Last updateTue, 20 Aug 2019 10pm

Retailer Roundtable: Do female self-purchasers account for a significant portion of your business and if so what do you do to attract them?

RR Ketterman“We do have a large number of female self-purchasers, probably 70 percent of the number of sales, and 50 percent of the dollar numbers. We call what we do ‘girlfriend marketing.’ We have a sales staff made up primarily of women, of the 25 sales associates two are men. As a girlfriend, we can shop alongside of them [women] and encourage them to be good to themselves – ‘no one deserves it more.’ We also carry lines that allow a woman to feel comfortable purchasing for herself. For the bigger items, she fills out a wish list and allows her husband to be the hero. We have a repair and design shop in our store that gives us access to tricks and techniques that allow us to cater to the most discriminating ‘hard-to-fit’ clientele. We carry high-end fashion jewelry and accessories that ‘he’ might not think she needs but ‘she’ knows she wants.”

Tammi Ketterman, co-owner
Ketterman Jewelers
Leesburg, VA


RR Hancock“A customer that just walked out of our store is the perfect example of a female self-purchase. She’s in her mid- to late-50s and is looking to retire soon. She has the house and car paid off, and is a professional woman that travels a lot. She purchased three diamond eternity bands so she could stack some rings instead of wearing her large solitaire on business travels. This customer just wanted to spoil herself a little bit before she retires, a time when she anticipates not being able to make such purchases. Ninety percent of our jewelry is for women. Since we’re a big bridal store, a lot of that inventory is for women receiving engagement rings and related bridal jewelry. But this December we’re doing ‘Finding Santa,’ a social media contest on Facebook. When customers participate in the contest, they’ll see a lot of mainly diamond fashion jewelry. We’re not going after the female self-purchase market specifically with this contest. But for the ladies that don’t get the items they want for Christmas they certainly have the option to come in and purchase it on their own.”

Ashley Hancock, owner
Hancock Jewelers
Goodlettsville, TN


RR Bennett“We’ve been responding to this market for the last few years as we’re seeing it continue to grow. Ours is a fine jewelry store with more discerning customers. Part of appealing to the female self-purchase market is carrying better quality jewelry that’s on trend. That’s what this customer group likes most about us. We dip our toe in the water to see if a style or trend does well. If customers respond well, we jump in and own it. But the main thing is staying on top of trends. That’s important for this group of customers. Also, I’m from an older generation, and I’m noticing that women of today’s world are more empowered. They don’t wait for husbands or boyfriends to buy them jewelry. Women today also set their sights on something they want, make it part of their goals, and then strive to make that purchase. This group of female customers comes from all walks of life, from those doing partial payments on layaway, to those that make a single payment with a check or credit card. They can also be recently married, recently divorced, never married - professional or working class. This customer group runs the gamut and we have a lot of fun with them.” 

Rich Bennett, co-owner 
PK Bennett Jewelers 
Mundelein, IL 


RR Commers“I’ve been catering to female self-purchasers since I started my business many years ago. What I’ve noticed about this group is over time they’ve become increasingly aware of designs they want instead of coming in to a store and selecting from an inventory of finished goods. Many women come to me with images of jewelry taken from social media websites, namely Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. I update my social media pages as frequently as I can as well as my website. In Google searches, I typically rank in the top-10 of a search-result list. Based on my Google reviews - and there’s a lot of five-star reviews which women mention - and the niche I’m in here, the Twin Cities market, the female self-purchaser seems to find me. Referrals have also been huge for me. With 75 percent of my business being custom work for women, I have a number of business goals for 2019 that I think will help increase sales to the self-purchase group. Next year I’m hiring a business coach to review my customer base and do more outreaches to them via e-mail blasts through Mailchimp. I also want to identify, isolate, and categorize my top female clients and hold events specifically for them while better serving customers that come to me for repairs and jewelry set at smaller price points.”

Sara Commers, owner
Commers Custom Jewelers
Minneapolis, MN



RR Longnecker“We don’t specifically target each customer as a self-purchaser. For us, basic salesmanship is treating each customer that walks through our door as a self-purchaser, until the sales associate determines otherwise. Targeting the female self-purchaser isn’t something we do specifically, but our situation is unique. In a town of 7,500 people and I’m the only jeweler in town now. The other independent jeweler went out of business last year and JC Penny closed in 2017 too. Now it’s just our store. Although we need to be all things to all people, that doesn’t mean we don’t keep the female self-purchaser in mind. Starting next year, we’re going to make big changes to make shopping here a better retail experience, which is important to women shoppers. And, our custom design business, which half are female self-purchasers, mainly for restyling, so we’re already there for this category. Although we’re in a unique position, I would advise other jewelers in larger markets, ignoring the female self-purchase demographic will hurt your business significantly.”

Bill Longnecker, owner
Longnecker Jewelry
McCook, NE