The DTC’s Forevermark-eting

The DTC/De Beers has answered the question I posed last week, in response to a comment by De Beers’ CFO Stuart Brown that the company will spend more of its advertising budget towards “proprietary diamonds” and less on the “generic market.” Here’s the word from Louise Prior, the DTC’s head of downstream communications:

As you know, our sales and marketing strategy, Supplier of Choice (SoC) remains the same, that is, driving consumer demand for diamond jewellery, nothing’s changing here. What is changing, however, (and I believe that’s what Stuart was referring to) is the means by which we can do this most effectively, and a part of that could be with the Forevermark where we have already seen tremendous success in Hong Kong. We’ve recently launched the Forevermark in India, Japan and China, we plan to open in the Gulf in 2008 where we hope to see similar levels of success.

And now putting on my blogger/opinion-giver hat, some have asked why, in the same post, I said De Beers has “way too much faith in” the Forevermark. Well, I could be wrong on this, and it’s notable that the Mark is doing well in Hong Kong. However:

For brands to do well, they need a “unique selling proposition.” There isn’t anything particularly unique about what the Forevermark stands for, since any reputable jeweler should be able to offer its assurances (that the diamond is natural, untreated, conflict-free and “the best.”) In fact, any company or group should also be able to offer them — which is why there is already copycat “marks.”

Second, the Forevermark is really an “inside brand.” But it’s hard enough to start a real brand in this industry — why would an “inside brand” work? Its supporters claim the Forevermark is similar to the Woolmark or “Intel Inside” — but really, no consumer I know cares at all about the Woolmark or “Intel Inside.” The concept is also basically the same (with, it seems, the same technology) as the De Beers-branded stones the company offered in 2000 for the Millennium — and those didn’t exactly set the world on fire.

Finally, I am not suggesting that the Forevermark is a bad idea. Obviously, consumer confidence is an important thing. But the Forevermark seems aimed at consumers who are already in the market. Its message is: “If you want certain assurances, choose these stones.” So if the DTC’s goal really is ”driving consumer demand for diamond jewelry,” isn’t it better to spend your money on creating a new product category, like “Journey”? Just asking.

JCK News Director