Last week I had the largest sale in the history of our company: a three platinum rings wedding and engagement set. The customer, who found us on line, said he purchased from us specifically because of our “progressive eco-values.” He lives in a very affluent California town. I was happy to make this sale, but also sad for the industry as a whole that there were no jewelers in his area that could meet his standard.
I remember a few years ago all the articles in the jewelry trade publications saying that the internet would never replace brick and mortar. Many independents waited too long to get their own website. It is not too late, but it is extremely difficult and costly to get good rankings.
Now, we have a similar situation. Eco, Fair Trade jewelry is just beginning, just as the internet was ten years ago. It is a huge (“Blue Ocean”) opportunity. Martin Rapaport said “it has the potential to be the luxury brand of the future.”
I am the type of customer who factors in personal values into their shopping decisions. I would want my wedding band or pair of earrings that I chose for me wife to be beautifully made by artisans who are treated well. The gem would have to be fair trade mined and cut.
Here are some steps to help you get on board now with customers who share these concerns. It is a process that requires time and commitment. However, if you are sincerely interested in these issues, you can easily put together enough information to close the sale on a customer, and begin a major initiative that will leave your competition in the 20th century.
Follow these steps to provide the customer wanting socially responsible jewelry now!
1.) Have a discussion with your sales staff around issues of socially responsible, eco, fair trade jewelry.
Explain how this new movement presents a great opportunity. Find at least one or two people who are truly passionate around these concerns and brainstorm.
The critical issue to begin with is passion. Initial steps are not that difficult. Many steps are easy and do not require a lot of initial investment and articles on this blog will tell you how to start.
Without follow though, you will only be “green washing” which is worse than doing nothing at all.
2. Start with the low hanging fruit.
Recycling is easy and does not cut into your bottom line. Purchasing recycled office paper costs a just little bit more. Switch to compact fluorescent lights and purchase green energy if it is available. Setting up these things only takes a few hours. .
3. Go zero carbon.
It might cost between fifty and a hundred dollars a month, but it is the right thing to do. As an environmentalist, if I walked into your store and you showed me that you were paying for carbon offsets that would probably be enough to convince me that you are real. Sale closed.
4. Offer Fair Trade gemstones.
This costs nothing. All you need is a list of the gems that you can get. You can call and order them for the customer’s approval. The second step involves more work: trace the sources of your gemstones, finding out where things are made and what the labor and environmental conditions of the mines actually are. As a customer, I would be very impressed if you could provide a document that states where your gemstones come from.
5. Purchase jewelry from a Fair Trade manufacturer or an American manufacturer.
It may not be possible, within the context of sound economics, to have all your jewelry from these sources, but certainly you can get some jewelry for customers who are concerned about these things. If they are American, ask them if they use recycled metal.
6. Have a very clear diamond strategy based on full disclosure.
Canadian diamonds are an option and much has already been written about this. As a customer, I would be really impressed; however, if you said that you were donating a part of every diamond sale to the fund…. (Like Brilliant Earth for example….)
7. After you have done all these things, create a sheet of your unique selling points (USP).
List all that you do. This will be of use for all the sales people.
8. Have transparency and full disclosure around any issue that comes up.
Explain that you are working toward improving, which takes time. If you do not know about something of concern with the customer, just say you do not know offer to conduct research.
9. Have at least one person on the floor that specialize in these issues.
When there’s a customer like me, direct me to the expert. I am going to feel their passion as they answer my questions. This will convince me that the initiative and your company is real.
10. Market yourself and exploit your competitive advantage.
Look particularly for small publications that do not cost a lot and target the audience that have the demographics. Here are some good key words for the ad: “fair trade gems” “green,” “eco,” “socially responsible,” and “locally owned.”
Marc Choyt is President of Reflective Images, www.celticjewelry.com, a jewelry company that practices socially responsible business.Marc authors www.fairjewelry.org a movement website for consumers and jewelers supporting green and fair trade jewelry. He also originated The Circle Manifesto, www.circlemanifesto.com, a business model based on indigenous traditions.