For Lauren Chang Sommer of moissanite retailer Moi Moi Fine Jewellery, there are several steps to educating consumers without giving them the hard sell.
1. Know your product inside and out
According to Lauren, having a really solid knowledge of your product will not only help you answer customer queries but also fend off potential criticisms from competitors.
“In the early days, we had a lot of resistance,” says Lauren.
“We had a lot of resistance from everywhere: the jewellery industry, the public, and because we didn't have our own pre-framed idea of what things should be, we just knew that we liked it and it was something that we would buy for ourselves. We stuck to it and kept.
“We just love moissanite, purely and passionately, with ourselves. In that very beginning it was tough. It was tough to handle, but we just continued our plight of ‘We're selling it for what it is. We're not trying to sell it for anything that it's not. These are the qualities for moissanite. If you take the time to have a look and you come and see for yourself, you'll notice that there's something amazing here’.”
2. Know your customer too
It’s all well and good to be a product expert, but your knowledge will go to waste if you are trying to educate the wrong type of consumer.
“[Around] 80 per cent of our business is moissanite engagement rings, so brides. It's very different, and we knew this from the beginning, that a moissanite customer is really driven by the woman in a relationship, which is quite unique in the jewellery industry,” Lauren says.
“A lot of high-end jewellers are focusing to get the final sale from the men, and if you think about the marketing of Tiffany, it's very like they're waiting for the gift, they're waiting for the proposal.
“For our customer, we knew it was ourselves: it was a woman who sees something and wants it and says ‘I'm looking for this engagement ring, let me come and show you’.”
3. Make it fun
Children often don’t like school because learning can be boring. The same is true of adults, although their disengagement will lead them out of your premises or away from your website.
As such, Lauren suggests you make the whole experience fun instead of imparting a well-rehearsed list of facts.
“We had some jewellery … workshop evenings which we still sometimes run on a Thursday evening, where we have an intimate affair of maybe six or seven people come in and we tell them all about moissanite,” she explains.
“It gives us a chance to go into quite a lot of depth, because there is a lot to say. They get a chance to try on jewellery and see it for themselves, have some champagne, have some fun. We teach them how to look at jewels. That has been very successful for us.”
4. Explain the facts rather than pushing the sale
Lauren says her website includes lots of graphics that provide essential information in a more visually interesting manner than great chunks of text, or a catalogue of products where consumer feel like they are being given the hard sell.
“We … have information on our website that not just shows [but] it tells about the process of moissanite with info-graphics and comparison charts [explaining] how it compares to other jewels – jewels that are within the same context, being diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds,” she says.
5. Educate the industry as well as the consumer
While not relevant for everyone in business, if you are selling a brand-new concept, it may be just as important to educate the industry about your product or service as to educate the customer, Lauren says.
“We have also been in close connection with the National Council of Jewellery Valuers and they have invited us to lecture to their gemologists and valuers on the differences between moissanite and diamond,” she explains.
“That's really important to us, because we have people who come to their local jeweller that they know and trust and say ‘I've heard about moissanite, and I want to make a ring with you, but I want to use a moissanite stone’. Those jewellers will tell them to come to us and they will buy the loose stones from us.”