out on top. The most memorable influencer campaigns are always the most authentic, so just as adaptability to the industry trends is important, so is staying true to yourself as a brand, by picking influencers who match your values and fit your audience demographic. We always recommend to work with influencers that harness their own personality and experiences in a way that tells your brand’s story, as well as their own.
If you’re a jewellery brand looking to pop the partnership question to an influencer, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org we’ll help you plan the proposal!