By Abe Sherman

Other than circumnavigating closed roads, dodging fallen trees and downed wires and waiting in line for gas, for me this past week has been about waiting on a national election. Watching various news channels as the results came in (yes, our power finally came back on at 3 pm on Election Day!), I was most interested in how the analysts were breaking down the electorate by segment: Women, Hispanics, Gays, the Young and Old, Left and Right. But these broad categories were at the highest level of analysis.

The line by MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that caught my attention was “This election was a game of margins”. He was describing how increases and decreases of voting percentages within each of the above broad categories swung the election within counties and, in aggregate, therefore, within states.

The county-level red/blue voting maps were fragmented, especially in the swing states (look at Ohio), but ultimately, each of those fragments had to be rolled up. Incidentally, it wasn’t lost on me that this is exactly how we analyze data in Balance to Buy™, individual bits of data rolled up to larger and larger segments. But this isn’t about us; it’s about you, or more to the point, it’s about the makeup of your customers.

As I wrote about in March of the Millennials (released in June 2012), the population of young people is increasing. This is good for the bridal business, entry level jewelry and apparently, this President; but what about so-called alternative lifestyle marriages? Two additional states have approved gay marriages – is this a market for you? If not you, who is going to be selling these rings? What about your entry level bridal business, selling to all of those young people getting married who are just starting out? What are you doing to attract the entry-level jewelry customer in the first place?

What I left out of the March of the Millennials newsletter was that half of the increase in the Millennial population is Hispanic. Do you have Spanish speaking employees? Are you advertising to the Hispanic customer in your marketplace? Are you carrying more children’s jewelry? How’s your selection of crosses and neck chain in the kid-appropriate lengths? What about ads targeting the gay and lesbian community? Do you have merchandise that suits their tastes? Or, have you decided that you don’t want to sell to entry level, alternative lifestyle, or Hispanic customers?

While I’m on this subject, on November 7th, Pandora announced that its sales were up 11% globally (16% in the US) in the last quarter, putting to rest the prognostications from some that the brand is losing steam. The country wants what it wants – this is true for Presidential elections as well as for jewelry. Please take the time to understand who your customers are in your marketplace. Spend time reviewing each of the nuances of your marketplace’s demographics and plan to merchandise your stores based on those demographics – they may, like the country, be changing.