The Industry Ponders the Millennial Enigma

Several events at JCK Las Vegas explored millennial marketing

Marketing to the huge but often confounding millennial generation was a main topic at this year’s JCK show.

The Diamond Producers Association, the recently formed group that is handling category marketing for the diamond industry, made a splash at a Friday breakfast presentation with its new, made-for-millennials slogan: “Real is rare. Real is a diamond.”

DPA consultant David Lamb said the slogan, developed by ad agency Mother New York, came about after extensive research on producers’ target consumer.

“[Younger consumers] have a double-edged attitude toward diamonds. It is as if this group is looking at diamonds as clouded with formality,” he said. “All the trappings, all the formal rituals that go with marriage are less relevant than they used to be.”

The new slogan is meant to take what Lamb called “essential truths” about diamonds and translate them into messages that will appeal to the target consumer. “We want them to stop thinking of diamonds as a formal rite of passage and to think of a diamond as the perfect symbol of a real connection,” he said.

Other ways the jewelry industry can reach out to younger consumers was the subject of seminar on Thursday with Juliet Hutton-Squire and Maia Adams, cofounders of Adorn Insight. Among their tips:

Be authentic: “#nofilter is one of the most popular hashtags on Instagram,” said Adams. “Portraying yourself as the real deal has become a big deal.”

Use emojis, which “really resonate with millennials,” said Adams. “Millennials tend to communicate in pictorial language, so why not talk about your brand in pictorial form?”

Keep things personalized: The duo pointed to services that allow marketers to make customized videos. “Imagine if you could do a personalized birthday video that pulls in previous purchases and recommendations of possible future purchases,” said Adams.

Get consumers involved: For instance, British e-tailer Rare Pink has had success in crowdfunding, which helps the brand see which products resonate with its clients.

Consider rentals: Millennials are big on the so-called sharing economy, which stresses renting rather than ownership, and is epitomized by businesses like Airbnb and Uber. In the jewelry industry, companies such as Rocksbox have had success with a monthly subscription service. They afford “the wearer a look for a specific event without giving the wearer a lifetime commitment,” said Adams.

Stress sustainability and social benefit. “This is the most socially conscious generation of all time and they are prepared to pay a premium for a sustainable product,” said Hutton-Squire. “Social, economic, and environmental responsibility is integral to any brand wanting to have a future.” That is an ethic many jewelry brands have followed. For instance, Pandora has become a big supporter of the charity Dress for Success. Says Scott Burger, president of the Americas for Pandora: “It is really something we feel will connect with millennials but also an important way that we can give back to the community.”

Yet with all the focus on the differences in the new generation, marketers should remember that some things will likely remain constant, says Forevermark CEO Stephen Lussier.

“I remember the same discussion that [De Beers’ former ad agency] N.W. Ayer had…around the late 1960s and 1970s, saying, ‘Oh God, here is a generation that is completely different, they don’t want material objects. They just want love, peace, and to protest,’?” he recalls. “And yet, engagement rings were as solid as ever. Because even within that world, you want some things that give you a little bit of foundation and permanence.”


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