Chris Burslem is the group managing editor of INSTORE. He loves it when good ideas triumph.
Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen came to prominence about 15 years ago with the publishing of his first book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, in which he explained how companies that were so focused on improving their existing technology could be broadsided by a new class of disruptive products. His examples included sailing boats, Detroit’s gas-guzzlers, and floppy disk makers.
One of the biggest news stories in the world last week – the U.S. aside — was the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager of the Manchester United soccer team.
It’s show season again and the converging of thousands of people from all parts of the industry, and often all parts of the world, in Chicago or Vegas or Atlanta, leads me to my usual conclusion at this time of the year: We are an attractive bunch of people. Whether it’s designers, vendors’ reps, store owners, in-store associates, whoever ... (OK, perhaps not the media so much), my belief is that if personal appearance could be quantified and jewelry-industry professionals were compared with say the participants at a cement and aggregates trade show, “we” would fare pretty well.
A favorite marketing ploy of stores with large, experienced staffs is to tally up their employees’ years in the business and boast they have a “combined 95 (or 140 or 200) years of jewelry experience.” Well, old hands, bow before the Brain Squad – because based on that kind of math, our 350 regular respondents have more than ten thousand years of industry experience. When they speak, you should listen, such as when we asked them in our latest survey how they were dealing with the current volatility in the price of gold.
If you want to get a peek at what it will mean to be an “independent jeweler” in the future, at least from a global perspective, you could take a look around Hall 1, the premier exhibition venue at this year’s Baselworld. The area has now given over almost exclusively to global brands from multi-billion-dollar conglomerates such as Swatch Group and LVMH. A few independent brands remain including Patek Philippe, Rolex (yes, Rolex, an “independent” by Baselworld standards), and Ulysse Nardin. But many of the other small guys who have been fixtures in Hall 1 for years have been shunted off to less prominent exhibition zones, either at the decree of the organizers or because they didn’t have $5 million it effectively costs to display there. As Forbes reported here, many of them aren’t very happy about it.
One of the more interesting explanations I’ve seen for the recent volatility in the gold market came from English stockbroker Marcus Padley:
Move over stunning Italian gold designs, bold approaches to alternative bridal, and fresh takes on emerald ... the real buzz generator at this year’s trade shows may well be something found among the metal testers, scales and laser welders. Yes, I’m talking 3-dimensional printing technology.
Last month’s vote by the Senate to insert Marketplace Fairness language into the Senate budget was trumpeted by some as a turning point in the fight to “level the playing field.” But in the subdued aftermath of the upper chamber’s action -- which, when it comes down to it, was little more than an expression of support for a non-binding 21-word summary of the act -- it’s hard to escape the conclusion that this fight has a long, long way to go. Indeed, by the time any legislation is passed to force both online and offline retailers to collect the same taxes it might well be a non-issue — just another law that hasn’t kept pace with technology.
While researching April’s lead stories on the bright new things in marketing, I came across an older story in Stores Magazine (the National Retail Federation’s monthly) on pricing pressures.
In 2005, Marcus Buckingham released a book called “The One Thing You Need to Know ... About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success.” With its title, it promised to make Stephen Covey's “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” look like a rambling list of Confucion strictures.