The primary subject matter of this case concerns the challenges of establishing a brand within the jewelry industry where appropriate positioning of the business and establishing a credible brand are the main emphasis for new business entrants. Secondary issues examined include: understanding luxury consumer segment, consumer behavior, and creating an integrated marketing and communications plan. The case has a difficulty level appropriate for senior and graduate level. This case is designed to be taught in two (2) class hour or as a mini group research project and is expected to require at least of three (3) hours of outside preparation by students.
In July 2009, Mia Pezzi started a new silver jewelry line: TZEN Boutique. The TZEN line was created in response to the recessionary market and consumer demand in a high-income, metropolitan area of Chicago. This new silver line focuses on quality sterling silver jewelry that uses quality semi-precious stones and unique designs. As a newly launched jewelry line, TZEN was looking to build its brand name and establish its business positioning in a highly fragmented and competitive market. There are numerous challenges and hurdles to starting a new business especially during an economic downturn, however, there are also opportunities for specialty retailers to gain market share. Consumers are more discerning and apt to engage in research prior to making a purchase decision. This provides new businesses with enormous opportunities to enter the market and fulfill demand that the traditional retailers do not meet.
At the end of July 2009, Victoria Haubergh, a marketing consultant and a freelance PR specialist, was preparing to present her plan and recommendations for the management of an emerging jewelry brand, TZEN Boutique, at Mia Pezzi's Chicago, Northbrook office. Victoria had been tasked to determine the entry strategy for its first advertising campaign in the Chicago area. She had spent the last few months researching and analyzing the jewelry industry and started to promote the new brand with other emerging artisan brands in Chicago. TZEN Boutique's intent was to build and establish a meaningful brand connection with jewelry consumers in Chicago. If successful, TZEN would look to a national expansion program within the next 5 to 10 years.
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY OF MIA PEZZI AND TZEN BOUTIQUE
With a desire for unique design and an interest in jewelry, Julie Liu, a 27-year-old Chicago GSB, MBA graduate and a former hedge fund manager, decided to start her own jewelry company. Liu grew up playing with rare gemstones while most girls were playing with dolls. The daughter of a ship's captain who traveled the world in cargo ships, Liu would gaze at the variety of colorful "rocks" her dad would bring home to her mom from these trips. Little did she know, these were not ordinary rocks, they were magic rocks that always made her mom happy (Liu, personal communication, January, 14 2010).
A lover of art and jewelry, Liu began playing around with gemstone pieces her father had in his collection. She had an eye for combining colors with designs that were simple, yet impactful. Soon, her friends began asking her to design jewelry pieces. Despite a successful career in finance, she realized that in her heart she had always wanted to start a company. Liu in 2008 launched her first collection, Mia Pezzi (Liu, personal communication, January, 14 2010).
The formal Mia Pezzi collection features one-of-a-kind jewelry using diamonds, gold, rare stones, high quality precious gemstones and pearls. Liu's initial focus was to attract a small clientele with an appreciation for one of a kind jewelry. Customers of Mia Pezzi are mainly women between the ages of 45 to 60 years of age and high household income. They appreciate exclusive and luxury brand names, and are willing to pay a premium for bold designs and quality jewelry to express their sense of individuality. …