Monday, December 31, 2007


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Online Holiday Jewelry, Watch Sales Down from 2006 Levels

Jewelry and watches, just last year the darlings of the e-commerce world, have fallen from its perch as one the fastest growing holiday sales categories.
Andrew Lipsman, an analyst with comScore, Inc., said jewelry and watch sales growth has dropped from 2006 record levels. The company, which measures digital data, doesn't publicly release sales figures and so far it isn't releasing sales percentage growth for the category.
"However, I can tell you that 'jewelry & watches' actually saw a year-over-year sales decline," Lipsman told JCK.
In 2006, the "jewelry & watches" category grew 66 percent year-over-year, the biggest gain among all categories tracked by the Reston, Va.-based company. This high growth rate may have been one reason the category didn't perform as well in 2007, Lipsman said.
"The declines are likely a function of two things," he said. "First, jewelry & watches saw an unusually strong 2006 holiday season, meaning that any year-over-year growth this year is being calculated off a high base; Second, in an uncertain economy, consumers are likely to pull back on the purchase of luxury items, and jewelry & watches certainly falls under that domain."
The "flowers, greeting cards, & gifts" category, tracked by comScore , was down 19 percent, Lipsman told The New York Times.
The "video games, consoles & accessories" category saw a 129 percent growth year-over-year as of Dec. 16, by far the biggest gain among categories tracked by comScore. Other category that saw large year-over-year growth as of Dec. 16 are:
* Furniture, Appliances & Equipment, 63%* Event Tickets, 29%* Consumer Electronics, 24%* Apparel & Accessories, 17%
The figures from comScore excludes travel, auctions, and large corporate purchases.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pricey Watches Enjoy Boom Amid Overall Sales Slump

The boom of mobile phones, MP3 players and blackberries _ all of which are automatic time-adjusting gadgets _ has been taking a toll on the popularity of wristwatches over the years, but a new consumer trend is giving hope to the once-fading business.Luxury watches, local retailers say, are enjoying brisk sales lately, which are pushing up the high-end market to new heights.

Various department store-operated multi-shops specializing in wristwatches say sales of timepieces over five million won have seen about a 20 percent increase since last year.Lotte Department Store's specialty shop Chronodigm said sales of watches over 30 million won have jumped 30 percent since last year and the figure amounts to more than 20 percent of the shop's total revenue.Likewise, Hyundai Department Store's The House of Fine Watches, which retails timepieces ranging from five million to 170 million won, said its last two months' sales totaled 300 million won.

Why the splurge? Watches not only make a fashion statement, but a status statement, experts say.``Sporting pricey watches is a subtle and fashionable way to show off your financial status,'' said Kim Hye-ran of Swatch Group Korea. She added that the lavish consumer trend is apparent within the Swatch Group _ comprised of various price-ranged brands, including the economical Swatch and high-end Breguet and Omega.``Brequet pieces are priced around 10-20 million won and Omegas at around three million won are selling strong even in times of the industry-wide slow down,'' she said, admitting that a worldwide dip in watch sales resulted from the introduction of various time telling devices

A survey by Seiko Watches in Japan said that the number of people aged between 16 and 29 wearing wristwatches dropped almost 30 percent since 1997.A similar downward trend has been witnessed here pushed by the large number of cell-phone owners, but retailers don't seem to mind it as much thanks to the heavily-priced pieces.``Those getting hurt by this trend are the mid-ranged watch sellers,'' said Kim, explaining that people these days either want to buy a ``really nice watch'' or just use their mobile phones to tell the time.


Study Finds Luxury Consumers Use Social Networking Sites

hink social networking sites are just for teens and tweens who post party photos and lists of favorite bands? Think again. A new generation is flocking to Internet-based social networking sites – and they may well be the adult consumers most likely to make a luxury purchase.Over 40 percent of luxury consumers visited a social networking site, such as Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, etc. in the past three months.

This is the most surprising finding of a new survey by Unity Marketing about how luxury consumers are using the Internet. It is based upon a survey conducted in October among 1,074 affluent consumers who made at least one luxury purchase in the past three months (average income $150,200 and age 43.6 years)."This study shows the method behind Microsoft's 'madness' in paying $240 million for only 1.6 percent of Facebook. It isn't just kids visiting the social networking sites like Facebook anymore. Even middle-aged affluent consumers are networking online," says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and author of Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience."Young affluents, those 40 years and under, were the most active social networkers, but even one-third of the over 40 year old consumers reported visiting a social networking site."Internet exerts a powerful influence on luxury consumers' purchasesThe research study also found that over half (52 percent) of the luxury consumers of home luxury products and 46 percent of buyers of luxury fashion, fashion accessories, cosmetics, jewelry and watches used the Internet in support of their recent luxury purchases. "The Internet has a powerful influence on luxury consumers in terms of their spending. For example, those customers who used the Internet for home luxury purchases spent 11 percent more on their homes, while those who used the Internet for their personal luxury purchases spent 12.5 percent more on average buying fashion, jewelry, watches and cosmetic products. "They used the Internet both to research purchases, especially to compare prices and read other customers' reviews, as well as to make purchases.

The research also shows that they will visit a retailers' website to 'browse' before they head out to the store. The lesson is that luxury marketers and retailers which offer their customers a website get a significant return on investment in terms of more spending," Danziger says. Many websites give luxury consumers what they are hankering forWhen it comes to the features that luxury consumers value most in the Internet, the convenience of shopping at home is right at the top of the list, along with having a wide selection of merchandise available online. They also are passionate about the tools that the Internet gives them to compare prices and evaluate product features. It saves them time and makes shopping less of a chore.The many pluses of Internet shopping make up for any minor inconveniences, such as shipping and handling charges and delays in receiving the merchandise.

Other issues, however, are more of a hindrance to luxury shoppers. Some 35 percent of luxury consumers are very discouraged from using the Internet because of difficulties in returns and exchanges. And 21 percent are uneasy about making big ticket purchases, for example kitchen appliances and jewelry, online. "When asked what features were most important for a luxury shopping site to offer these luxury consumers, they were adamant about three features – in depth product information and specifications, detailed product pictures and a flexible return policy. They were far less concerned with company or brand news, lifestyle content or a store locator," Danziger says. Luxury travelers make the absolute most of the InternetLuxury travel is the one category where the Internet has most penetrated the luxury market. Commenting on the research, Danziger says, "Luxury consumers are maxing out the capabilities of the Internet in terms of their luxury travel. Over 90 percent of luxury consumers used the Internet in support of their travel planning in the third quarter. Over 80 percent made travel reservations online and researched travel destinations. More than half (56 percent) visited a website to see what other travelers have to say about their destination."Danziger concludes, "This study shows just how important the Internet is as a resource in support of the luxury consumers' lifestyle. Its value as a shopping venue is without question, but for marketers and retailers its role in influencing and informing the shopper can not be ignored. So when making investment decisions pertaining to the Internet, marketers need to carefully measure its power in advertising, promoting and building the company's brand and not just take into account the cash flow resulting directly from Internet purchases."

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007


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