In ancient Greek mythology Pandora was the first woman on earth. In 21st century Australia Pandora is the jewellery brand for “every woman”.
In the Greek myth Pandora opened a ‘box’ and all the evil contained within escaped across the earth leaving only hope inside.
In Australia the opening of Pandora’s ‘box’ has released nothing but ‘hope’ for jewellery retailers desperately looking for something new to attract customers through the door.
Since its establishment by Per Enevoldsen in Denmark in 1972, Pandora has grown to become a major brand in more than 22 countries around the world including the United States, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Thailand, and of course, Australia.
The company’s now ubiquitous charm bracelets enable women to build their own unique designs from Pandora’s 500 plus collection of beads î º each handcrafted from 14 carat gold and/or sterling silver and combined with precious and semi-precious stones and Murano glass beads.
Karin Adcock, a qualified school teacher with practical experience in building project management, party plan selling and running her own business, launched the brand onto the Australian market in October 2004 after hearing about it from a friend in Denmark.
“I flew to Denmark as soon as I could and told Pandora that I was interested in the product and thought it would do really well in Australia,” she recalls.
Although Karin had no previous experience as a jewellery wholesaler, she believes her enthusiasm for the product and the fact that she was Danish (she moved to Australia 13 years ago) and her initial ideas on how to launch the concept were enough to convince the company to give her a chance to prove herself.
“They told me they were already talking to interested parties but would talk to me in a couple of months time when I had created a business plan,” she says.
‘I returned to Australia with one bracelet and immediately enrolled in a TAFE course to develop the business plan as I wanted to prove I really was capable of doing it.”
Two months later Karin returned to Denmark with her plans. Pandora executives were impressed and she became the official distributor for the brand in Australia and New Zealand.
Karin then began the long and arduous task of trying to convince Australian jewellers to stock the Pandora concept in their stores.
‘I knocked on the doors of around 150 jewellery stores around Australia but nobody wanted to stock it,” she says.
“A lot of jewellery stores said ‘that’s nice but it’s not for us’. They said it was too fiddly, too low priced and too much of an overnight fashion, etc.
“Despite their negative response I knew I had to get it in somewhere so I approached some gift stores and was relieved that they were prepared to try it.”
Slowly she convinced increasing numbers of giftstores and then jewellery stores to take on the brand.
At the start of 2005 the brand was in just six stores in Australia, in 2006 it was in 87 stores and in 2007 it was in 287 stores.
Today the brand is in more than 500 stores across Australian & New Zealand.
Secret of Success
Karin believes Pandora’s success can largely be attributed to the uniqueness of each bracelet.
“Every woman has an inner desire to create her own look to represent what her story is and what she is passionate about,” she says.
“Every Pandora bracelet is completely unique so even if a woman is in a room where five other women are wearing a Pandora bracelet she feels her piece is still special. For example, for one woman the bracelet may symbolize her successful fight against cancer, for another it might be a celebration of the special events in her life, and for another if might be a reward for every kilo lost at the gym”.
She says the unique look of each bracelet combined with the fact that the charms can be purchased one at a time has for the first time made fine jewellery shopping an affordable luxury for almost all women.
“The feedback from jewellery retailers is that we have got traffic back into the stores,” she says.
“Some jewellers have told me that Pandora’s the best thing that’s happened to the market in the last 10 years.
“We have put the browse factor into jewellery stores. Most people don’t normally walk into a jewellery store to browse but they will now walk into a jewellery store to buy a $50 Pandora bead and while there they might look at the watches and other jewellery items.
“The frequency of the bead purchases also means that for the first time retailers are having a lot of time to build relationships with customers who will most likely then buy their big occasion purchases like wedding and engagement rings at their store.
“Pandora has in many ways broken down the barriers at the jewellery store’s door.”
Pandora has recently opened flagships stores in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne and is planning to roll out franchise stores in the coming months. “Franchise stores will first and foremost be available to existing Pandora stockists,” says Karin.
She says the company needs the flagship stores to show retailers and the public “100 percent of what Pandora has to offer”.
“The flagship stores are also the optimum brand environment, where consumers can go and fully understand the Pandora experience.”
She says the flagship stores have generated increased interest in the brand and are helping increase, rather than cannibalise, sales of existing Pandora stockists.
“In the QVB there are six stores within 150 metres of our flagship store and they’ve all experienced phenomenal trading since we opened despite their initial concerns.”
She says the franchise stores are being opened by jewellery retailers in the company’s existing wholesale network who have decided to focus solely on the Pandora brand.
She stresses that other stockists need not worry that the flagship and franchise stores are going to negatively impact on their Pandora sales.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without our existing network so we are not going to go in and ignore our retailers and just open flagship and franchises across the board,” she says.
“It is in our interest to make sure that all our stores succeed.”
Karin is determined that Pandora will remain an important name in the Australian jewellery market for years to come.
“A lot of people are constantly asking me ‘how long is this going to last?’ and it is a question I often ask myself,” she says.
“I firmly believe that Pandora is here to stay although in five years we might not sell as many beads and bracelets as we do today. We have much more to offer in our range, and more and more stores are introducing our complimentary concepts and collections.”
“Pandora is a unique concept, which has truly been embraced by the market and it is difficult to put a time frame on the brand’s longevity, as there are no precedents to compare the success of Pandora too.
“We need to make sure that if somebody wants to buy a necklace or a pair of earrings they think of Pandora as an option,” she says.
“We want to be a brand that comes to mind when people are thinking of jewellery in general.”
The company currently has three main design lines – beads and bracelets, matching jewellery (rings, pendants), and mix ‘n’ match earrings – and is planning to expand further with the launch of an 18-carat gold collection later this year.
“We are now saying to retailers and customers that: ‘Pandora is more then a bracelet, Pandora is a universe of jewellery’,” says Karin.