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George Prout

George Prout forecasts the election’s impact on holiday sales

Prout HeadshotWe recently witnessed a political revolution of epic proportions. The manner in which these events are likely to impact holiday jewelry sales is an important topic, so here’s my analysis.

Economic conditions during the past 8 years have been challenging in many areas of the country. While it’s true that we didn’t fall off a cliff (as it appeared might be happening in the 4th quarter of 2008, when retail jewelry sales dropped by nearly 40 percent), the fact nevertheless remains that the recovery from 2008 was uneven, and as a general rule, rural America has suffered disproportionately.

Applied Marketing 101: The tsunami approaches

George Prout examines the impact of lab grown diamonds

The extent to which change produces anxiety, from a neurophysiological standpoint, is well documented. Viewed biochemically, the human body’s reaction to anxiety triggers a “threat response” that can create a sense of hostility towards the source of the change, which in turn can lead to feelings of anger. It should therefore come as no surprise that many in our industry appear either to be in a state of denial over the changes that lab-grown diamonds will bring, or are so manifestly hostile to it that they seem unable to rationally consider the likely impact of this new product’s incipient arrival. In particular, many are voicing the opinion that this genie can somehow be put back in the bottle, or otherwise that attitudes and actions on the supply side can somehow prevent, or at least modify, the inevitable impact of lab-grown in the marketplace.

Applied Marketing 101: The Six Levels of Hybrid Brick-and-Mortar Internet Retailing Success

ProutRecently I’ve been thinking a lot about the impact of the Internet on brick-and-mortar jewelry stores. As I think back to the dawn of the Internet era, there was a sense at that time that this new, very nasty source of competition was going to annihilate regular retail stores. Fortunately for all of us, it didn’t happen, did it? But just as a frog in a pot of water will allow itself to be boiled if the temperature of the water rises at an extremely slow pace, similarly, I suspect that the insidious acquisition of jewelry market share by Internet retailers has occurred at a sufficiently slow pace such that we don’t realize that the water is about to boil. Indeed, I suspect that we will look back on the current retailing era and realize, with the advantage of 20/20 hindsight, that most retailers (as well as their suppliers) have pretty much been in a state of denial, thinking that jewelry retailing was just going to stay nice, stable, and unchanging.

Applied Marketing 101: Understanding the Trump Phenomenon and its implications for 4th quarter jewelry sales

As I write this, Donald Trump has just won the Indiana Republican primary, and has now become the presumptive Republican nominee for President of the United States. My Political Science professors from the distant past at Brown must be rolling over in their graves (unsurprisingly, they were nearly all Marxists!). This now sets up an almost indescribably delicious election cycle, as Trump and Hillary Clinton will duke it out during the next six months for all the marbles in what may be the most intense heavyweight boxing match in the history of American politics.

Applied Marketing 101: The view from Hong Kong 2016

ProutGeorge Prout shares what he learned at the recent Hong Kong Jewelry Show

As I write this, I am sitting in a hotel bar overlooking Nathan Road, the “Golden Mile” of Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui district, immediately across the Harbor from Wan Chai, home of the Hong Kong Jewelry Show. The Show isn’t quite over, but I bailed out on this last day a few hours early, exhausted (but pleased with the results) from my annual product development trip. So as I gather my thoughts and reflect on the events of the past five days, I thought you might be interested in the view from this exotic part of the world.

Applied Marketing 101: Dinosaurs, Dark Matter, Periodicity and Jewelry Trends

I’ve been spending time recently analyzing data from two jewelry megatrends that have had a significant impact on sales, at both the retail and manufacturing levels. I was fortunate to have identified each of these trends early (see “The Next Three Stone”, SJN/MAJN May 2013, on the vibrating diamond trend, and “Something Really Important is about to Happen”, SJN/MAJN Oct, 2015, on the Two Stone trend), and to have charted a course that took maximum initial advantage of each. Indeed, the ability to accurately forecast which trends will materialize, and which will not, is incredibly valuable, so I am constantly looking for new ways to interpret data in an effort to create mathematical models with predictive value. I recently learned of a fascinating new theory that may have answered several mysteries in the fields of cosmology and paleontology, which has actually caused me to think about trends in the jewelry business in a new way, and I thought you might find elements of that thought process interesting.