TV Shopping: The Good, The Bad and The Opportunity

Television shopping has been around for more than 30 years. There are several shopping channels dedicated just to Jewellery and gems, which are one of the more popular product categories. This is a huge market segment where sales are calculated in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars PER HOUR. What effect does this have on our industry and, more importantly, your business?

The Good
The jewellery and gem shopping channels are constantly seeking more profitable items to sell; often avoiding the Big Four (Diamonds, RubiesSapphires and Emeralds), in favour of lesser known gems. This brings consumer awareness to many interesting and beautiful coloured gemstones. Most of these gemstones have very comfortable price-points and are affordable to the average consumer. The TV shows usually have very liberal return policies to make the consumer feel safe in making a purchase.
Afraid of deceptive description and misnomers?
The Bad

In order to romance these gemstones they often use deceptive descriptions and misnomers. Even though Morganite and Emerald are both from the Beryl family it is deceptive to call Morganite a “Pink Emerald.”   Several of the TV vendors did not disclose treatments until forced to do so by lawsuits. Even then, they do not disclose the limitations of the treatments; such as colour-coatings on gems can wear off or be removed by standard cleaning processes resulting in a complete loss of colour. Even when they use proper nomenclature and disclosures their products are often of low quality or over-priced.

The Opportunity
When I had a retail store I loved the TV shopping channels. I watched them and studied them as often as possible. Every time they featured a new gemstone I would be sure to have that stone in stock in better qualities and usually at a better price. When a customer came in with their television purchase, either to ask questions or have it set into jewellery, I was ready for them. First I would compliment them on their interest in unusual gemstones. I would calmly and diplomatically correct any misinformation that they got from the TV hosts. Then I would show them what a good example of that gemstone looked like, without mentioning price. Or course they would ask for the price, expecting it to be much higher. When I told them that my better looking gemstone was the same or less money than the one they bought from the TV, they were usually shocked and dismayed.
At that point I would pull out the proper return forms (I collected them from all the shopping channels) and a shipping box already addressed to that particular shopping channel. All the customer had to do was fill out the form and drop the box in the mail for a refund. I made many sales and developed valuable relationships with consumers that were interested in unusual coloured gemstones. I was able to leverage the shopping channel’s excellent marketing to help build my business. You can do it as well.

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