Branding is a critical component of selling any product, but jewellery in particular. With this particular product's market, purchasing decisions are often emotionally rather than logically based (Karo 1968:49). Branding enables the retailer to influence customer perceptions and is a key driver in terms of the customer's store choice and long-term brand loyalty. It is every jeweller's desire to have a customer who goes to buy his engagement ring, wedding ring, and anniversary gifts for his (or her) significant other from the same, trusted retailer. The purpose of this paper is to integrate lessons from branding and retail image research to provide a better understanding of how jewellery retailers create their brand images, paying special attention to the role of the manufacturer and private label brand assortment.
This report takes the format of a compare-and-contrast case study of two different jewellery retailers located within the Oasis shopping centre of Queensland, Australia: Amore and Darje Jewellers. Because of the different branding strategies of both retailers, consumer buying patterns exhibit notably different track records. When compared, Amore and Darje show how design, price, location, promotion and store atmosphere can cause dramatic shifts in consumer behaviour. It is essential for marketers to understand how customer associations regarding design and implementation of branding strategies can affect a business' bottom line.
Amore vs. Darje retailers
This report will compare and contrast two jewellers in the same location of Queensland, Australia named Amore and Darje. Although within the same industry, location, store design, pricing, location and customer service differ substantially based upon the organization's positioning of itself within the retail jewellery industry. The paper will conclude with recommendations to Amore and Darje to improve their marketing approaches.
The Oasis Shopping Centre is located in an urban area near a beach and is highly attractive to tourists as well as locals. It markets itself as a 'high end' mall and most of its stores are targeted at a relatively affluent demographic of consumers. Availability of monorail transport, extensive parking options, and fine food and dining make it a 'destination' as well as a mere shopping centre. There is also a nearby convention centre and hotel to make it particularly attractive to business travellers. The Oasis explicitly identifies itself as a place where tourists wish to shop because of its pleasant ambiance, not simply because it is a store which sells a desirable physical product. The Oasis is marketed as an experience, not a chore, in terms of the shopping market ("The Oasis," 2014).
Amore Jewellery advertises itself as a highly personalized store with an emphasis on custom-designed jewellery as well as a wide selection of high-end gold, silver, and other pieces ("Amore, 2014). The store proudly offers customization resources which allow customers to design jewellery for themselves or that very special someone ("Amore," 2014). Rather than showcasing a wide range of pieces, the website merely contains a tasteful representation of a single, diamond piece of jewellery and instead uses a great deal of small font writing designed to convince the reader to patronize the store. The apparent intention is to create an impression of taste, quality, and refinement. The diamond motif as well as the prose also stresses the romantic potential of the purchase, suggesting that this is a wonderful destination retailer at which to purchase an engagement ring or a wedding ring. Men are the most likely target of this jewellery business, versus women.
In contrast to Amore's 'high end' appearance, Darje has a more downscale image. It does not primarily offer customized jewellery but instead specializes in diamond fusion jewellery which is supposed to offer facsimiles of real diamonds at minimal cost (Darje," 2014). Like Amore, it offers a wide range of different types of jewellery, but without a specific area of specialization like Amore. However, the stress is upon offering low-cost jewellery to budget-minded consumers. The Darje Diamond Fusion process is advertised as unique form of technology which creates diamonds at a fraction of the cost that look almost as good as the real thing and is exclusive to Darje ("Darje," 2014). This emphasis on low cost suggests that people are not primarily focusing on buying an 'occasion' piece but rather upon an attractive costume piece of jewellery to enhance an outfit. Women buying for themselves are the most likely consumers vs. men.
Discussion of the implications
As noted by Grewal (2003), even before customers make a purchase at a store, there are a number of subjective impressions which can influence the desire to make a purchase or not but also their expectations of the store. A store that markets itself as less costly and not a luxury brand like Darje may have lower expectations in terms of how the customers are treated by the staff. Store music, ambiance, and marketing literature (such as the website) as well as the products themselves create an impression for the customer about how much or how little to expect upon entre. A store such as Amore Jewellers which emphasizes the specialization and customization of its experience is far more likely to disappoint a customer with insufficient attention. However, customers are less likely to expect a 'deal' from a retailer that markets itself as upscale like Amore, particularly if the literature is specifically designed to attract customers who are purchasing occasion jewellery. If a store markets itself as 'green' or 'cutting edge' or 'classic or 'luxury' or 'discount,' initial expectations will vary based upon the branding, even if the same customer goes to buy relatively the same product at two different stores (Janssen 2014: 45).
Although they are both jewellery stores, Amore and Darje foster entirely different customer expectations based upon their marketing. Amore offers merchandise that emphasizes real diamonds and pearls and an extensive array of custom designs. It stresses the suitability of its products for weddings and other special occasions where jewellery is often given. Customers are not shopping with price in mind, but with their emotions. Customers are more likely to be men and are more likely to solicit advice from store personnel when selecting purchases. Thus showcasing only a modest amount of jewellery, with few or no prices, to emphasize taste and class suits the intentions of Amore and also ensures customers do not leave because they are dissuaded by high prices. The store is more open and designed to give customers maximum space to walk around.
In contrast, Darje is a lower-end store in terms of the target financial demographic of its likely consumer. This is a status it embraces: it is not a criticism of the store necessarily but an acknowledgement that it targets its products to a completely different niche market. It proudly proclaims the fact that it is a discount jewellery store and openly sells facsimiles of diamonds. True, it does stress the high quality of those diamonds and also the pedigree of its owners but this is to convince customers that the manufactured fake diamonds are a 'cut above' competitors. The store is more crowded and more items are showcased with prices displayed more prominently. There is an acknowledgement that customers are coming to the store with a budget-minded focus. However, this could be problematic: even if customers are making a budget jewellery purchase, they are still likely in the mindset that they wish to indulge themselves. The atmosphere of the store upon the budget-focused nature of the store's brand does not necessarily cohere even with the website, which stresses the 'specialized' nature of the technology to render the faux diamonds (Sabrina 2014: 229).
Focusing solely on price when promoting an item is not entirely wise given this can lead to price wars, driving down the prices of items out of the black (Gupta & Cooper 1992). For smaller retailers in particular who cannot support the cost of loss leaders to draw customers into the store, it is particularly worrisome to solely promote a product with a price focus. Promotions can focus instead upon unusual aspects of the item, such as the ability to purchase customized jewellery in the case of Amore.
The jewellery industry also has another factor to consider in creating a marketing mix: with luxury goods: a low price actually might dissuade rather than persuade the individual from making the purchase, because a low price is associated with poor quality and 'cheapness.' In particular, when purchasing an engagement ring or a wedding ring, a man may wish to purchase such an item because it has social cache not because it is a great deal ("Luxury goods," 2008). There is an aspirational aspect to all jewellery purchases which is why Darje must tread a careful line as a discount retailer: if it seems too cheap, customers may still not want to purchase it, even if it is within their budgets.
Both stores are located within the same shopping complex. However, Amore has a more advantageous position given it is located near an elevator.…