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Magazine > Fortune > News Content
Study: Today's Internet jewelry consumer
      9/13/2009 3:30:25 PM
Paso Robles, Calif.--MVI Marketing Ltd.'s consumer-research division, the Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council, has published a white paper defining the four faces of today's Internet jewelry consumer, as well as the opportunities jewelry retailers, brands and e-commerce Web sites have with each of these consumer types.

The Anti-Internet Shopper: These consumers are those aged 55 or older who never learned how to use a computer and still don't see the need or benefit of using one.

They know their favorite jeweler has a Web site, but they would never dream of using it. According to the JCOC study, a majority of this group (36 percent) prefer to see jewelry in person before making a purchase.

More than 20 percent of this group, however, will be purchasing on the Internet within five years, the JCOC says, mostly prompted by their family, peer pressure and convenience.

When this group does start using the Internet for shopping, the first place they will look to is retailers and brands they know and trust. Jewelry retailers, brands and e-tailers, therefore, should target their marketing toward the Baby Boomer generation, who, although buying less jewelry for themselves, are still buying jewelry gifts for others, according to the JCOC.

The other main Anti-Internet Shopper group is the non-office worker of any age. They do not have access to the Internet in their place of work and are not driven to make the Internet a part of their lives or work.

Twenty percent of this group will also start using the Internet to purchase within five years, according to the JCOC, and will be driven by members of their family, especially their children, who will desire and need the Internet at home.

At the beginning of their transition to becoming Internet consumers, they will rely heavily on their children to guide them on what to research and purchase.

Once this group does come online, they will become Internet purchasers rather quickly, the JCOC says. They will more than likely become price-sensitive shoppers and use the Internet for other product categories in addition to jewelry.

The Research Only Shopper: These consumers, male or female aged 40 and older, would never buy jewelry or watches on the Internet, but will research products and prices, then go to the brick-and-mortar location to look at the products in person.

This group is heavily price-sensitive, according to the JCOC, and has a tremendous fear of being ripped off in the jewelry-buying process. They tend to hold onto their emotional reaction to jewelry before they buy, but once in a store, they can be introduced to other products and sold based on their emotions, not price.

Many in this group enjoy the shopping experience. They often feel it is the American way to visit large shopping centers, malls and downtown plazas, seeing first-hand the massive amount to select from.

As with The Anti-Internet shopper, the Research Only shopper will succumb to peer pressure and aging and start buying more on the Internet. But jewelry will not be one of their first purchases, the JCOC says. In fact, it will take some years before they even consider it.

The Comfort Shopper: These consumers constitute the late Baby Boomer generation and early Generation X, 35-50 years of age, both male and female, with a greater emphasis on the Generation X females.

They're predominantly middle- to upper-income earners and live in sophisticated urban centers where they have regular access to both hi-speed Internet and multiple retail outlets and brands.

They know which retailers they like and trust and will buy from them in their stores or on their Web site.

The Comfort Shopper holds the most opportunity of all the four groups for retailers, according to the JCOC. If you can give them the same warm feeling on your Web site that they receive in your store, they will continue to buy from you.

There are two main steps to take in marketing to and cultivating The Comfort Shopper, the JCOC says:

First, they are probably your customers already and you need to be actively servicing them at all times, offering on your Web site what you can't offer in-store; for example:

  • 24-7 shopping.
  • The ability to pay on their house account at any time.
  • A larger selection based on the inventory of your major suppliers.
  • Targeted promotions.
  • A limited selection based on their loyalty and special status with you.
  • Special-event invitations.
  • Personalized thank you notes after purchases online.
  • Refer-a-friend gifts.

Your brick-and-mortar location should work hand-in-glove with your Web site to serve The Comfort Shopper, but be consistent between the two: Don't have one set of polices for the store, and another for the Web site.

Second, grow your customer base with help from the Internet. Begin with your current customers by introducing them to your Web site, and then expand this effort by finding similar consumers, perhaps in local clubs, businesses and community groups.

Profile your current customers by asking them where they go on the Internet, what they like on the Internet and what they don't like. Ask them about what you should be offering them and how can you build more loyalty among their friends and peers.

Finally, build and maintain your presence on the Internet both through your main site and other niche sites. Promote yourself regularly via social networking, e-mail newsletters, advertising, PR, blogs, search engine placements, etc.

The Internet-Only Shopper: Also known as The Millennial Generation, Gen Y or Generation Next, this group's birthdates range from the mid 1970s to the 1990s. They are the next generation of consumers and a powerful force to be reckoned with because of their numbers and shopping habits to date.

The Internet Only Shopper goes to the Internet first to help them decide and then buy what they want. They have little to no retailer loyalty and will only go to a brick-and-mortar store as a final option, according to the JCOC. To many Internet Only Shoppers, it is all about price, and there is not much any jewelry retailer, brand or e-commerce Web site can do to change that. In a few years, however, selection or trust might be their most important value driver.

Retailers need to stand out now in the crowd of other Web sites; otherwise, don't waste your time and money trying to compete for the Internet Only Shopper, the JCOC says. To that end, perhaps retailers should focus on the green or fair trade movements, as this group is keen on related causes with the brands and Web sites they frequent.

Retailers should also compete on a per-item basis. For example, if your store is popular in your area, and your local Internet Only Shopper would recognize your name, then you could promote a lost leader on the Internet.

Another tactic is to ask younger staffers to help you target the Internet Only Shopper. Their insight, energy and innovation might assist you in capturing small segments of the group.

Also, be careful not to alienate your current customers, the JCOC says. To avoid this, e-mail the offer to them first, then advertise it. When your current customers see the ad, they will know you went out of your way to give it to them first.

It is also critical that retailers prevent their Comfort Shoppers from becoming Internet Only Shoppers. To avoid this, the JCOC says retailers must identify and cater to their Comfort Shoppers with special service, products and pricing to ensure they stay locked in as they age.

The JCOC, a division of MVI Marketing Ltd., is an Internet-based, niche-market research service exclusive to the gem and jewelry industries. It is composed of a sampling panel of consumers throughout North America representing all ages, genders, income levels, buying categories and geographic regions.

For more information about the JCOC, visit its Web site,
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