Travel Retail jewelry & watch makers aim to lure Millennials with “Luxe for Less”

By Lois Pasternak


I had the opportunity to attend the massive JCK Jewelry show in Las Vegas earlier this year, where not surprisingly, even exhibitor’s in the luxury areas said they were focused on luring youthful buyers with affordably priced merchandise, much of it awash in color.

As reported in the JCK Daily on June 1, the emphasis this year was on fun over formality, and many exhibitors were promoting price point collections “replete with colored stones, streamlined designs and plenty of movement…intended to entice contemporary buyers.”

Post-show, JCK reported that new luxury looks this year include gold chains (ongoing and growing), big earrings, cuffs, vintage and vintage-inspired looks, and animal prints, which they said are still trending big for fall.

On the fashion front, JCK says that bold and chunky jewelry of all sorts will be big in the Fall/Winter 2018–19 fashion shows.

As for the Millennial market, or what JCK calls the “it crowd,” the organization reports on a study of shopping habits by *MVI Marketing on consumers aged 25–40. The study surveyed 1,001 female Millennials with an annual household income of $75,000 or greater.

Among some key findings, 51% of respondents said they purchase jewelry for themselves and plan to buy new earrings or a necklace this year. Diamond jewelry was the most in-demand style, followed by colored stones, said the study. White gold was more popular than yellow gold, followed by silver and platinum.

Travel retail, naturally, reflects overall industry trends but what are some of the specific styles and materials we can expect to see in airports, cruise lines and other travel venues?

TMI spoke with three popular travel retail jewelry and watch brands to get their take on the coming market trends and how they are appealing to both Millennial and, perhaps even more promising, Asian travelers.

Speaking about trends in general, Buckley London’s Head of Sales & Marketing, Amy Donlon; Infinity & Co. Sales Director Neil Thompson, and Christian Hoffmann, Marketing Director of Capella Industries AB, maker of the popular Lambretta Watches, tell us what they see ahead for these accessories in travel retail.


Trending now

Buckley London’s Donlon sees a shift away from heavy stone set products to sculptural metal, which creates a new contemporary way to grab the customer’s interest, she says.

Buckley London has had great success
with its I Love You bracelet and destination
charm bracelets.

“Faceted stones have always been an effective way to catch the customers eye …[but] Buckley London is very excited to be introducing our take on this new emerging trend in the future. Subtle sparkle has always been our core DNA, and we have thoroughly enjoyed taking on this new challenge for our customers!”

For Infinity & Co.’s Thompson, Rose Gold continues to be a very popular color, even though it is not a new trend, he notes.

“The traditional trends for silver tones in Northern Europe/Scandinavia and gold in the Middle East/Africa also remains consistent. Size of jewelry has some regional variations with statement jewelry being more popular in the Americas and finer more delicate designs more popular in Asia.”

Thompson also sees a move away from ‘accessory’ based jewelry normally designed to coordinate with fashion

collections in stores, towards a more ‘real’ fine jewelry look that is manufactured to emulate the quality of precious metals and natural stones.

Looking at watch trends, Hoffmann notes a move toward innovative materials, plus smaller and thinner watch cases, domed glass, creative dial designs, unique watchbands, smart quick-release pins for easy changing of the straps – features that Cappella has implemented into its new Lambretta Watches and Tick & Ogle collections, he says. More specifically, Capella features distressed vintage leather and suede straps, and even premium rubber straps made from recycled tires in the new Lambretta Marco 40 collection.


Pursuing the Millennial

All three companies are actively pursuing the younger, traveling consumer.

“We have taken the inflight opportunity to develop products which can also be seen as keepsakes for young travelers,” says Buckley’s Donlon. “We have received a great response from our ‘I Love You’ bracelet – so we developed this concept further in a ‘Wanderlust’ theme making it an ideal accessory for any younger customer who is traveling.”

Buckley has also made specific design changes to appeal more to this youth demographic, says Donlon.

“We have expanded our current main range with individual colorful, bright charms and multi charm bracelets/necklaces in destination themes from around the world. We’ve currently developed Eastern Wishes (Middle East), Paradise (Around the World) and Fiesta (Mexico). We plan on developing many more fun-themed charms with travel inspiration after a great response to our current ones. We have thoroughly enjoyed designing and developing these products but are not forgetting about our key identity as a brand.”

Infinity & Co. has also received an excellent reception to its carded message collection ‘Love X Infinity’ which specifically targets the traveling consumer.

Infinity & Co. talks to traveling Millennials with its carded jewelry.

“Our research told us that many people, not just the younger generations, are trading in a lifestyle focused on material possessions for a lifestyle based on accumulating experiences. The age of social media and the increased access to travel has created a generation where travel and experience are more appealing than a routine 9-5 career.

“Our brand Love X Infinity (LXI) is a collection of over 200 jewelry designs each presented on a card with a humorous/sentimental message specifically designed as an accessible inexpensive gift for the traveler. For example, we have globe pendants with the message ‘Work, Save, Travel Repeat’ and a whole host of nautical and travel themed designs and messages.

The very nature of travel retail dictates that the normal rules of seasonality and customer demographic is more fluid and therefore it is important to consider when designing jewelry collections that all customers are considered regardless of their age or nationality,” he says.

Infinity & Co. is not specifically designing items for a younger demographic though, he says.

“We try very hard to create collections with universal appeal. Within both of our brands we feel we have designs and affordable price points that appeal to most consumers. Naturally some of the more humorous messages contained within our LXI collection are designed to appeal to a younger traveler. Having said that, with attitudes becoming younger and younger we’ve seen excellent sell through in retail locations that would typically appeal to a more mature consumer. We think it’s very difficult to design jewelry to appeal to a specific age group. Jewelry is, and should be, an emotional purchase, something that catches the eye and creates the perfect self-purchase or a gift for a loved one.”

Capella is reaching out to the younger consumer through marketing as well as through its products.

“Young TR consumers enjoy novelties and uniqueness, such as TR Exclusives. They are looking for products they can’t find in every store back home. And, of course, give priority to good value for money.

“Since this is a social media savvy audience, we are working with many influencers and bloggers that are promoting our brands all over the globe,” says Hoffmann.

Capella’s new Lambretta Marco 40 collection

Many of the company’s new watch designs are developed with the younger customers in mind, like the Lambretta Marco 40 and T&O Bloom 34 collections, but in addition, Capella will be launching two Lambretta Limited Edition collections, each of which was uniquely designed by a famous Swedish influencer. One, Foki 34, was released this summer, and one will be launched later this year.

“The main target group for our two new influencer’s Lambretta Limited Edition collections is young. Both the influencers’ followers are mostly youths and young adults, and these eye-catching designs match that perfectly.”

The influencers are using the watch collections to communicate messages of their own, he adds:

“Foki Soirak, born in Thailand, is donating the full profit of her Foki 34 collection to charity; to build new schools and a brighter future for less fortunate children in Thailand. The other influencer (whose name cannot be revealed at this point) has a strong passion for feminism, which clearly is seen in her unique timepiece designs,” says Hoffmann.


Appealing to the Asian traveler

The Asian traveler—especially younger Asian travelers—are a key market for all travel retail products.

All three companies are taking steps to make their products as attractive to this growing market segment as they can.

“At Buckley London we accommodate for Asian travelers in many ways. Our adjustable bracelets with a slider toggle ensures one size bracelet will fit all Asian customers. We have received a great response from airlines with bracelets being our bestselling product inflight.

“We also supply a variety of products in different plating colors as we’ve recognized this to be a popular demand from Asian travelers. We also supply exclusive, personalized pieces like our ‘Palace’ charms,” says Donlon.

Infinity & Co. sees the Asian market representing a great opportunity for all brands, not just jewelry.

“It is clear that quality European and American brands are seen as premium and something that, in particular, the Chinese consumer aspires to. Within the jewelry category there are some very practical issues that require attention when preparing collections, for example, size of bracelets and rings (much smaller in Asia), the fact that many Asian women do not have pierced ears, certain aversions (or attractions) to colors, numbers, animal charms etc.,” comments Thompson.

“Asia also has a very different promotional calendar than the typical European/American markets with Chinese New Year being a major selling opportunity. At Infinity we have worked very hard with local partners to market our brands and create collections that appeal to a broad cross section of Asian consumers, including Lotus Flower and Crab collections and bespoke point of sale equipment tailored specifically for an Asian consumer. The Asian market is a specific focus at Infinity & Co. and a region we will continue to support for the foreseeable future.”

Capella, too, is creating a portfolio that will appeal to the Asia traveler.

“We have a very wide range of products which allows us to afford product of different price points to different sectors, enabling us to cater specifically to the pricing demands of the various travel retail markets.

“With today’s passenger mix changing, especially in Asia, people are looking more for affordable luxury brands, and this is exactly what Lambretta Watches and Tick & Ogle can offer,” says Hoffmann.

All three companies will be showcasing their latest collections at TFWA in Cannes.