Golden opportunity: jewelry exports to Mexico
Mexico’s cultural and geographical proximity to Caribbean countries, combined with its market size, makes it a very attractive destination for Caribbean exporters. This is especially true for the islands’ jewelry makers, thanks to tariff benefits that increase the competitiveness of their products.
In 2018, Mexico was also the fastest-growing market for jewelry imports in Latin America, according to a 2020 forecast report drafted by IndexBox. The study indicated that there is an opportunity to increase consumers’ “everyday wearing” habit of fine and costume jewelry. As dress codes continue to relax, this is encouraging Mexicans to wear a combination of different jewelry styles.
One of the most recent estimates published by research company Euromonitor puts total jewelry sales in Mexico at around USD 1.8 billion, with costume jewelry accounting for two-thirds of the total. But local jewelers and other industry figures say fine jewelry sales are likely to be many times higher than those recorded by Euromonitor, perhaps three to five times higher, as many transactions take place privately to avoid taxes and money laundering alerts.
Mexico’s growing middle class and an influx of new brands in a brand-conscious country are two trends driving jewelry sales. Nearly half of Mexican households—14.6 million—could be considered middle class, according to Euromonitor, while another 3.8 million are likely to join them by 2030. At that rate, Mexico will have as many middle-class households as there are households in Spain put together. Two other important trends affecting sales are urbanization and a growing female workforce.
Exclusivity is highly valued by Mexican consumers. Jewelry makers should take note that this is a key aspect of product differentiation. Implementing limited edition runs of a product, whether limited colors and quantities and even a limited edition of a particular style of product, will tap into that incessant need consumers have to get it before it’s gone. On the same note, the Mexican consumer expects constant innovation with new models and designs launched for every season.
In terms of metals, demand is much higher for silver than gold. Consumers of gold jewelry represent specific niches willing to pay higher prices. Demand for 10, 14, 18 and 24 karat gold is the highest among senior citizens and those in high-income brackets. They are seeking exclusive designs and assign a greater value to products from Europe.
Younger women—often with modern and avant-garde tastes—consume a wide range of silver jewelry. In this segment, pieces tend to minimalist, with little if any embedded stones, with smooth, rough, woven textures, and round, conical shapes.
In this competitive sector, it is imperative that Caribbean jewelry makers take measures to protect their designs, registering them with intellectual property institutions. Piracy of jewelry and metal-based art is widespread with copied pieces made in pewter and alpaca sold at a price well below silver.
Mexico’s market for jewelry imports and precious metal or plated inputs for manufacturers is highly concentrated. In fact, just five countries represent 90% of Mexican imports. Mexicans buy 57.1% of their jewelry from the United States, 16.3% from Italy, 6.9% from Turkey, 5.3% from Spain, and 5% from Thailand. In the United States, purchases from 2015 to 2018 have significantly decreased by 19%, while general imports have increased by 3% in the 2017-2018 period, which clearly shows contempt for American jewelry.
Mexico’s main tourist centers, such as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Acapulco, and Mazatlan, are key geographical markets for exporters to target their efforts because they represent a concentration of potential buyers with high purchasing power and disposable income.
The months with the highest level of sales run from October to December, in the first place, and the months of February and May, in second place, with sales bolstered by the purchase of gifts for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
In terms of promotion aimed at end consumers, it is very specific and selective, especially since they are products aimed at niche markets. Large companies such as Cartier, Tiffany’s or Swarovski, have been very effective at positioning their brands among Mexican consumers.
On the other hand, jewelers strive to counteract the largest brands and seek to establish designs in unique pieces and try to convey at the point of sale to the final consumer that the product they acquire is a work of art, especially for exclusivity.
Among the actions that Caribbean jewelry exporters can spearhead to locate importers and/or distributors, the trade fair Expo Joya is one of the most reputable. Organized by the Jalisco Jewelry Chamber, the event brings together the main stakeholders in the gold and silver jewelry industry, including suppliers of inputs, machinery, and tools, watches, jewelry, and accessories.
If you decide to participate in an international fair like Expo Joya, we recommend that you set aside a few days for meetings with counterparts interested in buying your products, in addition to the days you will be attending the event. This will allow you to maximize your time and airfare. If you have a Mastercard Business Card, request your free coaching session to get started on setting up meetings with potential buyers in Mexico.