A recent study by market research firm Edelman has shown what perhaps may seem obvious to many that jewellery brands must not prioritise commercial considerations over those of people affected by the pandemic. Cultural bias was removed by sampling over 12,000 participants from across Europe, North and South America and Asia. The research identified that almost two thirds of respondents believe that retail brands “play a critical role” in helping the economies and societies around the world to emerge from the pandemic and the long tentacles of its aftermath. There was also praise for the speed with which many brands have taken to fund raising for charities operating in support of frontline medical staff and key workers. It was also found that some companies have gone further and produced basic equipment, including surgical gowns and masks, for key workers. Most respondents believed that companies responded far more quickly than most governments and local authorities. Not surprisingly nearly all the respondents thought that brands should look after their employees and suppliers, paying their wages and invoices until their capital reserves are fully depleted. Government assistance is viewed as only being an acceptable recourse as a last resort, which may be used after working capital and shareholder funds have been depleted or are approaching the point of depletion.

This translates into a desire by the general population to see all organisations pool their resources and pull together to overcome the current crisis, rather than simply try to maintain business as usual. This extends to the point at which over 80% of people want brands’ advertising strategies to focus upon how businesses can help people deal with the outbreak in a constructive way. It is interesting to note that most people are following professional medical advice closely and the influence held by celebrities and influencers has declined markedly over recent weeks. People want brands to educate and facilitate methods of communication on how people might protect themselves in the pandemic. A clear example of this relates to the cleaning and hygienic wearing of jewellery at a time when it is vital to remove harmful traces of the virus from hard surfaces. One positive for the jewellery industry is that people have generally reported that they trust the advice and recommendations made to them by their local jeweller and usually disregard spurious information gleaned from untrusted internet sources. Clearly the emphasis at this time should be upon the conveyance of useful information, not simply trying to increase sales volumes. As emotions run high, sensitive communications are required to navigate through this crisis and jewellers can assist by connecting people and maintaining an informative narrative on social media, fostering a sense of community. Interestingly almost two thirds of the participants believed that a brand’s perceived response to this crisis will significantly determine the likelihood they will buy products from them in the future.

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