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Interview with Forevermark CEO

By Rob Bates, Senior Editor

Posted on January 14, 2011

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Stephen Lussier, the CEO of Forevermark and De Beers executive director, very generously took some time to speak with me today about the expansion of the Forevermark into the U.S. market:

How should people view the latest changes in De Beers’ U.S. advertising? 

De Beers’ marketing capability is still there. We are moving from JWT to having our marketing vehicle in America be Forevermark. The publicity people, the trade people from JWT, are all still there. Over the last two years they haven’t been promoting the industry as a whole. They have been using more proprietary-type marketing tools. This is an evolution of that. The publicity team will still be there at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards. Now all those activities will be under the umbrella of Forevermark. 

We want to remain at the forefront of diamond marketing in America. The difference is now we want to work together with partners in a more selective way. I think of the Forevermark as being the De Beers marketing vehicle for the future. We need to maintain the image of the diamond dream and get consumers excited about diamonds in new and exciting ways. Rather than doing it generically, we now have this different model of partnership. That is what makes the Fovevermark different as an idea. What we are selling is a concept of partnership between us, the retailers, and the diamantaire. We want to build a powerful marketing collective to excite people about diamonds and reassure people about the origin of their diamonds. We don’t have a product to sell, we have ideas to sell. It is quite a unique model of marketing. It is a marketing focused club to help us build demand.

Will it be marketed differently in the U.S than elsewhere?

The basic elements of the program are the ones we wish to maintain. It will have the same vision around assurance and the same pipeline guarantees in America, the idea that their product is a force for good. It will be largely SI-plus goods from 14 points and up. It will make use of the inscription technology and the criteria we have developed. 

Will the Forevermark just be marketed as brand, or will other elements come into play?

It will be done in conjunction with the big ideas that De Beers has always been effective in creating. To me, the core of branding is the ability to create an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. It’s the combination of the rational and emotional that makes a powerful marketing package.

Do you want to launch the Forevermark this year?

We want to. But we are not going to rush in. We are still planning. It’s a little early to be specific.

Who will it be sold to?

We have a pretty open mind, though it is limited to SI and better goods, so that should give you some idea. It is still too early to say what the distribution program will be. That is really the job of Charles [Stanley] and his team in Connecticut.

Are people worried that the Forevermark will create different "tiers" of diamonds?

We hear that a lot when we come into a market, and then after three months we never hear it again. There is a concern that because you are making a positive integrity claim about these diamonds, it will impact the others. But it doesn’t seem to. People have Forevermark goods, they have non-Forevermark goods, and they all coexist quite nicely and it doesn’t seem to be an issue at all in the stores.

How is the Forevermark doing in other markets?

In 2010, we increased the number of doors in the core markets of Hong Kong, China, and Japan 40 percent. We are now selling over $100 million of Forevermark diamonds a year.

Finally, what is happening to the slogan “A Diamond is Forever”?

De Beers Diamond Jewelers will now be using that.

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