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Diamonds marketers, retailers are dragging our industry down

Behavioural analysts, researchers and social commentators have written profusely about the different generations of consumers and their buying habits. The buying habits in the jewellery industry are changing, especially in relation to diamond purchases.

Older generations of Australian women coveted jewellery, precious stones and diamonds, and owned pieces either handed down through the family or had pieces gifted by somebody who loved them. Most of us grew up with mothers or grandmothers who matched that pattern.

There are probably people who subscribe to that view, however many younger people don’t have the same attitudes that the store managers or jewellery marketers expect of them. Younger people don’t subscribe to the same values that their mothers or grandmothers held.

Marketers believe that everybody aspires to drive the best car or own a ring over 1-carat and it is naïve. Some marketers are more sophisticated than that, but many are still falling into the trap of assuming that their consumers are behaving in ways that the market wants them to.

If you’re a consumer and you’re looking at four competing jewellers on one street, and each of them is telling you, “Don’t trust the other jewellers’ diamonds” or “My diamond is the best” or “Blood diamonds are an issue” (even though in fact, the number of blood diamonds in the world has shrunk immensely), then the consumer will lose trust in the industry as a whole. Buying blood diamonds isn’t so much an issue anymore, but marketers still talk about their diamonds as cleaner or more responsibly sourced than their neighbours.

Some of these jewellers have sold diamonds for generations, and have only recently started claiming some individual superiority over their competitors in the diamond category. Until recently that argument only related to grade, cut or colour of diamonds. We’ve got to remember that most consumers have only just got used to the four Cs.

"The concept of disparaging the category is seen as a legitimate marketing ploy by many of the bigger brands and this is translating to marketing tactics used by retailers."

Stating that “each of our diamonds are ethically sourced” has added another benefit to the established four Cs. Now they are marketed for this additional, intangible benefit.. Consumers are no longer just buying a diamond of their chosen size, colour, clarity and cut, but beyond the flash on their finger, it’s giving them that warm feeling in being able to say “I’m a good person because I buy ethical diamonds”.

It becomes incredibly confusing for consumers to have to deal with the idea that one diamond may be cleaner than the others and when jewellers damage the category, they ultimately damage the brand in the long run. Unfortunately, the concept of disparaging the category is seen as a legitimate marketing ploy by many of the bigger brands and this is translating to marketing tactics used by retailers on the high street.

For every customer that embraces the branded diamond as cleaner than the others, or somehow better than the rest, marketers must also take responsibility for engendering insecurity in the marketplace that diamonds might not be clean or in some way cannot be trusted. This may well have a negative and measurable impact on diamond sales in years to come and probably is already having a dramatic impact on sales.

If the bigger companies want to continue to sell premier products, they need to spend their marketing in regaining consumers’ trust. If they don’t take time and approach it with smart marketing, rather than simplistic marketing, they will continue to cause distrust among consumers in that industry.

It’s very difficult to convince consumers to come back to a category that they have walked away from.

Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why many of the big jewellers are looking to open multiple shops in countries that represent new markets, because it’s easier than worrying about convincing western consumers that have already moved on in terms of loyalty of aspirations.

You don’t increase airline travel by saying that flying isn’t safe. Just as you can’t market diamonds by “saying ours are better and other brands or companies cannot be trusted.”

We need to work hard to regain the trust of consumers under the age of 30, because they are the ones whose values in relation to jewellery have changed. If we cannot win them back, then they will start looking at other gemstones or synthetics and it will be hard to draw them back.

Name: Hugh Kronenberg
Business: Kronenberg – Breathtaking Gems
Position: Director
Location: Sydney, NSW
Years in the industry: 6 years


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