Branding remains a hot topic in the diamond world, especially with the flurry of news reports that the Forevermark brand will be introduced in the United States in the not too distant future.
Also recently, there was another interesting news report from the Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council, based on a survey done for one of the diamond grading laboratories. The conclusion of this market research report was that the consumer has no particular preference when it comes to diamond grading reports. Rather, the consumer relies on the jeweler from whom the dia-mond is purchased to select a lab to provide the report.
Connecting the dots between these two data points, I’d like to offer a perspective to current and would-be marketers of diamond products in North America. The name that is most important in this part of the world is the name and brand of the local jeweler selling the diamond.
Time and time again it has been proven that the most important name is the local one that has established trust, a level of appropriate knowledge, and a reputation for honesty and fair dealing that mainly comes through word-of-mouth advertising and referrals.
My own experience in the diamond business goes back to the mid-’70s and the late ’80s when the ArtCarved and Keepsake brands first tried to establish a brand connection with the consumer and later use that brand recognition to create consumer preference. Because of our belief in the power of branding, we failed to recognize fully the importance of the local brand—the local retail jeweler. As a consequence, our consumer branding efforts failed. That is not to say, however, that our efforts to create a trade brand failed, at least with the ArtCarved brand. To this day, ArtCarved is recognized within the trade as a premier brand of wedding rings and diamond engagement rings. It is likely that the inside front cover of this issue of JCK carries an ArtCarved advertisement.
Some time ago I theorized in this column that, of all the attempts to brand diamonds in the North American markets, only a few would succeed at the consumer level. Today I believe the two that have succeeded are Hearts On Fire and the Leo. And in my view both have man-aged the shoals and narrows of the branding proposition be-cause both have en-gaged the retail community very effectively. One the one hand, Hearts On Fire focused its considerable efforts on the better independent retail jewelers in addition to the consumer. The Leo has focused its efforts on a national chain strategy with Sterling.
When the Forevermark brand eventually does come to these shores, learning to understand the importance of the local retailer will serve it well. The news of the demise of the local retail jeweler, in my view, has been largely misunderstood. The loss of 500 or 600 retail jewelers at the bottom end of the dollar sales volume level is not indicative of the ability of those retail jewelers at the other end of the spectrum to effectively market their brand locally. It is in this context that the recent JCOC study about diamond grading laboratories and the consumer is significant.