In 2002 James Twitchell wrote an article about understanding the material culture at the beginning of the 21st century and how it was based on needing the unnecessary. Luxury was said to be as rich in meaning as it was lacking in utility and caused as much happiness as it did distress. What surprised me was to learn the bulk of luxury items were then consumed by middle class America, not just the wealthy as I had once assumed.
Twenty-first century luxury consumers are distant relatives of the survivors of the great depression. Their consumption habits have had no resemblance of the generation that suffered through those dire economic times. But today’s economic challenges are instilling a shared knowledge that is proving to be a basis for a culture that is learning the cautions exhibited by their predecessors.
This economy has certainly been a source of change in social currency. Today’s recession era populous is learning to exist independent of some their former must haves. Consumers are learning to live with some things and without many other things. These consumers don’t want to stand out while so many others are suffering through some very difficult times. There is a shift in currency to value well being where self-discipline, self-help, self-respect, self-reliance, self-interest, self-control, and self determination are now more valued than they have been in decades.
Many jewelry consumers have employers who are demanding them to produce more now than ever before and at the same time many of these consumers think they should be reducing their overall consumption of goods. Jewelry marketers need to help consumers integrate their paradoxical desire for luxury and their social aspirations. Effectively demonstrating the social rewards of securing fabulous jewelry values is today’s jewelry marketer’s branding mantra.
Jewelry marketing messages must contradict all those current notions of sacrificing being the social construction of our current times. Consumers have an appreciation for jewelry and they need jewelry marketers, merchandisers and sales associates to sell the necessary consumption of jewelry. Create the right value proposition that convinces even the most doubtful shopper that a new jewelry purchase can be both unnecessary and too desirable to pass up.