A seemingly innocent tweet provides insight into our industry’s current challenges
Last week, The Economist wrote a good article on the state of the diamond business, and then tweeted, “Why aren’t millennials buying diamonds?” The responses were, um, lively enough that they spawned several articles and then several more. (And now, this one.)
Most of the responses were along these lines:
.@TheEconomist we all work at Verizon and Lids at the mall.
— Robo-Robb (@roborobb) July 1, 2016
@TheEconomist Because they are living in their parents basement?
— W G Strong (@wgstrong) July 1, 2016
someone who is good at the economy please help me. my family is dying @TheEconomist
— ???? (@Bonjohh) July 1, 2016
— Danielle Allen (@byDanielleAllen) July 3, 2016
Some (of course) were snarky:
— Mededitor (@Mededitor) July 4, 2016
@TheEconomist I went with the yacht.
— (??_?) kyle (@kset03) July 1, 2016
Why aren’t millennials yachting?
Why aren’t millennials employing scullery maids? https://t.co/2JlTlrB3PD
— Alan (@alan_maguire) July 1, 2016
@TheEconomist Because they aren’t handed out like participation trophies. They actually require work to acquire them.
— M George Stevens (@mgeorgestevens) July 1, 2016
@TheEconomist We’re buying eDiamonds instead.
— Brock Evan (@SilentiousBeing) July 1, 2016
why aren’t millennials buying diamonds u ask? why aren’t baby boomers giving me $$$ for diamonds i wonder
— LEEDS TORI (@andnocage) July 1, 2016
— Dimples ?(? ? ?*)? (@BAROZNEMO) July 1, 2016
And some were sadly industry-specific:
@TheEconomist because we know all about blood diamonds and the Debeers monopoly of the world diamond supply.
— John (@johnwjohnsoniii) July 1, 2016
@TheEconomist The other question: What took so long? Why did previous generations prize them so highly? R they THAT much more beautiful?
— (((Henry Tenenbaum)) (@henryten) July 1, 2016
So why did this seemingly innocent tweet strike a chord? “It obviously tapped into the popular frame of luxury or financial elite not getting it,” writes Patrick Slavenburg of Farlang (on social media, naturally).
These messages can be sobering for the industry, but they serve as something of an impromptu focus group of how young people view our business and provide some insight on its current challenges.
Pam Danziger of Unity Marketing said last year luxury was facing a fallow time for a simple reason: Demographics. Some believe the great booms of the ’80s and ’90s were at least partially sparked by baby boomers reaching their peak spending power (and doing it all on credit—but that’s another story). Now, however, we are caught in a demographic vice: Boomers are retiring/dying, Gen X-ers have money but no numbers, while millennials have numbers but no money (and are fickle, regardless).
When you add in e-commerce, heavy debt, income inequality, the aftereffects of the fiscal crisis, and an unstable world, it’s not surprising this industry—and the rest of retail—is feeling challenged.
Things may perk up in a few years as millennials mature. In fact, given the millennial generation is even bigger than the baby boomers, we may see a nice upturn. But that’s not where we are now, and it’s important to recognize that.
Of course, there is another issue: Are (some) millennials not buying diamonds because of their financial straits or do they have less interest in the product in general? Looking at the responses to this tweet, the answer seems to be a mixture of both.