June 2016

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Closing the Generational Gap

How the millennial generation views diamonds, and how retailers can appeal to them

Millennials are a completely different creature than their parents were before them, and even more so than their baby boomer grandparents, to whom the slogan “A Diamond is Forever” inspired millions of dollars in sales of diamonds, and launched a market frenzy of diamonds as the stone for engagements. Today’s generation is not only not as interested in marriage as those before them, but those that are, are getting married later than ever before. According to Pew Research, just 30 percent of millennials are married, down seven percent from Gen X, and nearly 25 percent from the Baby Boomer generation.

Another factor that weighs in on millennials’ purchase of luxury goods is their life view. They are much less traditional than the generations before them, which means that a diamond doesn’t hold the same meaning for them as it might have for their parents. They also tend to value experiences over material goods, meaning that they are more likely to save up for an exotic vacation than for a diamond ring. The changing view of millennials also lies in their independent nature. In the baby boomer generation, when diamonds were highly popular, men traditionally went out to work and women stayed home, making his gift of a diamond to her an insurance policy of sorts. Today’s generation all work, and equally share in the financial burden. Therefore women tend to buy themselves jewelry if they want it, not waiting around for a man to buy it for them. They are more independent. This means that an item that was once a highly sought after prize, is now just another “nice” item to have.

This view has presented a unique challenge to the diamond industry that they haven’t had to face before. Companies like DeBeers, the leading diamond retailer, have had to cut prices by nine percent. This has led to the creation of the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), a conglomeration formed from seven of the leading diamond companies who have banded together in order to figure out a way to catch the attention of the millennial generation. Gearing ads towards this generation is the first step in the process. Video advertising campaigns on digital platforms and social media networks are a necessity to reach these consumers. In addition, the marketing idea itself needs to be looked at in a whole new light. With the experience-driven millennial consumers in mind, marketing diamonds purely as anniversary and engagements gifts is not the answer. Instead, marketing them as a way to mark milestones of a personal nature is the way to go. A diamond pendant to mark a graduation, or a pair of diamond studs for the birth of a child, a tennis bracelet bought on a Paris vacation, all connect the jewelry to a personal experience or milestone.

According to a top market analyst, forging a new campaign to win over millennials is long overdue, and even more so, a critical necessity if the diamond industry is to survive. Because today’s consumer has been so overexposed to traditional advertising methods, finding the new “A Diamond is Forever” is of the utmost importance to the future growth of the industry.

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