DTC pushes `Supplier of Choice’

Officials of the Diamond Trading Company (formerly De Beers) came out in force in Basel this week to promote the company’s “Supplier of Choice” initiative.

“We’ve said to sightholders, `You need to be better at marketing,’ ” said one official. “We now have more than 100 initiatives taking place.”

A somewhat befuddled diamond industry, accustomed to decades-old insular practices, greeted the initiative less than enthusiastically last year. But, as the DTC’s Stephen Lussier told JCK, when faced with the idea of not receiving the rough allocated by the DTC each year, sightholders began attempting to meet the diamond giant’s wishes.

The DTC event in Basel-held to woo both the press and international sightholders and jewelry manufacturers-displayed some of those initiatives, such as a partnership with fashion house Escada to create a diamond jewelry line.

Lussier said that the “Supplier of Choice” plan’s slow start was expected. “It’s not going to change the world in one year; it’s a long-term process,” he said. “Many of these companies are generations-old family businesses.” The overall goal, he said-in what has become something of a mantra-is for the diamond and jewelry industries to shift from competing on price to competing on marketing initiatives. This change in focus is imperative to being a viable force in the largely marketing-driven luxury market.

“We must compete not on price, but by generating new ideas that excite consumers about diamonds,” Lussier said. “That improves margins, grows the industry, and lets us compete with the best of the luxury world.”