Al­lure of the new mil­len­ni­als

New con­sumer trends pre­sented an op­por­tu­nity for De Beers and An­glo Amer­i­can Plat­inum


Di­a­monds may be for­ever, but con­sumer habits keep chang­ing — and De Beers’ savvy mar­keters know just how to tap into the trends. With mil­len­ni­als (de­fined as peo­ple born be­tween the early 1980s and late 1990s) ac­count­ing for nearly half of the to­tal re­tail value in De Beers’ four largest mar­kets — the US, China, In­dia and Ja­pan — adapt­ing to their shop­ping pref­er­ences is cru­cial.

In the US, which ac­counted for slightly more than half of global pol­ished di­a­mond sales last year, mil­len­ni­als rep­re­sent about a third of the pop­u­la­tion, but ac­count for more than 40% of value, says Stephen Lussier, ex­ec­u­tive vi­cepres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing for De

Beers and CEO of Forever­mark, its high-end di­a­mond jew­ellery brand. “In China, they’re re­ally the driv­ers of the mar­ket,” he says.

There are three key trends in­flu­enc­ing mil­len­nial sales: the broader trend of fe­male eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment; the way mil­len­ni­als con­sume me­dia about prod­ucts and ser­vices; and their de­sire to buy goods that have been re­spon­si­bly sourced and make a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to the world, says Lussier.

One as­pect of fe­male eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment is that peo­ple are get­ting mar­ried later, and that they have much clearer ideas of what they want than was his­tor­i­cally the case. “They’re much more in­ter­ested in unique de­signs,” says Lussier.

Tied into the trend of fe­male eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment is the rise in self-pur­chase. “Par­tic­u­larly in the West, it’s not about gift­ing only; it’s also about ‘if you re­ally like that di­a­mond ring, buy it’. Women — both sin­gle and mar­ried — in­creas­ingly buy for them­selves.”

The mil­len­nial mar­ket also con­sumes me­dia about prod­ucts and ser­vices in a dif­fer­ent way. “This is the dig­i­tal gen­er­a­tion; they’re liv­ing in this world of so­cial me­dia, a world of ex­pe­ri­en­tial me­dia and mar­ket­ing. So we have to mar­ket to them dif­fer­ently than we have be­fore. We have to tell them sto­ries about our prod­ucts, rather than just tell them that they ex­ist, and we have to show how in­flu­encers are us­ing our brands and prod­ucts.”

The third big dif­fer­en­tia­tor is mil­len­ni­als’ de­sire for prod­ucts that were re­spon­si­bly sourced. “This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant in lux­ury be­cause no­body needs lux­ury goods, and if you want to en­joy the joys that come with own­ing them, you want to be pretty sure they’re do­ing good as well. And that’s a new era of mar­ket­ing,” says Lussier.

The plat­inum link

There is also scope for closer col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween An­glo Amer­i­can Plat­inum and De Beers to mar­ket plat­inum di­a­mond jew­ellery. “We be­lieve a di­a­mond is best set in plat­inum, so there is a lot of op­por­tu­nity for col­lab­o­ra­tion,” says Klean­tha Pil­lay, head of mar­ket devel­op­ment, pre­cious met­als at An­glo Amer­i­can Plat­inum.

Mar­ket­ing ef­forts, which ini­tially fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing a mar­ket for bri­dal jew­ellery in China, where wed­ding bands are not tra­di­tional, are now fo­cused on non­bri­dal jew­ellery and en­trench­ing plat­inum in some of the smaller tier 3 and 4 cities, Pil­lay says.

“The Chi­nese as­so­ciate plat­inum with love, so plat­inum is pop­u­lar for gift­ing — not in the cor­po­rate sense, but boyfriend-to-girl­friend; hus­band-to-wife; par­ents to a daugh­ter who lands her first job.”

Pil­lay says some sig­nif­i­cant work is un­der way in China and In­dia, both coun­tries that have been more fa­mil­iar with gold than plat­inum.

Plat­inum Guild In­ter­na­tional (PGI) — an in­dus­try-funded or­gan­i­sa­tion that pro­motes plat­inum jew­ellery — moved its head of­fice from Lon­don to Hong Kong in 2015 to re­flect the grow­ing im­por­tance of Asia for plat­inum pro­duc­ers.

In gold-lov­ing In­dia, PGI launched the Evara brand to grow de­mand for plat­inum jew­ellery. Evara, which means eter­nal bless­ings in San­skrit, cre­ated a range of bri­dal jew­ellery in plat­inum.

“What’s in­ter­est­ing is that it isn’t just about the jew­ellery that the bride would wear on the day; it also en­com­passes male jew­ellery, which is still a fairly big deal in In­dia. It also in­cludes gift­ing sets from the in-laws to the bride and/or groom; the two sets of par­ents to give to one an­other; and gifts for the ex­tended fam­ily. “Ex­chang­ing of gifts be­tween fam­i­lies that are com­ing to­gether is part of the wed­ding,” says Pil­lay.

Forever­mark: To­day’s dis­cern­ing woman wants more in a wed­ding band, with much more value and sen­ti­ment

Klean­tha Pil­lay: Plat­inum is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity in Asian coun­tries

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