PANDORA is my current ‘brand crush.’ Hand made, personalised, sparkly jewelry. What’s not to love? But PANDORA is also a phenomenally successful global brand – and it’s the business lessons you can draw from studying the company are what fascinate me – far more than its beautiful, individually crafted charms.
The impetus for this week’s article, Business Lessons From Pandora, comes from a talk I went to in September, hosted by Red magazine as part of their #ThisIsASmartWoman week. Hosted at the gorgeous PANDORA townhouse in Central London, the final talk was an opportunity to ask sales and marketing executives, Kate Walsh and Jane O’Keefe, what makes an iconic global brand.
Before we dive into the business lessons we can draw from PANDORA, I want to stress that, just like your business, every iconic brand started life as a tiny seed of an idea. Their beginnings were generally inauspicious and very humble. Apple started life in Steve Jobs’ garage, a long way from the sleek experience the company offers its customers now! However owners of global businesses like Steve Jobs, Sir Richard Branson and Per Enevoldsen learnt how to nurture their seed idea incredibly well, negotiate the inevitable setbacks and over time, mastered the art of running a business.
So whatever stage of business you’re at right now, know that if you just take that next step – and then the next – and then the next – your business WILL grow. And once you have momentum on your side, your business potential is unlimited.
An Overview of Pandora’s History
Over the last 10 years, PANDORA has become a global sensation, with some 10,300 retailers in more than 90 countries, across 6 continents. In 2011, one piece of PANDORA jewellery was sold every second! Now the third most successful jewellery brand, after Tiffany and Cartier, PANDORA traces its roots back to very humble beginnings. In 1979 when goldsmith, Per Enevoldsen and his wife, Winnie, opened a small jewelry shop in Copenhagen. The couple often traveled to Thailand in search of jewellery to import. As demand for their products increased, they shifted their focus from retail to running a wholesale business.
To ensure control of their own designs, in 1984 the couple made a major commitment to their growing company and opened their own production facility in Thailand, PANDORA Productions. At the same time, Lone Frandsen was hired as a designer, and the company began to focus on creating its own unique jewellery brand. In 1987, the company discontinued its retail activities altogether to become strictly a wholesale dealer.
In 1996, goldsmith and designer Lisbeth Enø Larsen, joined the company and, together with Lone, she played a key role in defining the ‘PANDORA style.’ 2000 saw the launch of PANDORA’s charm bracelet on to the Danish market. Created with the idea of “one charm for every unforgettable and charmed moment in your life,” this signature product was the catalyst for PANDORA’s subsequent success. Women loved being able to customise their bracelets from hundreds of handcrafted sterling silver, 14K gold, and Murano glass charms, which they could easily add on because of PANDORA’s unique patented threading system.
The Enevoldsens spent the first two-thirds of their 30-plus years in business honing its business model, brand and mission – to make high quality, personalised jewelry accessible – before taking their business global. They focused on creating a vertically integrated company with in-house design, manufacturing, global marketing and direct distribution all carried out and therefore quality controlled by the company itself. In 2003, PANDORA started trading internationally in the US, and in 2006 they launched their first concept store in Hamburg. In 2009, the company created its first franchise opportunity.
Commenting on PANDORA’s remarkable growth, Per Enevoldsen said:
2014 marks a significant milestone in Pandora’s history. During the past five years we have managed to build on a promising business model to construct one of the most successful jewellery brands in the UK. Five years ago when we first launched in the UK, we were a small player in the market with 250 wholesale accounts – today’s picture is much brighter; with over 120 concept stores in all the right locations, we are now the UK’s leading jewellery retailer.”
Success definitely did not come overnight!
The Importance Of Knowing Your Customer
When asked to explain PANDORA’s phenomenal success at the #ThisIsASmartWoman event, Jane O’Keefe attributed this to one key factor - really knowing and understanding the customer. Because PANDORA invests heavily in market research, it really understands the consumer psychology behind each of its different customer segments. The company has also built very close relationships with its customers through its PANDORA Club and social media activity so it’s able to get immediate feedback and insights on what is – and isn’t – working, and why.
Let’s look at what other business lessons we can draw from PANDORA’s success.
Business Lesson #1 – The Founder Mastered The Art Of Being A CEO
Per Enevoldsen started out as a goldsmith running a small family based business. You don’t create a business like PANDORA without really taking the time to really master what it takes to run a business. When researching this article, I could only find one interview with Per Enevoldsen – at least in English – and so couldn’t gain any further insights into his own entrepreneurial journey. However I suspect that it was in part the attention to detail that comes with being a craftsman that gave Enevoldsen an instinctive understanding that business was an art to be mastered.
Business Lesson #2 – An Iconic Product That Generates Ongoing Sales
I mentioned earlier that PANDORA is known for its individually crafted charms made of silver, gold, gemstones and glass. These are highly prized by customers who collect them to make their own jewellery creations, primarily bracelets. Customers love being able to add charms to their bracelets that have personal meaning to mark a significant event like the birth of a baby or a new job.
But the real genius in this strategy is that customers and their relatives return repeatedly to their stores to purchase new charms as gifts. And so the sale of one charm bracelet will lead to the sale of multiple charms.
Business Lesson #3 – A Scaleable Business Model
Franchising has allowed PANDORA to grow very rapidly and expand in to other countries far more quickly than might otherwise have been the case. This is a very cost effective option as all the set-up costs are borne by the franchisee. The other main advantage to operating a franchise business model is that, although franchisees are ultimately working for PANDORA, they’re not a fixed cost to the business. Instead they are partners and this reduces the company’s costs significantly.
Business Lesson #4 – Phenomenal Attention To Detail
From extensive market research and detailed profiling of their customer psychology to a comprehensive selling process that means all staff are trained to sell in ‘the PANDORA way’ to a substantial budget invested in mystery shopping to the presentation of the products, the highest level of detail is paid to every all aspects of the business. As a result, there is a very high level of quality control in this company.
Business Lesson #5 – Pride In Its Craftsmanship
What really impresses me about PANDORA is that craftsmanship is central to its values. The decision to build its own production facility means that the company can control every stage of the manufacturing process and guarantee quality. But the company goes far further than this. It is playing a role in preserving ancient crafts, like the 1,200 year tradition of making Murano glass on an island in Venice.
Check out this beautiful short video which demonstrates PANDORA’s pride in its craftsmanship brilliantly.
Business Lesson #6 – Corporate Social Responsibility Pays
PANDORA takes the ethical sourcing of its core jewellery materials very seriously. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not a marketing gimmick; it’s central to the company’s values, and enshrined in its CSR and compliance programme. PANDORA Ethics, an internal CSR Steering Committee, headed by Per Enevoldsen, ensures that PANDORA lives up to the strictest ethical standards.
Nowhere are PANDORA’s value more evident that in the way it runs its manufacturing facilities in Thailand. There have been too many stories of poor working conditions and human rights abuses in Asian factories. This report from a visit to Gemopolis explains how PANDORA is setting a benchmark in the way it looks after its employees.
Why Am I Telling You PANDORA’s Story?
Quite simply, my intention is to inspire you to believe that, wherever your business is right now, you can, if you so choose, take the next step in scaling up and creating a phenomenal business. It’s a question of being highly intentional, and highly focused about your key activities.
Join the Conversation
Question: Do you have a ‘brand crush’ and if so why this particular company? I love to hear your thoughts, so please let me know in the comments box below.
Explore Additional Resources
If you enjoyed this post, then you may also like:
- The Power Of Momentum In Business
- The 9 Characteristics Of A Successful Brand Strategy
- The Six Keys To Running A Successful Business
Prior to becoming a business consultant and coach, I have 25 years’ experience in business, including 8 years as a former CEO. This experience is backed up by training at Cranfield School of Management, the UK’s leading business school. With experience in business planning, financial management, risk management, building strategic partnerships, product development, marketing (including PR) plus leading and developing staff teams of up to 150 people, there’s very little I haven’t had to deal with or experienced.
You can find out more about working with me HERE. Or alternatively email me on firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an informal chat over coffee. There’s no hard sell. Just solid advice and a straightforward, honest assessment of whether 1:1 business coaching or business consultancy would be a good fit for your business, the results you can expect and how to get started.
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