Covid-19 has changed the rules of the jewellery sector
By Sunil Nayak
A year of the coronavirus pandemic is behind us. Between online conferences and virtual meet-ups, fashion connoisseurs have devised inventive ways to place their style front and centre in the ‘new normal’. From adorning all their ear piercings and stacking bracelets, to layering necklaces, fashionistas are learning new ways to elevate their everyday looks — and this isn’t even a recent phenomenon. However, jewellery behaves differently than most fashion purchases.
This attention towards jewellery — even during a global calamity — exists because it is a timeless purchase. It serves as a rewarding, uplifting and now, occasionally, also an affordable buy that will not decrease in value. Yet, the industry has not stayed untouched by the pandemic.
There has been an increasing demand for light and day-to-day pieces as they stand at the nexus between convenience, expressionism and affordability. Needless to say, they fit neatly into the ‘Zoom phenomenon’. While the trendy appeal of jewellery brands to millennial and Gen Z consumers plays a part in its exponential growth in 2020, brands’ strong digital presence can’t be ignored.
A report by MAD, a French consulting firm with a focus on luxury brands, stressed the need for the jewellery sector to rethink the ways in which it connects with consumers: from amping up online engagement to strategising an omnichannel approach to sales and engagement. At the other end of the spectrum, established jewellery retailers also took to the online channel for sales and customer engagement, by way of their e-commerce platform and social media channels. Retailers have seen an increase in e-commerce as well as offline sales during the holiday season, as it led to great brand recall. Jewellery brands with a much younger web presence have put in a lot of emphasis on omnichannel capabilities, which have contributed to the spike in sales and customer acquisitions.
The modern consumer is looking for personalised, chic designs that encapsulate their individuality; they seek pieces that help them stand out in the sea of digital faces that the pandemic has turned our interactions into. Brands have recognised these needs, and are mostly offering customised jewellery and introducing bespoke designer collections inspired by art, nature, geometry, heritage, etc.
Jewellery brands have adopted cutting-edge technology to replicate in-store experiences for customers — like the augmented reality experience, where consumers can see how the pieces they’re eyeing might look on them; or the virtual concierge services that help out with sizing options; or live chats and video calls to see how selected designs look on the store sales executive.
In fact, a survey last year by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development revealed that over 50% of their respondents expected to continue shopping online even after the virus recedes. However, the industry needs to go beyond online sales, and digitally revamp the end-to-end consumer experience. Today’s younger consumers are increasingly aware of contemporary global issues and brand ethics. Brands are now doing various activations online to interact and engage with their target consumers.
Even as vaccines against Covid-19 are being rolled out, jewellery brands must continue to bolster their online presence to keep up with digitally savvy consumers as well as the shifting shopping preferences. Offering online options while the pandemic still rages on shows that brands do care for their customers and want to ensure they have safe avenues through which they can engage with their favourite brands. Times are changing, and so are consumers’ needs: jewellery stands for more than glitter and shine.
The author is CEO at Reliance Jewels