Competition on the jewelry market is intensifying

For Mejuri, a jewelry startup founded online in 2015, an important part of the playbook is to always offer something new to consumers. The brand averages nearly weekly discounts, ranging from $25 earrings to $4,900 diamond chokers.

This approach was applied more often to sneakers than to high heels. Traditional jewelry retailers typically release several collections each year, although the pace of fashion has picked up in recent years.

Constant new releases encourage repeat visits to the Mejuri site and its growing chain of stores (currently 13, with at least one more in development). It’s also a great source of new content for the brand’s 1.1 million followers on Instagram.

“We’re all on Instagram and we’re consuming content very quickly, and I think the idea of ​​giving up fine jewelry a year is very outdated,” said Noura Sakija, co-founder and CEO of Mejuri.

Mejuri, along with brands such as M Jewellers, Aurate and Linjer, is part of a wave of direct-to-consumer jewelry companies that have broken into the market by promising consumers elegant designs at a fraction of the price. Like startups that sell sneakers, t-shirts, luggage, and countless other products, the logos and overall aesthetic tend to be minimalistic, while the marketing slogans they post on social media are anything but (Majorie’s tagline – “fine jewelry to be your damn self,” while Aurate tells customers that its products are “designed to be worthy of the women who wear them”).

While these e-commerce brands were around for much of the past decade, their competition with the leaders in the category has been intensifying, analysts say. Across the spectrum, jewelry brands have thrived during the pandemic as consumers looked for ways to spend the money they saved when they couldn’t travel. But airports are busy again, and the global economic slowdown is likely to further reduce spending on non-essentials, including gold bracelets.

“Now we’re starting to see travel reopening, so the numbers are coming down,” said Megan Crabtree, founder and CEO of jewelry consulting firm Crabtree Consulting.

Those conditions are setting up a battle for market share between direct-to-consumer upstarts and mid-tier brands sandwiched between low-cost jewelry centers and luxury brands like Cartier, she added.

The rise of DTC jewelry brands has irked incumbents, even landing them in court in one case. In December 2021, David Yurman, a 40-year-old brand known for cuff bracelets and mixed metals, sued Mejuri, accusing the upstart of being a “serial copyist” of her signature designs. Magjuri denied the claims and filed a countersuit against Yurman in March, alleging that the cool motivation at the heart of the dispute dates back to ancient Rome.

“In recent years, we’ve seen newcomers to the jewelry space that don’t share the industry’s long-standing core values,” said Evan Yurman, president of David Yurman, in a statement to BoF.

Digital brands aren’t slowing down: Mejuri has shipped 3.1 million shipments since its debut in 2015, has 1.5 million unique customers and expects triple-digit year-over-year growth. Monica Vinader, a British brand launched online in 2008, also recorded growth. The brand’s sales rose 38 percent to 80 million pounds ($91.76 million) in the year ended July 31, according to the company.

The Shrinking Middle

Brands like David Yurman, John Hardy, and Mikimoto built a big business selling fine jewelry—18-karat gold and precious stones—to consumers priced out of luxury brands like Cartier or Tiffany, who moved to high-end market, offering a wider selection. in recent years focused on luxury customers.

Also targeting the entry-level and mid-range niche are DTC brands, which sell both fine jewelry and demi-fine pieces, which typically contain precious metals but are of lower quality or mixed with cheaper materials. Medjuri gold vermeil, for example, is gold-plated sterling silver.

The price difference can be dramatic, with Medjuri selling vermicelli rings for as little as $68. David Yurman does not offer vermicelli; solid 18k gold rings start at $650 on their website.

The question facing the industry is whether price or materials are more important to younger buyers.

Roli Egbejule, a digital creator and stylist, said she buys Mejuri and other Demifan brands for herself because its relationship with consumers feels more personal than that of traditional jewelry brands.

“When I talk about my demographic, we don’t care as much about quality versus how it looks and what’s on trend,” said Egbejul, who has purchased jewelry from Mejuri, Monica Vinader and Aurate and received freebies from them. .

The DTC formula

DTC brands have been quick to embrace the shift in who is buying jewelry: Where traditional marketing portrayed diamond bracelets and gold cuffs as items a husband or boyfriend bought for their significant other, women are increasingly behind the purchase.

Shoppers are also more likely to look for a specific brand, with a 2022 De Beers survey showing that 65 percent of respondents bought branded diamond jewelry, up from 42 percent just two years ago. Gen Z and Millennials were significantly more likely to shop for a specific brand, as were shoppers who wanted to make a purchase for themselves rather than an engagement ring or a gift.

Upstart brands appeal to younger female shoppers by emphasizing diversity, sustainability and affordability.

Dorsey, a direct-to-consumer lab-grown gemstone brand founded in 2019, has become popular among younger consumers by positioning itself as an ethical alternative to sourcing brands. Dorsey describes her designs as “heritage-inspired,” which have been worn by Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid and Taylor Swift.

Studs, a self-proclaimed “next-generation jewelry and ear piercing brand,” posts videos of its products to popular TikTok sounds and sells earrings tailored to astrological signs.

Majuri’s recent #BeYourDamnSelf campaign featured a diverse range of models and messages that focused on celebrating individuality and independence.

“It’s easier for me to trust smaller brands like Mejuri because they try to back up everything they say with their interaction with the consumer,” Egbejule said.

Some legacy brands are also playing with their image. Tiffany launched the Not Your Mother campaign in the summer of 2021, and in August 2022 sold NFTs that could be turned into custom pendants.

As for the products themselves, the simple hoop earrings and rings offered by Mejuri and peers are aimed at younger consumers who prefer a more casual style. These buyers can even afford more expensive and pure jewelry or signature staples like Cartier’s Love bracelet. As with their wardrobes, they will mix high with low.

Neri Cara, an entrepreneurship expert at Saïd Business School, said she gravitates toward semi-finalist jewelry brands because their styles are often more interchangeable and interesting than what traditional brands offer.

After all, consumers like Kerra may prefer price and style over the durability and prestige of the old guard of jewelers. Fine jewelry brands will either need to compete on price or enter the high-end market and engage in storytelling to attract customers, said Fleur Roberts, head of luxury at Euromonitor.

“Many brands make jewelry using vermilion… and [consumers] feel like they’re still getting quality,” Roberts said. “It’s a way to still be able to have something that they feel is somewhat luxurious without a huge price tag.”

In other words, solid 18k gold isn’t what it used to be.

https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/retail/direct-to-consumer-jewellery-versus-incumbents/ Competition on the jewelry market is intensifying

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