Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jewerly Spakles this Holiday Season

The economic recession devastated the American luxury market, that’s no surprise. What is a surprise is the increased demand this season for perhaps the most quintessential luxury item: jewelry.

Some encouraging stats:

-The percentage of people who bought jewelry during “Black Friday Weekend”, Nov. 26-28, increased from 11.7 percent to 14.3 percent. That is close to a three percent increase.

-In a recent study from the National Retail Federation, the percentage of people saying they will be giving jewelry as gifts has increased from 18.4 percent to 20.3 percent.

-According to “Cotton Lifestyle Monitor” jewelry is ranked at number five as planned holiday gifts in 2010. Jewelry didn’t rank at all in 2009.

The jewelry industry may not draw out the 2 a.m. crowd on Black Friday, but the increase in jewelry sales this past weekend was felt immediately by both retailers and designers. It also helped spark optimism for the economy and retail sales in general.

“While Black Friday weekend is not always an indicator of holiday season performance, retailers should be encouraged that a focus on value and discretionary gifts has shoppers in the spirit to spend,” said Matthew Shay, National Retail Federation, president and CEO.

Looking at the bigger picture, the fact that people are looking at jewelry a lot more this holiday season could mean that American’s are ready to start spending on luxury items in general again. It might be possible that this is the first sign of the recession being a part of the past.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stich up the wounds left by surgical shoppers

It’s no surprise that the economy has changed how people spend their money. Everyone has been pinching pennies and in turn became smarter shoppers. People have been working overtime and getting second jobs. Who has time to browse shops? Who is going to fall for the impulse buy when money was strategically placed elsewhere? The Great Recession may officially be over, but the changes that people made to their spending habits may in fact be here to stay.

The new type of shopping is referred to as “surgical shopping” because the time spent shopping in stores and online has dropped drastically. No one is taking the time to wander stores and browse through websites to stockpile on clothing, necessities, etc. Instead, people know what they want and aren’t sticking around after buying it. Shoppers today visit an average of three stores during a trip to the mall, according to ShopperTrak, a Chicago research firm that tracks sales and customer counts at more than 70,000 stores. That compares with an average of five stores in 2006. There is even evidence accounting for stores being messier due to people dumping most items right before the check out.

How are companies and brands adjusting to surgical shopping? Often, through the strategic use of social sites like Groupon.com. The site has attracted more than 25 million subscribers to “group” together to get the lowest price on an item. Subscribers are pitched local discount offers on restaurants, retailers, etc and if enough people take advantage of it, it takes effect. The Gap's recent Groupon offer of $25 off a $50 purchase was a blockbuster Gap’ sold 441,000 offers as part of a one-day only promotion in August, for a total of $11 million.

With this new type of shopper mentality, what’s the best way to get them in AND to leave with your product? To help capture their attention, this might be the time to step up your “social media” strategy beyond the typical Facebook and Twitter. Along with Groupon, foursquare is another great tool to utilize. Promotions through foursquare are coming up everywhere (more on foursquare). I myself came across a promotion while shopping in NYC. Walking into an H&M, there was sign on the door that said “Check-In here and receive a special discount!” With incentives like that, who wouldn’t check in? Companies like Wholefoods, Saks 5th Avenue and Starbucks have all partnered with foursquare as well.

The continued practice of surgical shopping is creating a new reality for brands. And websites like Groupon.com and foursquare are helping them embrace consumers’ new way of shopping.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

You are only as strong as your weakest tweet

Tweet, Re-Tweet. Are we friends on Facebook? These are terms that have become a part of our everyday life. With all the social media websites available now, which one works best for you personally? Or for your business? Truth be told, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can all be beneficial…if you understand how to use them correctly.

Recently, an editor at a B2B magazine wrote: “We still think Twitter is the dumbest thing ever.” Previous to this statement, Facebook and LinkedIn were praised for how successful they are as social media outlets. We were concerned to read such an unfortunate and misleading criticism of a tool that generates millions of dollars for companies who understand how to use it to its full potential. For businesses, Twitter can lead a new found success. Those 140-character statements can make a world of difference.

Here are just two success stories from using Twitter:

  • Computer-maker Dell, an early Twitter adopter, offers its “followers” easily tracked Twitter-only discounts. These have generated US$3 million in sales, $1 million in the past six months.
  • Blair Hirtle, sales coordinator for Fairmont Hotels, noted that the Fairmont Empress offered a special discounted room rate on Twitter. The result was “increased occupancy. Much more successful than any traditional ad buy and it cost minimal time and labor.” Now seven Fairmont hotels have Twitter accounts.

The secret to their successes? Using Twitter efficiently. Here are some tips to get yourself started in the right direction.

  • Twitter gives companies the opportunity to personalize themselves with society. Consumers today tend to connect with people rather than organizations. Putting a face on a company can make it more real and personable. On Facebook, company profiles are made and then spread by “liking” the page. This doesn’t give quite the same personal touch and interaction that tweeting can.
  • Listen. Twitter is not just about posting Tweets and walking away. What are people discussing? Who is mentioning your brand or category? Understand the conversation and participate in it.
  • Follow people! The more people follow you, the more they know what you’re about. This works on the basic product selling and marketing point. Twitter has turned into a place where companies research about potential employees and consumers research about potential purchases. So, your tweets are giving the world an opportunity to learn more about you, your products, your knowledge and your specialty.
  • As I mentioned before, sell your product, but your expertise. It is probably the most basic concept of the social media websites. Give useful information about what you do, your business specialty, and what you’re selling for all your followers to see.

As the most misunderstood of the social networking tools, Twitter is often the most criticized and ridiculed. But it is, conversely, also one of the most effective. The popularity of using Twitter correctly has spun off another website, twittergrader.com. Anyone with a Twitter account can check the grade of their account, be it 0-100. If your grade isn’t as high as you thought it would be, the site gives you tips on the bottom of the page on how to improve your Twitter grade. With the introduction of twittergrader.com it is even easier to turn your Twitter account into one of the “Twitter Elite” joining the ranks of The New York Times, Fox News and BBC World. Like they say, you are only as strong as your weakest tweet.