By Michelle Graff
When asked about sales of branded jewelry over the past three years, the majority of jewelers who participated in our latest Product Pulse survey said they have been flat or decreased.
New York--Over the past three years, sales of branded jewelry have declined or flatlined for the majority of jewelers who took National Jeweler/Jeweler of America’s latest Product Pulse survey.

A monthly poll, the Product Pulse asks jewelers about their sales in specific merchandise categories, such as pearls or platinum.

This month’s focus was branded jewelry, and the poll was conducted between July 28 and Aug. 9.

Of the approximately 176 jewelers who took the survey, 84 percent said their sales of branded jewelry have decreased (44 percent) or stayed the same (40 percent) over the past three years. Seventeen percent reported growth in the category.

In addition, 59 percent of jewelers said that branded jewelry accounts for 10 percent or less of their overall sales while 21 percent said it was 16 to 30 percent of overall sales.

20160817 percentage of sales chart

As one jeweler put it, “We have found that we need to brand ourselves. We do custom … a lot … so when we decide on a designer for our shop, they become part of our hand-picked collection.”

The National Jeweler/Jewelers of America survey also asked jewelers what their biggest complaint was about working with brands; retailers were asked to write in their own answers but were not questioned about any brands specifically.

Many said it was the high buy-in and the, as one survey-taker described it, “constant push for orders” with little or no strategy for dealing with aged inventory.

Also among the complaints were internet and other direct sales to consumers, such as through a brand’s own stores, which many respondents said demonstrates a lack of loyalty.

“I deplore it when a brand sells direct to the public online, yet is at trade shows too! … So greedy with no loyalty to the jewelers,” one survey-taker wrote.

20160817 Margin chartMargin did come up a couple times when jewelers were asked to list their complaints about brands, though more than half of survey-takers reported making margins of 41 percent or higher when selling branded jewelry.
Another jeweler said that they felt many brands build their business on the back of the independent jeweler then cut them out of the supply chain for a “bigger fish” or to go directly to the customer, behavior he or she described as “unprecedented backstabbing.”

A somewhat-more-brand-friendly respondent wrote, “I think they are easier to work with than they used to be. (But) if a company sells direct online, I drop them.”

About 17 percent of respondents said they had no complaints about the brands they carry at their store.

“We like them, for they are extremely consistent with quality,” one survey-taker wrote, while another jeweler noted that satisfaction was tied to the types of brands with whom the store chose to partner.

This respondent wrote, “We don’t work with the major brands … Rather we choose to partner with small independent designers. We develop more than a business relationship with most. As a result, there are no complaints. It’s a matter of choosing big brands who could (care less) about you unless your volume is huge or choosing a partner.”

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.