Why one jewellery brand thinks offline media ‘no longer makes sense’

German jewellery and watch retailer Thomas Sabo is increasingly shifting its spend from magazine placements to media that is “easier to measure”.

When you think of a jewellery or watch advert, chances are you’re remembering something you’ve seen in a magazine. For years, print has been the go-to media choice, but for German jewellery retailer Thomas Sabo, magazines and other forms of offline media “no longer make sense”.

Over the past three years, the brand which is perhaps best known for its charm bracelets, has been shifting more and more of its budget to online media and influencers, where it says it is “more clear what our reach is”.

“We have a bigger chance to measure all the things we do online; everything we do offline is really hard to measure,” explains Bernhard Schmidt, head of online communication and content, speaking to Marketing Week.

“It’s not even about a better ROI. When you’re advertising in a magazine you have to pay a lot of money and at the end of the day you can’t really see if it has any impact. If it’s a collaboration with an influencer you can see how many people you reach within their customer or fan base and so I’m quite sure that I reach them and it has an impact on my brand and brand awareness,” he adds.

But even if offline media was easier to measure, Schmidt says it is unlikely Thomas Sabo would start spending more on magazine placements.

Retailers have a future on the high street but it’s about how you connect the online and offline worlds.

Bernhard Schmidt, Thomas Sabo

“It’s a question of what you think of and believe in,” he says. “I don’t think so many young people are reading offline magazines anymore. If you want to reach a certain kind of user group that is middle aged or even older, it might make sense to go in print media. But as soon as it comes to younger people I don’t think it makes sense having any bookings in any media offline.”

That includes out-of-home, “unless you have a lot of stores in a city”. But even then, Schmidt says outdoor advertising should be “really fancy” and include things that consumers can interact with, such as artificial intelligence and QR codes.

Thomas Sabo is another example of a retailer cutting spend in offline media and putting its trust in online. Next is upping its digital budget by 125% next year, part funded by a dramatic reduction in spend in print, TV and direct mail.

This is in spite of various effectiveness studies showing that marketers often overestimate the effectiveness and value of digital media channels such as online video and social media compared to more traditional formats.

Catching consumers in the mood

Like many retailers, Schmidt says the business has struggled with the shift from offline to online.

“Retailers have a future on the high street but it’s about how you connect those two worlds. In the current time, we’re very static in terms of when the shop is closed you don’t have any further options of interaction.”

Thomas Sabo is trying to figure out how to use its high street stores as a “selling point” that will “seamlessly” lead a consumer to purchase online if the store is closed, and make sure that they buy from Thomas Sabo and not from another retailer that stocks its jewellery like House of Fraser or Selfridges.

“Because when they’re interested in that moment and want to buy, we have to get them,” Schmidt adds.

“When they get home, 90% think about it and think ‘OK it’s jewellery, it’s not the thing I really need’ but if you get them in that mood when they’re really willing to buy it, we have to give them the opportunity to extend the product and lead them to the online shop.”

Thomas Sabo has over 300 stores and operates in more than 75 countries, including Frankfurt (its flagship store), London, Berlin, Nuremberg, Stockholm, Paris, Las Vegas, Toronto, Hong Kong and Sydney.

Schmidt is in charge of a 24-strong online team responsible for ecommerce and managing the global online shop, as well as making any ideas the marketing team have work online – from social media to email marketing.

While it is a global brand, it operates locally for certain markets when the time is right. For example, it launched products for Chinese New Year last year and placed them in cities with a heavy Asian population, including London, Frankfurt and Paris, as well as Tokyo, which Schmidt says resulted in a “big footfall”.