Jewelry retailer Pandora is banking on a bold brand revamp to restore luster to business and revive sales.
The makeover is playing out in its new store concept, dubbed, the “Expressions Store,” where shoppers customize jewelry at engraving stations, and “treasure tables” highlight new designs, influencer-inspired fare and best sellers — all in a bid to create an immersive, personalized and emotionally resonant shopping experience, and woo millennials, too, Charisse Hughes, chief marketing officer for Pandora Americas, told CO—.
The store in New Jersey’s Garden State Plaza mall marks the official relaunch of the Copenhagen-based company in the U.S., the biggest market for the global brand that’s sold in 100 countries via 2,700 stores and 7,500 points of sale.
The Expressions store, elements of which were tested in a pilot store in Leicester, U.K., is a key facet of Pandora’s worldwide brand relaunch this year, which introduced a new visual identity and redesigned logo, along with new merchandise and product collaborations with brands like Disney.
The rebranding comes as Pandora, known for its charm jewelry, works to get its groove back to counter a sales shortfall among brand devotees, just as nimble direct-to-consumer newbies entered the market, Hughes said.
Indeed, founder-led brands like Kendra Scott to Annoushkahave stepped into the jewelry spotlight, picking up market share along the way.
“We grew like a rocket ship, and were enjoying and basking in growth,” she said. As a result, “we took our eye off the ball regarding the consumer and what she wanted. We have loyal fans that engage with us, but then, in 2018, saw like-for-like growth flatten and eventually slide into negative territory,” she said. “We weren’t as attractive to our existing or new consumer.”
At the end off the day, Hughes said, “more brands are competing for share of mind, voice and heart.” That’s why it’s a critical time to “define more clearly what our brand is, who we want to be and how we want consumers to view us,” she said. “Consumer habits have changed. We have to make sure we’re connected [to them].”
Being able to curate for the consumer is so important nowadays. We need to be able to translate what they’re experiencing online from the comfort of their home, in store.
Charisse Hughes, chief marketing officer, Pandora Americas
Changed they have. For shoppers who can get everything and anything online, merchandise alone has become increasingly commoditized. “They have a lot more options,” Hughes said.
As a result, “consumers are totally accustomed to insane levels of data-fueled personalization,” according to a report from trend forecasting firm Trendwatching. “Now, they’re going to come to expect the same from the physical spaces they inhabit.” It’s forced retailers to create store environments that are “sentient spaces” to woo consumers drawn to physical spaces that “recognize and react to them, providing a personalized experience.”
‘Giving voice to people’s loves’
For Pandora to make that happen, love is the answer, Hughes says.
Stoking a rebirth is about tapping into the brand’s essence, which is “highly emotional and positive, representing the love, passions and places in people’s lives,” with jewelry designed to capture those memories, she said. “We are a brand about giving voice to people’s love.”
While that revival plan might sound more kumbaya-ish than strategic, Hughes says it’s just what’s needed to boost Pandora’s relevance to consumers throughout their purchasing life cycle and drive business, too. “A lot of different approaches are being taken to connect with consumers. We want to make sure we have a brand that has a life cycle with consumers that’s relevant throughout their life cycle as opposed to in and out of it,” she said.
Hughes admits that’s a bit of a juggling act. “Because we are one of the biggest jewelry companies in the world, we have to do a lot of things well and speak to different consumers with different messaging.”
For Pandora, whose demographic skews older, the road to newfound resonance is paved with stores that stoke discovery, showcase fresh design aesthetics and reflect the sensibilities of millennials and Generation Z.
To that end, it’s partnering with influencers like “Stranger Things” actor and activist Millie Bobby Brown to usher in the next generation of Pandora jewelry “to connect more closely with consumers as well as align our value and style set with these influencers,” she said. “A key aspect of that relationship is about relevance.” Brown is the face of the retailer’s Pandora Me collection, “a young phenomenal [voice] that’s so vocal about women’s empowerment,” Hughes said. “We’re encouraging young people to have a voice. We’re trying to embody their values and remain relevant.”
With Pandora Muses, for example, its global collective of women, including models and activists Georgia May Jagger and Halima Aden and artist Tasya van Ree, who the company says reflect the values it stands for, such as diversity and social responsibility, “Pandora has joined the topic of empowering women of all backgrounds,” Jane Hali, CEO of Jane Hali & Associates, in a research note.
Although late to the party, tapping data to highlight best sellers
Merchandising is both an art and a science with retailers increasingly relying on the latter.
They’re leveraging technology to go beyond gut hunches on what products will sell, translating data from shoppers’ digital and physical footprints into actionable insights to fuel business — but Pandora was lagging here, Hughes said. “We were not mining those insights as aggressively as we should have to understand the consumers’ behavior, affinities and purchase patterns, and how [best to] use all that.”
That’s now changed, she said, evidenced by the Expression store’s treasure table, for one, which features Pandora’s best-selling products — like its Timeless Elegance rings in silver and Pandora Rose and new O pendant — which is a first for the brand.
The tables showcase an edited mix of customer favorites, mimicking a signature online shopping feature. “We see it in e-commerce,” Hughes said. “Being able to curate for the consumer is so important nowadays. We need to be able to translate what they’re experiencing online from the comfort of their home, in store.”
Tell me a (personal) story
Also important is creating physical experiences that give shoppers a compelling reason to leave home, amid declining store traffic. The reality is that you don’t have to go to stores anymore, Hughes said.
Pandora, she says, is doing just that with a new commitment to “storytelling.” Treasure tables tell a holistic style story of an entire jewelry collection, from newness to classics, rather than a single item like a charm, ring or an earring. Influencers present the meaning behind the items that appeal to their passions.
At new engraving stations, shoppers can customize jewelry with initials and dates, which tell their story or the story of a giftee. To breathe new life into its charm business, a new touchy-feely Charm Bar encourages shoppers to flex their design muscles and indulge their creative impulses by mixing and matching bracelets and charms.
“Personalization is key at retail today and the model of bracelets and necklaces being personalized with charms makes sense,” Hali said, in the research note, adding that 70% of Pandora’s business is in bracelets and charms.
And in time for the holidays, the Gifting Wall presents curated and ready-to-gift sets that are arranged by gifting profiles, as well as display sets themed according to life’s special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, even “gratitude.” The idea is to “connect with consumers on a personal level,” Hughes said. “They can tap into and express who they are.”
The new store design will roll out to locations in the U.S., U.K., Italy and China.
As a “total jewelry universe,” Hughes says, “We are trying to remind people of what Pandora can mean and carve out a space in their lives.”
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Published December 10, 2019