Consumers are complex individuals, particularly when it comes to buying diamond jewelry. Their purchase behavior is influenced by many factors, both external and internal. Understanding what these factors are, how they function, and how to leverage that data to increase your diamond sales is key to your success as a retailer.
The 5 Stages of the Customer Buying Process:
The five stages of the buying decision process were first introduced by John Dewey, an American philosopher and psychologist, in 1910.
Buying Process Stage #1: Problem/Need Recognition
This is usually the first step in the decision to make a purchase. It is the reason that a person decides to buy something. The stimulus can be internal, such as the desire to please someone, or external, a recommendation from a friend or seeing a diamond ring advertisement, for example.
As a diamond retailer, you can stimulate the recognition of a need by encouraging referrals from existing customers, perhaps with an incentive program that awards referrals. You can also use advertising on such items as posters, postcards and even SMS messages that portrays the love, appreciation, and excitement the recipient of a diamond gift exhibits. Try running these advertising campaigns as reminders to potential customers of upcoming occasions where a diamond purchase would be appropriate (birthday, anniversary, engagement, etc.).
Buying Process Stage #2: Information Gathering
Once the need is identified, the individual will seek information about how to satisfy that need. He will try to determine what choices are available.
Your job as the diamond jeweler is to provide all the information a client needs, even before he is aware he needs it. Here again, using advertising is a good way to ensure that a potential customer knows that diamonds can provide the solution to his need, whether that need is to express love or to display a status symbol in a particular social group and lifestyle.
These days, a website is fundamental in order to reach your target market. When it comes to gathering information, the internet is a consumer’s paradise. Finding information is as easy as typing a term into a search engine and almost instantly you are rewarded with a plethora of data. So whether or not you sell online, having a well-designed website is vital. Your website should be user-friendly and easy to navigate. It could include a resources or education section that provides consumers with the facts they need to know about diamonds before making a purchase, like documents describing the 4 C’s and charts of diamond shapes.
To find our more about creating a website for your store, read our blog Beginners Guide: 6 Steps to Setting Up Your Online Diamond Jewelry Store.
Your retail store interior and window display are also an important way to attract and inform consumers. Brochures describing “How to choose the best engagement ring for you” or “Designing the piece of your dreams” should be available for customers who are browsing to pick up and peruse. An eye-catching poster with the fundamentals of diamond buying will convey to potential customers that you have the information they need to make the right choice.
Buying Process Stage #3: Evaluation of Alternatives
At this stage the consumer will use the information gathered in the previous stage to evaluate the various options available and decide which is the most suitable and likely to fulfill his need.
You want to make sure that your diamond jewelry store is one of the first that a potential customer considers, and the one that he ultimately chooses in the end. Brand recognition and positive association is key here. Personal referrals are also extremely successful in influencing where a consumer makes his purchase.
Having a wide variety of stock will increase the probability that a customer will find something they like. Rotating the jewelry pieces displayed in the window as often as every week tells customers that you carry a large stock of options to choose from. Running a sales special is a another way to attract potential customers who may not have considered purchasing from you before. Competitive pricing and added incentives such as financing options, free ring sizing, and an appraisal certificate, will help ensure that you are not undercut by your competition.
Buying Process Stage #4: Purchase Decision
This is the stage at which the purchase occurs. The consumer has made a decision based on the perceived value, and proceeds to make the purchase. However, the purchase process can still be affected by factors such as the quality of the shopping experience, a last-minute promotion, or a new piece of information which he had not previously considered, such as the return policy.
Here is where your sales associates really need to shine: connect with the customer, share his excitement, provide information, and remember to emphasize the emotional symbolism of the diamond. It’s important to reinforce that the customer has not only made a good decision, but the right decision.
The decision to purchase a piece of diamond jewelry is usually based on a combination of logic and intuition or emotion. The right diamond piece is the one with the perfect balance between value and the right feeling. Helping the customer to find and choose the right diamond piece is the key to a successful sale.
Buying Process Stage #5: Post Purchase Evaluation
The customer compares the product with their expectations and is either satisfied or disappointed. The consumer may also be asking himself: “Did I make the right decision? Was it a good choice?”
It is crucial that diamond retailers take steps to reduce cognitive dissonance in clients after the purchase has been made. If the customer decides that he is dissatisfied with his purchase, this can lead to negative word-of-mouth, making future purchases at a competitor, or even return of the sale. To further enhance customer satisfaction, here are some ways to surprise and delight your customers which can include a follow-up call or email.
Behaviors Specific to Purchasing Diamond Jewelry
The decision to purchase a large-ticket item such as a diamond is one that usually involves a large amount of information gathering and evaluating alternatives. According to this article, many purchasers of luxury items seek exclusivity and do not want to compromise on quality. They select brands and products according to their attitudes and lifestyle, as well as for use as status symbols.
Stephen Lussier, executive director of De Beers and CEO of Forevermark, in an interview with Martin Rapaport, said that people buy diamonds mostly for their emotional symbolism. “The symbolism gets underpinned by other important factors,” he said. “The inherent beauty of the diamond — there is something magical about the way in which diamonds handle light — and the sense that the diamond has lasting value which underpins the product’s ability to symbolize important emotion between couples.”
How Diamond Retailers Can Influence a Customer’s Purchase Decision
The most important thing for a diamond retailer is to shift your emphasis away from selling the product, and focus your attention on getting to know your customers and their needs. It is crucial to recognize that the diamond jewelry business is not only about diamonds, but about your relationship with your customers. Earning trust and meeting the needs of your customer is the key to success.
The buying process is complicated and there are a limitless number of factors that affect a consumer’s decision-making process. By understanding the key factors, you can tailor your marketing and sales efforts to take advantage of these influences.
What tips can you give others about the diamond jewelry buying process? Tell us in the comments section below.