Ten Ways to Sell to a Green Consumer

The largest sale in the history of our company, three platinum rings and a large diamond, came from a customer from California who found us online and said he purchased from us specifically because of our “progressive eco-values.” I was happy to make this sale, but also sad that there were no jewelers in his area that could meet his standard. Eco and Fair Trade jewelry is just beginning, just as the internet was ten years ago, but it has huge growth potential. I am the type of customer who factors personal values into their shopping decisions. I would want my wedding band or pair of earrings that I chose for me wife to be beautifully made by artisans who are treated well. And today the numbers of people like me are growing exponentially.

Here are ten ways a jeweler can sell to someone like me.

1.Have a discussion with your sales staff about socially responsible, ecologically sensitive, and fair trade jewelry. Explain how this new movement presents a great opportunity. If everyone is not interested, try to find one or two people who are truly passionate around these concerns and brainstorm.

2.Have team leaders always on the floor who specialize in these issues. When I do come across them, I am going to feel their passion which is going to convince me that the initiative is real and not some kind of “green wash” dressing with nothing behind it.

3.Start with the low hanging fruit. Recycling is easy and does not cut into your bottom line. Purchasing recycled office paper costs a little bit more, but it’s worth it. Switch to compact fluorescent lights and pay a little bit more for green energy if it is available. All this takes only a few hours. You can also start purchasing recycled gold, silver and platinum now.

4.Go zero carbon.It might cost between fifty and a hundred dollars a month, but it is the right thing to do. If as an environmentalist, I walked into your store and you showed me that you were paying for carbon offsets, that fact alone would probably be enough to convince me that you are real.

5.Offer Fair Trade gemstones. This costs nothing. All you need is a list of the gems that you can get. You can call and order them for the customer’s approval. The second step involves more work: trace the sources of your gemstones, finding out where things are made and what the labor and environmental conditions of the mines actually are. This will take time, but I would be very impressed if you could provide a document that states where your gemstones come from.

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Picture: The new “Carousel” Collection from Reflective Images is fair trade, eco-friendly, and made with 100% recycled metals, (888) 733-5238

6.Purchase jewelry from a Fair Trade manufacturer or an American manufacturer. It may not be possible, within the context of sound economics, to have all your jewelry from these sources, but certainly you can get some jewelry for customers who are concerned about these things. If they are American, ask them if they use recycled metal.

7.Have transparency and full disclosure around these issues. Explain that you are working toward improving, and that it takes time because the industry as a whole is just beginning to create structures which allow these things to move forward. If you do not know about something of concern with the customer, just say you don’t know.

8.Have a very clear diamond strategy based on full disclosure. Canadian diamonds are an option and much has already been written about this. Know where your African diamonds are coming from. Have literature on the Kimberley Process to give away on the floor—you can print it from Wikapedia. As a customer I would be especially impressed if you said that you were donating a part of every diamond sale to the Diamond Development Initiative or another worthy cause.

9.After you have done all these things, create a sheet of your unique selling points listing all that you do.This will be useful for all the sales people.

10.Market yourself and exploit your competitive advantage. Look particularly for small publications that do not cost a lot and target the audience that have the demographics. Here are some good key words for the ad: “fair trade gems,”“green,” “eco,”“socially responsible,” and “locally owned.”

One final word: be sincere or do not bother. If your efforts are perceived as “green wash” it will be much more damaging from a PR point of view than just being a regular mainstream company.

Marc Choyt of Reflective Images, Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a jewelry retailer and manufacturer and the author of a blog on fair trade issues at www.fairjewelry.org.

The new Carousel collection from Reflective Images is fair trade, eco-friendly, and made with 100% recycled metals, (888) 733-5238.

©2009 Hoover & Strong, Inc.