|Photo credit: Courtesy of Baselworld|
By Lisa Nikfarjam of Lisa Nik, Inc.
Attendance was undeniably down this year at Baselworld. But what does this really mean? The buying habits of US retailers have become increasingly focused on commercialized and internationally advertised brands. Perhaps this is because these brands are also becoming increasingly demanding for in store space, purchase dollars, and marketing placement in order to maintain market share. Will this create an overly homogenized jewelry selection for consumers across the country?
Many jewelers would argue that this industry dynamic is an opportunity to grow by further differentiating and focusing on newer and less commercialized brands. Several buyers that we spoke with at Baselworld stated that they need something different that everyone cannot find down the street at every department store and competing jewelry store. Niche designers have a tremendous opportunity to position themselves among the boutique and specialty retail stores that specifically target items that rebel the mainstream.
For designers, the colored stone section offered better than usual deals this year, specifically because of the strength of the US dollar against the Euro. It was literally like shopping with a 20 to 30 percent discount compared to the previous few years. Colored stone prices in general are higher than in years past and buyers may consider this adjustment to price as balanced due to the exchange rates. Overall, the incentive to buy from European suppliers was present within the competitive landscape.
Many European designers and manufacturers commented on the lighter international traffic with all eyes gazing upon the US buyers that were present. Although the strengthened dollar certainly stimulated US purchasing at the show this year, several retailers commented on the concern over experiencing a drop in existing inventory values because of the changed prices. Imagine owning $1 million of commoditized inventory that is suddenly worth 20 percent less because of a price change. This may not lead to a desire to purchase more just because of the drop in price.
We can only hope that the continued strength of sales in the sector will allow these retailers to sell through their existing stock levels so they can purchase more and benefit from the price reductions and the preferred Euro and Swiss Franc exchange rates against the US dollar.
Lisa Nikfarjam was at Baselworld in search of gems and stories. She is founder of the jewelry design firm, Lisa Nik, a company that combines colored gemstones, diamonds, and artful elements to create fashionable jewelry that women around the world can enjoy on any occasion.