“As many couture jewelers could attest, attracting a young engagement customer can be a challenge when you’re perceived in the marketplace as being ‘high-end,’ ” says Nancy Mann, CEO of Mann’s Jewelers in Rochester, N.Y.
To overcome that obstacle, the store recently held its second annual Platinum Proposal Contest, teaming up with a local radio station, a performing arts center, and Plano, Texas–based bridal brand Sylvie Collection.
Using a mix of social media, radio commercials, and street teams (composed of radio interns in bridal attire) distributing fliers in town, Mann’s put out a call for New York–based couples ages 18 and older to write their love stories in 300 words or less and upload them, plus a picture, to PlatinumProposal.com. The judging panel—including Mann, two local disc jockeys, and the 2011 winners—edited down selections to the top 25. Then the public judged the stories online.
Platinum Proposal winners Kristen Tracy and Josh Dennie get ready to ride off into the sunset in a Mann’s Jewelers checkered cab.
The grand-prize winners—Kristen Tracy and Josh Dennie of Syracuse and Webster, N.Y., respectively—received a $12,000 Sylvie platinum engagement ring featuring a 1 ct. round brilliant center diamond with a bezel halo setting and channel-set stones on the shank. Two finalist couples, also selected through public votes, were awarded a private party and VIP box seats to a local Kelly Clarkson concert.
“This contest provided an entertaining way to interact with the bridal market,” Mann says. “It was, essentially, a fun and unexpected branding campaign. We were able to marry the name Mann’s Jewelers with engagement in the minds of customers who are in the consideration phase of the ring-buying process. We not only measured bridal sales—up 15 percent—but we also monitored the buzz and the press, both of which were significant.”
While prizes were provided free of charge, the technology costs associated with the contest were anything but. Mann’s enlisted a third-party sweepstakes company to prevent fraudulent voting and to draft a legal document explaining the official contest rules.
Mann’s chose Sylvie as its partner in the contest because after three years of selling the brand, the retailer knew its jewelry resonated with customers.
“The Sylvie Collection has done a terrific job reaching out to the bridal market and creating a desirable brand,” Mann says. “In fact, Kristen had her eye on the prize-winning halo style even before entering the contest. Her now-fiancé, Josh, recognized it as the ring she had been admiring and that’s what encouraged him to enter the contest.”