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Thursday, December 18, 2014

The 'Millennials’ - insights Into What’s Shaping their Buying Habits

Photo credit: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Jewelry News Network guest columnist, Chris Benham, is co-founder and director of Inspired Jewellery Ltd., Wellington, New Zealand, a global creative studio for specialist jewelry design.

Creating a luxury brand amidst the information overload on the internet is increasingly becoming a challenge. As jewelry companies look to position themselves for the next generation of purchasers, I took the opportunity to ask Hunter and Angelka, both in their early 20’s (the “Millennial Generation”) to share their views on what’s shaping their buying habits and how they are filtering through the holiday sale season madness.

In part one of this two part article we hear from Hunter, followed in part two by Angelka. They provide some valuable views on what’s important to them and insights into what investment jewelry companies need to make to win their trust and future business.

Hunter:
There will always be those who are motivated primarily by price, but I think that quality is becoming a more decisive factor in the purchase decisions of the middle class with budget concerns but still with income disposable for consumer goods purchases.
My purchases have definitely shifted in recent years to quality, longevity, exclusivity, innovation and/or tradition, and un-branded, timeless style. Plain leather shoes, vinyl records, and Ikea furniture being a few examples. The brands that appeal to me are ones that think outside the box and sell me on their product instead of their logo. My watch designed for the sight-impaired, and my urbanears headphones are the kinds of products I most treasure. Based on where I see a lot of these such products coming out of, I think that Northern Europe learnt this idea a while ago.
Our generation has seen quality triumph over price or quantity already in digital media: music and movies are now so easy to purchase online (and of such reliable quality) that the majority of consumers are choosing to do that instead of downloading free pirated copies. I think it's natural to be distrustful of something that's irrationally low priced. There's a reason why a company would charge more for their product, and if it's not because they have an expensive label (see Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc.), then presumably it's because it costs more to make and is of higher quality.
It's more than just your pricing - your whole company has to reflect that image of forward-thinking design and age-proven quality. It's manifested in everything from the materials of the product (wood, glass, metal, and natural fibers seem to be preferred over plastic and its derivatives) to the fonts you use on the website.
I value companies that have a forward-thinking outlook, but root it in a timeless, tangible product. In particular companies that build a story around the people behind the products. When I bought my watch (designed for the sight-impaired), I could view on the company's website not only the entire company from designers to marketers, but also some of the blind people they brought on as beta testers. That human element really set them apart to me. I would continue to stress it when individuals design and build jewelry. 
Charitable donations and purchases are increasingly indistinct to my generation, and so when we have the chance to directly support people with our purchases, we respond to that. Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site where you pledge money that becomes the company's investment capital in return for perks or the first products off the line, does a great job of leveraging that. Another example is a website called Subbable - I donate a small monthly amount to online video producers that I like to support their (ad-free) content, and in return I can "bank" those dollars towards perks (like merchandise). I wouldn't do this if I didn't feel some connection to the producers. 
I definitely believe that buying decisions in my generation are shifting from purely price-driven to something based in quality that reflects one's personality and tells a unique story.
Please join me on the Jewelry News Network Facebook Page, on Twitter @JewelryNewsNet and on the Forbes website.

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