More than 62 per cent of US consumers would prefer to buy diamond jewelry at a physical store over buying online, as long as the environment is considered safe, according to new research published today by De Beers Group in the second of its Diamond Insight ‘Flash’ Reports, which seek to highlight the evolving consumer perspective in light of COVID-19.
Despite the pandemic, and the consequent growth in online diamond jewelry sales, consumers still prefer to shop in-store where they can receive expert advice and personal attention. This was the case even among digital-savvy Millennial and Gen-Z consumers, with 59 per cent preferring the in-store experience.
The research, based on a survey of 500 adult Americans, also highlighted that safety in relation to health and hygiene is critical to ensuring consumers feel comfortable shopping in-store. Department stores were seen as the most trusted channel for ensuring appropriate safety measures by 39 per cent of consumers, while independent jewelers were considered the second most trusted, at 21 per cent.
When it came to specific safety measures, the three most important considerations for consumers were limiting the number of customers in the store (68%), providing hand sanitizer (66%) and ensuring staff wear face masks and gloves at all times (64%). Further down the list of priorities were cleaning each piece of jewelry after being handled (53%), requiring customers to wear face masks (48%) and having screens to separate customers and sales associates (42%). Only four per cent of consumers said they would feel comfortable shopping with no safety measures in place.
The report also includes a focus on retailer insights based on one-on-one interviews with jewelry retailers across the United States. This research highlighted a clear sense of optimism for the fourth quarter sales season; however, caution remained with regards to potential new outbreaks and the impact to consumer confidence as economic stimulus is wound up. It also highlighted that those retailers that have reopened following lockdown have experienced pent-up demand from consumers, driven by strong engagement ring sales, jewelry gifts being upgraded as an alternative to summer travel, and a stronger season than normal for graduation gifting.
Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “While consumers increasingly desire a diamond acquisition journey that blends the digital and physical, when it comes to making purchases, they still prefer the personalization of the in-store experience, despite the pandemic. Those retailers that are able to provide a safe and welcoming in-store environment for consumers in what is a strange and unsettling time will be best placed to benefit in the weeks and months ahead. It is heartening to hear initial reports of positive demand for diamond jewelry as consumers emerge from lockdown and the industry starts preparing for the important end of year sales season.”
The Diamond Insight Flash Report 2 is available to view here.