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Improve Your Jewelry Sales with a Little Market Research

Would you like to find out which of your jewelry designs are likely to be good sellers before you invest a lot of time and money developing them?

Before going into large-scale production of your newest design (or developing an entire jewelry line based on it), you can do some simple market research to get a feel for how well it's likely to sell. You can also get some ideas for how to improve your design to make it sell better.

Here are five ways you can conduct market research to improve your jewelry sales:

1) Search the Web.

Go to a search engine like Google and enter some keywords in quotation marks related to your new or proposed design (for example, "barefoot sandals" - or whatever your design is).

Look at the first few pages of websites that come up in your search results. What does the market look like for other businesses making and selling similar or related items? How are the other businesses marketing and pricing them?

Also note whether most of these vendors have their related version of the item marked down for quick sale. If so, that may mean it's a slow-selling product and vendors want to unload their sluggish inventory to make room for better-selling pieces.

If you are discovering lots of markdowns, don't give up on your idea right away. Consider reasons why the design may not be selling, and what could be changed to make it sell better - design, useability, color, price? Or are the other businesses presenting it to the wrong market?

Use your Web research to think objectively about your jewelry designs.

2) Study Publications.

Clothing catalogs, trade publications, and fashion magazines usually come out several months ahead of the season their products are intended for. For example, clothing retailers send out a flurry of spring fashion catalogs right after Christmas.

These trend-savvy publications can give you a feel for upcoming fashion and lifestyle directions for you to keep in mind as you design new jewelry pieces. Note the predominant colors, shapes, patterns, accessories, and styles. These are things that the media will be promoting, telling consumers "Buy this or you'll be out of style!"

Designing jewelry with trends in mind increases your sales, since you'll be offering what your customers are already looking for to update their wardrobes.

Also try to come up with ways to create original jewelry that can piggyback onto a trend. For example, what about jewelry for the currently popular "Ugg" style of boots? You might design boot dangles, boot anklets, boot chains, boot lariats, beaded boot tassels - what would Ugg wearers want for accessorizing their boots?

Then consider the best market for your designs. You could probably sell your Ugg boot jewelry at shows and parties - but you could likely do even better by wholesaling it to stores that carry Ugg style boots. Or by having a well-promoted trunk show at an Ugg boot shop.

3) Test a New Design at Shows or Jewelry Parties.

Make two or three pieces of a new jewelry line in different colors, and display them prominently at your next few shows or home jewelry parties. Then watch how people respond to them.

Do people ignore these pieces, or pick them up and study them? Do they try them on? What kind of verbal feedback do they give you? What questions do they ask you about the new style? And most important, does anyone purchase them?

Selling just one item in this test market is a sign that you may have a have a winner. Either further market research or a small-scale production run may be worthwhile.

4) Wear Your New Jewelry Design in Public.

Wear your innovative new bracelet to a party, or on a day when you're running a lot of errands that will put you in contact with a variety of people.

See if people notice and study your new design, and pay special attention to any questions or comments it receives. Does it appeal to only one or two people, or to many? What specific things do people say they like about it?

5) Get Customers' Input.

If you have a new creation that just isn't selling, get your customers' input before dropping the design from your inventory. Display the piece at your next show or party, tell customers you're developing a new design, and ask for their input on what it needs.

Jot down any responses you get - whether it's suggestions for other colors or sizes, matching pieces to make it a set, less (or more) ornate, a different clasp, different pricing, better packaging, or anything they recommend. Later, when you review your list of customer suggestions, see if there's a general trend or two in their feedback, or anything that makes a light go on for you about what the piece needs.

Market research is a never-ending process, and it's also a lot of fun! By keeping your finger on the pulse of the jewelry industry, you'll wind up doing two things that will increase your profits:

First, you'll most likely buy fewer supplies that you wind not using; thanks to your market research, you'll be focused instead on supplies for jewelry designs that you know should sell well. And second, you should be selling more jewelry because you're offering what your jewelry customers are already looking for.
Rena Klingenberg is a jewelry artist and small business owner. Her websites, http://www.trade-show-booth-display.com and http://www.home-jewelry-business-success-tips.com , are filled with new success tips and articles to help other small businesses market their products.

Rena Klingenberg