Carving Out a Niche

Carving Out a Niche

This weekend I was traveling to a friend’s wedding in Bermuda. Out for a walk and listening to a book on tape (Trillion Dollar Coach - about the life of Bill Campbell - highly recommended!) I noticed a jewelry store that looked oddly familiar. The brand name was ‘DI - Diamonds International.’ I racked my brain for where I had seen the brand before and eventually remembered it was in Alaska, where for my Grandparents’ fiftieth anniversary they took my family on a cruise ship up north.

I thought to myself, “It’s uncanny that the only two places I’ve seen this store are in cruise ship ports and I’ve never seen it anywhere else.” Not having had many experiences on cruise ships before, I wasn’t sure if this was a pattern or if I was drawing a connection that wasn’t there.

Continuing to walk, I thought to myself further: Huh, that would make a ton of sense to set up a jewelry store in the ports where cruise ships routinely land. Passengers likely have similar socio-economic profiles, come from the same places, have similar buying patterns, etc. Jewelry is something that people tend to buy impulsively and why not get a ring or watch or diamond when traveling with family and loved ones. Often people are traveling to celebrate birthdays or anniversaries or similar occasions, making them a great customer of jewelry! Whoa - it makes total sense. Plop one of these in every cruise ship destination and I don’t see how you couldn’t make money.

Not wanting to let it go, when I got back home, I did a quick search online at DI’s locations. On their website, a quick look reveals that they only have locations on coastal cities (mostly in the Caribbean). Further digging revealed that all of the top 25 Caribbean cities for cruise ship visitors have DI stores. Wanting to really confirm my suspicion, I searched for any more information I could find. Lo and behold, this quotation from Gus Regev, Managing Director of DI Jamaica spells it all out, "The concept behind the company in Jamaica, and in general, is we put our stores in the cruise ship ports where all the big cruise lines are docking. When the passengers disembark they come into our stores. We do business with hotels, and sometimes with locals, but the idea behind the company, and 99 percent of our business, is coming from the cruise ships. We are always the number one recommendation for diamonds and jewelry on all of the cruise lines.”

What a simple and beautiful strategy in terms of carving out a niche with a known customer.

I can’t speak to any other aspect of the business, whether the jewelry is attractive or not, how their customer service operates (based on Google search results apparently not that well!), or what their actual level of profitability is. I can make a guess that since they’ve expanded to 100 locations in the last 20 years that something is probably going well for them, though.

It’s a great reminder to me there doesn’t need to be anything fancy about a great business. There doesn’t always have to be a game-changing innovation.

A simple strategy that is well-executed wins.