Given the economic roller coaster we’ve all been on the past two years, many independent jewelers have stepped back and taken stock of how they do business. Whether they’re looking for ways to cut their budget, or are trying to generate new, unique sales from previously untapped markets, small business owners have spent many a night contemplating the best way to keep their businesses open and thriving.
Fine jewelry manufacturer Kim International Manufacturing (KIM) is no exception. Despite their 36 year history of manufacturing and distributing more than 10,000 different styles of jewelry to 10,000 clients, the last few years have brought about big changes for the company.
“When my dad started this company he built the business one customer at a time in order to establish a solid client base,” recalls Mike Kim, president of the company and son to B.K. Kim. “Today we have a different focus. We’ve adapted the way we do business in order to accommodate the needs of our customers and, today we focus on clients who’ve remained loyal to us for so many years rather than creating new customers.”
It wasn’t more than four years ago that KIM’s management team sat down to consult with the most important facet of their business - their clients. For the first time in years the manufacturer started asking them questions like: Which products sell consistently? What can we do to help you?
Mike Kim recounts how he and his counterparts did more listening than speaking during the research phase of their adaptation, and they learned a great deal.
“What we heard over and over again was bridal is always a consistent seller, and we discovered that retailers prefer to work with a sales force instead of a catalog when it comes to choosing bridal product.”
With those new discoveries in hand, the company sat down and reevaluated its primary focus. Never before had KIM concentrated on bridal. Sure they’d carried bridal product, but it was buried in the pages of their massive 10,000 product catalog. They quickly realized they’d never given bridal the focus it deserved.
Deciding to make bridal its primary focus, they introduced the Romance™ Bridal Collection in 2008. Designed to sell between $2500 and $3000 with the center stone, the company relied on their China-based factory to produce the new line. Owning the factory meant clean, consistent, high quality pieces delivered in a timely manner. To the retailer it meant fresh styling and quality workmanship at a tremendous value.
Romance™ pieces are stamped with the Romance™ trademark and the collection is complete with an extensive marketing campaign including: custom showcase displays, program catalogs, TV commercials, high-resolution images and exclusive marketing rights so retailers can use Romance™ as their “house brand.”
Following on the heels of the collection came the patented specialty cut called, you guessed it, the Romance Cut. With 90 total facets and more spark than a NASCAR race, the Romance Cut is meant to help independents fill the name brand niche that larger stores boast of.
“Some independent jewelers don’t have access to the extreme upper-end brands like Leo Schachter and Hearts on Fire, so we’ve created the Romance cut at a price point their customers will love. This allows them to offer a patented cut that is branded without breaking the bank.”
In addition to creating their own bridal line, KIM shifted the way they thought about their current client base. Recognizing the value of building stronger relationships with current clients, the company created a specialty team of bridal sales people and decided to take the new line to its customers in person. No more relying on their catalog to do the selling, they decided it was time to spend more time with the people they value most – their clients.
Adapting the way they looked at their business has not only increased sales, it has also given new life to the once seemingly “scattered” product listing. Today KIM has grouped its products into collections including: the Romance 925 CZ Sample Program, the Gabrielle Bruni Collection, the Eleganza Collection, the Tessoro Collection and their Basic Jewelry Collection.
When the economy tanked two years ago, the company was quick to respond with the Romance Petite Bridal Collection, offering the same great styling and quality as the Romance Collection but at half the price. The Romance Petite Collection retails between $1500 and $3000 with center stone and, today, makes up over 50% of the total bridal sales for the company.
“Being responsive to customers’ needs allows us to thrive and take a wonderful, well-established company and make it new again. We like to say it’s the same old KIM in a new way. The independent jewelers are our future. Their success ensures our success and we want to give them tools to compete.”
For a complete list of available collections please visit the KIM website at www.KimInt.com or call 800-275-5555.