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Editor's Desk

Beware of being caught up in jewellery marketing jargon

Regular readers will be aware that I am not a fan of buzzwords. You know the type of thing – terms such as thought leader, empower, sea change, drill down, engagement and journey, just to name a few. And it’s even worse when it’s politically correct marketing jargon.

A buzzword is a word or phrase that becomes very popular for a period of time. They often already exist – hijacked to take on a new meaning – or they can be newly created. I believe the latter has become more regular and prominent in the digital economy, where buzzwords are ‘invented’ to describe things that already have a perfectly acceptable descriptor.

My current pet hate is emails from people who have ‘reached out’ to me. What ever happened to plain old ‘contacting’ or calling me?

It would not surprise anyone that, as a journalist, I respect language. It’s our profession, our stock in trade – we are sometimes described as wordsmiths - and we aim to communicate in a simple and effective way.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against language changing or evolving – it should. However, I’m not in favour of change for change’s sake, or where the change is used to mask another meaning or surreptitiously attempts to put a positive light on an issue.

Journalists receive dozens of emails every week from public relations consultants saying, “I’d like to share this press release with you.” The word ‘share’ is an example of a hijacked word in the digital age.

My view is that you ‘share’ lollies, a bottle of wine or even a taxi. Sharing is about doing something that you’re not obligated to do; however, if you work in marketing or public relations then your job is to contact journalists and provide them with information. You aren’t ‘sharing’ anything – you’re simply doing your job!

The good news is this sort of stuff comes and goes. Remember the terms ‘cyber’, ‘information superhighway’.

What about the ‘metrosexual’ male, do you remember him? He didn't last too long, did he?

"Over the years we have seen attempts to create new jewellery buzzwords as a way to re-define products and/or services that already exist. That is, the new term adds no discernible benefit to the industry or consumer and in some cases causes confusion."

Or what about an immersive experience? Did you have one of those today? Have you heard of actionable insights? Well, no, nor had I until recently, though I might add, I still have no idea what they are. Nor do I care!

It's corporate claptrap.

Over the years we have seen attempts to create new jewellery buzzwords as a way to re-define products and/or services that already exist. That is, the new term adds no discernible benefit to the industry or consumer and in some cases causes confusion.

One recent example of a buzzword creeping into the industry is ‘demi-fine jewellery’.

What is it? Well, it’s simply up-market fashion jewellery. In truth, it’s nothing but a new marketing term to describe products that already exist! Why isn’t it named ‘semi-fine’? Well, ‘demi’ sounds more intriguing, right?

That one aside I recently came across another buzzword: non-gender watches.

Say what? Yep, that’s right, non-gender watches – but wait, isn’t that just a ‘unisex’ watch?

This is a perfect example of marketing claptrap because the word ‘unisex’ was coined in the 1960s to describe things that are not gender-specific and are suitable for either sex. So why change something that doesn’t need changing?

Well, apparently a research firm says, “It’s time to rethink the watch gender divide”. Why? Because a new watch trend is emerging – “non-gender specificity”!

The firm says, “Historically watches have been labelled ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’, but several factors are changing this dynamic, resulting in a merchandising opportunity for retailers.”

Rubbish! It’s claptrap; unisex watches are not new, they’ve been around for a long time.

The only thing that’s new is politically correct jargon. Why change something that doesn’t need changing? There’s no 'divide', unisex watches are exactly what they are meant to be, product for men and women.

All too often these buzzwords - and their more sinister counterpart, weasel words - are invented by people who are trying to make a name for themselves.  Indeed, last year I came across a person who had trademarked their job title.

I kid you not! The marketing person had created a phrase which he believed described his job and then went as far a trademarking the term.

It's nonsense. Mind you, there are times when we need to re-think terminology, especially in the jewellery industry. We have seen it happen with gemstone nomenclature and, more recently, diamonds as a result of technological advancements.

So I am not against language evolving. In fact, we recently had to consider an issue given that the Australian parliament passed the Same Sex Marriage Act last December.

For years we have referred to ‘bridal jewellery’ however, some marriages and wedding ceremonies these days do not involve a ‘bride’.

And because ‘bridal jewellery’ is often used as a catch-all phrase for engagement and wedding rings and, increasingly, matching jewellery for the bridal party, perhaps it’s time to change the descriptor to ‘wedding jewellery’.

It’s a great example of why language needs to evolve or change, for good reason rather than because someone is trying to be clever.

Coleby Nicholson

Former Publisher • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson launched Jeweller in 1996 and was also publisher and managing editor from 2006 to 2019. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than 20 years and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

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