Gen-Z D2C Opps Update: Signet acquires Rocksbox amid surges in spend

Update: As part of its effort to shift its retail model, Signet Jewelers is acquiring D2C rental subscription company Rocksbox. Rocksbox allows consumers to rent costume jewelry online. The deal gives Signet better access to “self-purchasing women customers, a segment where Signet is currently under-developed." It will also hopefully improve Signet's connected-commerce performance. Additional details regarding this deal were not disclosed.

According to Pathmatics, Rocksbox has spent roughly $984.8k on digital ads so far this year. This amount has already reached 70% of the roughly $1.4m that the company allocated in all of 2020, and it's over 6x the roughly $142.9k Rocksbox spent within the same 2020 timeframe. The company's estimated full-year 2020 spend ($1.4m) more than quadrupled that of $263k in 2019. Rocksbox has earned around 146.3m digital impressions YTD via Instagram (83%) and Facebook (17%) ads.

Signet is primarily targeting Gen-Z women and gift-giving men via TV, paid social, Hulu and local broadcast. Judging by Rocksbox's sharp increase in spend and reliance on Instagram and Facebook advertising, it's safe to say the companies have very similar target demographics. Since Signet is such a major spender, it's likely Rocksbox's spending will also continue increasing.

Agency & martech readers - Signet may select brand-specific shops for its newly-added brand; however, nothing else points to upcoming reviews at this time. Right now, the company's roster includes MediaCom NY (media), Conversant (digital), Badger & Winters (Zale's AOR), Zimmerman Advertising (Kay's creative) and McKinney (Jared's creative).

Read more details regarding Signet's recent strategy and spend shifts in the article below.

The article below was originally published on March 29:

Diamond jewelry giant Signet reported record-breaking earnings last week, its best holiday sales season in nine years. Its full-year revenue is expected to hit $6b, and its eCommerce sales grew by 71%.. CMO Bill Brace disclosed that the company shifted to an omni-channel mix, focusing on eCommerce to support retail sales, before the pandemic broke out. Signet's leaders have made its shoppers' digital experience "more human" and their store experiences "more digital" in order to help their diamond purchases become less intimidating.

The company debuted virtual consultations, of which it's already conducted over 300k. Its photographic techniques were amplified so that buyers can zoom in on diamonds 40x their real sizes to check for imperfections. It also added visual search and enhanced its personalized design options in order to help customers create unique items. According to CMO Bruce, these efforts helped people during the pandemic who "are looking to celebrate relationships"; jewelry sales have surged in absence of travel, elegant dinners and nights on the town. 

Over the past several months, Signet's marketing team has grown with the hires of marketing director Dan Hines (January) and digital marketing specialist Michaela Protenic (March). These additions make me expect the company's marketing spend, particularly via digital channels, to continue rising (more below).

View iSpot's estimations of recent TV spend for JaredKay, and Zales here. As you can see, Signet's investment in this channel has dropped significantly. It has not advertised Piercing Pagoda via this channel within at least the past three years.

Pathmatics reports that Signet (all its brands combined) has allocated roughly $8.4m toward digital ads YTD. Its spend has already reached 63% of the roughly $13.4m it allocated within all of 2020, and it's almost 3x the roughly $3.3m the company allocated within the same 2020 timeframe. Signet's estimated full-year 2020 spend ($13.4m) dropped only slightly (5%) from that of $14.1m in 2019. The company has earned around 1.2b digital impressions so far this year via Instagram (59%), Facebook (21%), YouTube (16%), desktop display (3%) and mobile video (1%) ads.

As Signet's earnings rise, I expect its digital spend to continue doing the same. You probably noticed that this increase in digital ad spend has at least partially been made possible by lower TV spend; this shift, along with its reliance on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube advertising, shows that the company's primarily targeting Gen-Z right now. I've also noticed Hulu ads for Signet's brands. It typically targets women and gift-giving men, especially around Valentine's Day, Christmas and wedding season (Q4-Q2). Per Kantar data, Signet also utilizes local broadcast but hasn't invested in OOH media since 2019, at least as of 2020.

Agency & martech readers - I suggest you look for more promising opportunities elsewhere for now. Signet currently works with MediaCom NY (media), Conversant (digital), Badger & Winters (Zales's AOR), Zimmerman Advertising (Kay's creative) and McKinney (Jared's creative).