By Brecken Branstrator
Simon G’s booth at South by Southwest included a Henna artist, snacks and a jewelry cleaning station, among other things. There also was some product, but it was positioned in a way that allowed visitors to find it on their own, the brand said.
New York--Simon G. has a new strategy to reach its younger shoppers, and social media is only part of it.

Recently, the fine jewelry brand participated in the South by Southwest festival, where it had a booth at the Create & Cultivate conference series for millennial female entrepreneurs.

Aimed at bringing foot traffic into the space, the booth was set up as a lounge area with snacks, mimosas, free jewelry cleaning, flash tattoos, a henna artist providing custom henna tattoos, and a photo booth with an “Instagrammable” wall as a backdrop with climbing vines and floral accents set against the brand’s new logo.

“Anything that we pushed out then had a reference back to the brand, so it gave us another subtle hint of pushing out our messaging without being in your face,” said Brooke Brinkman, senior vice president of marketing and communications at Simon G.

The booth also had, of course, product from Simon G., but the brand designed it so that the jewelry wouldn’t be the main focus but, rather, would be something visitors discovered on their own.

This was part of the company’s strategy to meet the consumers in a space where they would feel comfortable trying on the jewelry and asking questions about it, especially in regards to price, she said.

“The millennial audience wants to discover, so give them the opportunity to discover it. Put it in a place that’s pretty easy to be discovered but doesn’t feel forced.”

Simon G. partnered with a local Austin designer to create a booth relevant to its targeted audience, which also meant they could publicize it to blog and publications that focus on home décor and lifestyle, reaching consumers in a sector where they weren’t used to seeing Simon G.

The booth also allowed the brand the opportunity to hear which design elements of its jewelry the consumers enjoyed and to see what they already were wearing, helping influence future designs, especially for fashion pieces.
“The millennial audience wants to discover, so give them the opportunity to discover it. Put it in a place that’s pretty easy to be discovered, but it doesn’t feel forced.”   -- Brooke Brinkman, Simon G.
Brinkman noted that while bridal is Simon G.’s bread-and-butter, fashion jewelry is a growing opportunity for the brand, especially as they launch jewelry that can be worn throughout the day, like versatile pieces that can be layered.

She added that growing the fashion category is not bringing down the brand’s average price point.

“I think a lot of people in our industry feel that to reach this millennial audience they have to lower prices, and that’s absolutely not the case.”

Brands and stores just have to find the space in which to meet them, she said.

Simon G., for its part, has revamped its strategy to engage consumers in ways with which its retail partners still are comfortable.

Over the last two years, it has made a conscious shift to “continue in traditional realms, but in a little bit of a different way.”

This includes experiential opportunities, like the South by Southwest booth, that are part of the brand’s latest strategy to reach millennials in the spaces in which they are familiar and already present.

“In those experiential opportunities, the jewelry is not necessarily our primary focus. It’s there, but what we find is by making it a secondary focus, it ends up being something everybody engages in,” Brinkman said.

20170412 Simon G HennaSimon G had a henna artist at its SXSW booth who was creating custom tattoos for visitors.

The brand’s ads also have changed quite significantly, moving away from product shots and models wearing the jewelry to more of an “Instagram” feel, Brinkman said, pairing the jewelry with other lifestyle products under the new tagline “Your life. Your style.”

Brinkman said this move was designed to reflect the changing mindset of today’s consumers, specifically in that they want purchases to reflect more about them as a person.

The brand also has started to focus more on regional campaigns, including radio and television, but also experiential popups and influencer events in the markets it wants to build.

Simon G. will work closely with its retailer partners, not only on social media best practices and providing them with content, but also in connecting them directly to influencers in their local market who can help push out their messaging to millennials.

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