#21interviews: Consumers are investing to connect

TFG group director, Shani Naidoo, says consumers are still investing in jewellery to connect with loved ones or treat themselves.

Luxury brands have suffered this year as shopper spend shifted to essentials and comfort, but Shani Naidoo, TFG group director, tasked with the home and luxury brands portfolio, says consumers are still investing in jewellery to connect with loved ones or treat themselves.

Naidoo heads up operations in nine countries in Africa, as well as looking after 400 jewellery stores and the GStar denim and Fabiani menswear brands. In December, TFG broke new ground with the launch of its first pure play brand Galaxy & Co. The South African jeweller is now the go to site for young at heart customers offering fresh, youthful collections at accessible price points online. The group’s two other jewellery brands, Sterns and American Swiss, launched their online stores in August. TFG has over 4,300 stores in 31 countries, across Southern Africa, the UK and Australia; and 31 retail brands that trade in fashion, jewellery, accessories, sporting apparel, cellular, homeware and furniture.

1. Are consumers buying jewellery?

Consumers are buying jewellery. When times are tough, and especially in the year we are currently going through, relationships, memories and being with loved ones becomes even more important. Consumers gravitate toward jewellery as meaningful gifts for loved ones and for themselves. Jewellery is a celebration of love and because it is long lasting and not a disposable item, we have found that in this Covid year, jewellery is in fact more highly valued and more attractive.

2. Where is your market status now, in terms of recovery?

Customers stopped coming to malls from mid-March and jewellery stores were not allowed to trade during the lockdown months of April and May, so jewellery sales were effected for that 10 week  period. Since we were allowed to reopen stores in June, there has been a steady increase in jewellery purchases. There might be fewer customers in our stores, but those customers are buying more, so conversion rates are up. TFG is still recovering lost sales – we won’t recover the full 10 weeks mentioned above, but customers are looking for jewellery and are buying into our offers.

3. What have you noticed about changed consumer behaviour?

There are fewer consumers in malls especially the bigger malls; and consumers are buying closer to where they live, so some of the smaller neighbourhood malls are seeing better foot traffic. When people do go to malls, they go with very specific intentions, and this leads higher instore conversion rates. Value for money has becoming increasingly important and there has been a tremendous growth in the number of customers shopping online. TFG’s jewellery division has launched three online jewellery stores this year: American Swiss, Sterns and our first pure play site – Galaxy & Co. There has been unbelievable interest in our jewellery product on these sites and our customers are definitely moving more towards shopping online

4. As a retailing leader, what has challenged you the most over the past 10 months?

We have been challenged by the unknown aspect of the crisis as the pandemic is not something any of us has faced before. Our key challenge was to keep our people safe. Our frontline store staff were the first to have to open our stores and face our customers, so we ensured we were over-prepared with the appropriate PPE – masks, sanitisers, etc. Stock deployment was also challenging as we were not able to receive or transport out stock during lockdown, so restocking wasn’t easy and we had to ensure we had good value items ready for Black Friday ,as well as for Christmas. We have now recovered from our stock issue, so our primary concern remains the health and safety of our staff and our customers.

5. What does the luxury retail market segment need to do to prepare for 2021?

The luxury retail market needs to offer good value for money. Gold and precious metals will continue to be desired items. They need to appeal to the customers’ need to connect to loved ones, make and celebrate memories. These are life-changing times for many and jewellers need to connect with the heart of the consumers.

6. What is your prediction for the marketing and retailing industry for 2021?

More consumers will be browsing and shopping online; there will be more pure play competitors to emerge in all categories; retailers will need to offer better, quicker service; and retailers will need to be even closer to their customers.



For more insights from retail and brand leaders in the #21interviews series publishing 1-21 December 2020, ahead of 2021:


#21interviews LAUNCH: 2021 comes with a disclaimer, by Louise Burgers, Publisher & Editor, RetailingAfrica.com.

#21interviews: Brands need to get brave, says Bozoma Saint John, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Netflix.

#21interviews: The power of being purpose-led will drive brand value, by Karin Du Chenne, Chief Growth Officer Africa and the Middle East, Kantar.

#21interviews: Plan for growth in 2021, says Herman Botha, Group General Manager, PNA Group.

#21interviews: Next year will be all about authentic visual immersion, by Craig Bellingham, Founder & CEO, Studio[K]irmack.

#21interviews: Covid has created a brand vulnerability, says Elouise Brink, Senior Marketing Manager, Country Road, Woolworths Holdings.

#21interviews: Reimagining a better world without the inequality of ‘normal’, with Economist and Author of the post-pandemic book, FutureNEXT, Dr Iraj Abedian, talking to Retailing Africa Publisher & Editor, Louise Burgers.

#21interviews: Embrace technology at all levels, says Thabani Maluleka, Business Development Director for Rogerwilco.

#21interviews: It will not be business as usual, by Dave Nemeth, Trend Forecaster & Founder of at Trend Forward.

#21interviews: Lessons from an unprecedented year in retail, by Jonathan Hurvitz, CEO, Teljoy.

#21interviews: Beware ‘Covid fatigue’, by Guy Yehiav, General Manager, Zebra Analytics, part of Zebra Technologies.

#21interviews: Be deliberate in listening, says Zizwe Vundla, Marketing Director of Diageo South Africa, talking to Retailing Africa Publisher & Editor, Louise Burgers.

#21interviews: Critical factors for retail growth, by Enver Groenewald, Group CEO, Ogilvy South Africa.

#21interviews: The future of micro-commerce in Africa, with Vahid Monadjem, CEO and Founder of Nomanini, talking to Retailing Africa Publisher and Editor, Louise Burgers.

#21interviews: Plan for a ballet of black swans, by Rachel Irvine, Founder & CEO, Irvine Partners.


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