Market Research for Your Bead Jewelry Designs

Market research is an organized and objective way of learning about your customers and your competitors. In order for your bead jewelry designs and your jewelry making business to be successful, you must know the market you intend to sell to.

Market research involves exploring the marketplace, finding out what a customer wants and needs and determining how you can meet those wants and needs, it also involves finding what is missing and then filling that niche.

To most jewelry designers, just hearing the word "market research" makes them cringe thinking that they must invest thousands of dollars and months of researching and compiling information and statistics. This formal kind of research is necessary if you are investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into your business, for most jewelry designers it is probably neither necessary nor feasible. But every business no matter how small must do some kind of market research even if its in an informal way.

Even conducting an informal market research will take some of the mystery out of selling and to help find out when and where and how and to whom you can sell your jewelry. Although you may have the best jewelry in the world, it will not sell unless you can find a market that will be interested in your designs, and find a way to reach that market.

The following are some of the few points in which you must discover before you should design and sell your jewelry. It's wise to put answers to these questions on paper; as you can use the information to help complete your marketing plan.

Do you have a salable product at all?

You must investigate the current demand for the style of jewelry you make, or whether a demand could be generated when these items become available. Do people really need what you're making? Can customers easily get what you make from someone else, perhaps at a lower price than what you would have to charge to make a profit? Is your jewelry unique or is the market already saturated with the style of jewelry you want to make? You will probably find that the competition is stiff so your designs have to be unique something that is different from what is already out there.

Who are your potential customers?

As part of your market research you will need to know what is the profile of your typical customer (i.e. age, sex, location, interests, education, etc.)? In investigating your potential customers, you must consider who will wear your jewelry. In finding the answers to these questions ask yourself: Who do you think would probably buy your jewelry, or who are you making your designs for? For example do you want to reach sophisticated, professionals? Young and funky? Everyday or party wear? Maybe bridal or prom jewelry?

Which is the best way to reach this market?

Once you have identified who your customers are, or to whom your jewelry is appealing, you can then cater to the taste of this typical customer and seek the best ways to reach him or her.

The next questions now are: How do you plan to distribute your jewelry to your customers (i.e. craft shows, wholesale to retail outlets, specialty shops, your studio shop, holiday boutiques, party plan, website, etc.)? How will you inform customers about your jewelry? What forms of promotion and advertising would be most effective for your home jewelry business and what about promotional materials (business cards, flyers, brochures, pamphlets, catalogues, etc.)? Nothing can kill the success of a product faster than it being marketed to the wrong audience. Your success in selling will largely depend on how well you have done your market research to find the right market to reach your potential customers.

What is the competition is doing?

For your market research you need to know what your competition is doing. You will learn more about what is selling where, to whom, and at what prices by carefully observing the competition. Once you have an idea of what you want to make, surf the net, attend as many shows, go to as many stores, and seek out as many other points of sale as you can for the same style of jewelry as you wish to market.

Compare carefully. Are the competing jewelry designs better than yours? How do they rate price wise? Will you be able to make a profit charging a similar price? Are these competing products more attractive? Are their designs better? What about the craftsmanship and materials? There is a lot of competition for jewelry, so unless your jewelry compares favorably with those you have found, rethink what you intend to do. A thorough analysis of your competition should include the following questions:

  • Who are my competitors?
    Are your competitors jewelry made using the same techniques you do (i.e. do they make wire jewelry, handmade beads, stringing, weaving or stitches, hemp work, etc.?)
  • What product lines do my competitors carry?
    Are your competitor's jewelry pieces functional or decorative? Do they sell the same style of jewelry you plan to produce? How does your jewelry compare to your competitors', including price, quantity, quality, and craftsmanship? How can you make your jewelry designs different or better than that of the competition?
  • Who are their customers?
    Are their target customers the same as yours? What selling points can you use to win these customers? or, How can you alter your jewelry designs to reach a different target of customers?
  • Who is prospering or just surviving and why?
    Why are some succeeding and why are some losing or failing? How can you take advantage of these strengths or weaknesses in learning what or what-not to do?

The information you gather for your market research, from observing your competitors will help you when making future decisions on what to sell, for how much, and to whom. It will also help you when deciding on which market route to concentrate more on, such as more craft fairs, more retail shops, maybe even diversifying your market to include home-party plans, holiday boutiques or online sales.

Who Should Do Market Research?

Most jewelry designers make a habit of making what they want to make, then try to find people to buy it. If you sell your jewelry just for the fun of selling, then you probably won't require any market research. But if you're serious about selling — and want to make money — you should make every effort to find out what the marketplace wants or need, then, try to produce it. If you expect to make a living from your jewelry, you must not only have a quality product, but you must also design what is marketable.

There is a great deal of competition in jewelry, and to succeed you must know what you're doing. If you fail to grasp the importance of such things as market research, record keeping and promoting your jewelry business, you will likely not make any money selling your jewelry.

Many jewelry designers think that market research is only for big companies with big budgets, while all they want to do is make and sell a few handmade jewelry items. If you only plan to sell a few items then there is probably no need to bother about researching the market. But if you want your business to succeed and make substantial profits, then you must sell your jewelry in significant quantities. In order to sell in significant quantities you have to know the market, you have to know what people want to buy, you have to know where these people are, how to reach them, and how to let them know about you.

You will have to narrow your target customer, because your jewelry designs and business are so personal you will not aim to sell to everyone, or use big advertising campaigns. No jewelry styles appeal equally to everybody. You must work to develop the markets where your ability and designs will be appreciated — markets that fit you and your jewelry. Once you have learned which group of buyers is drawn to your work, you must then aim you designs specifically at pleasing that group.

Market research can be very important in helping you to avoid later disappointment. If you investigate beforehand, you will find that your efforts at marketing will have a much better chance for success. When you know what is happening the jewelry business, you can see how your products fit into the picture and make changes accordingly. A customer or retailer will ask you about your jewelry and you can briefly tell him or her what research you have done on the subject; you will be able to say quite truthfully that yours is the best of its style available, or the only one available, or the only thing like it sold in the area.

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