In December, JCK first reported that De Beers’ U.S. advertising account, a trade institution for decades, was shutting down, along with its Diamond Promotion Service and Diamond Information Center divisions. Instead, De Beers is putting its entire U.S. marketing budget behind the Forevermark, a line of inscribed diamonds that it has introduced throughout the world. To that end, Forevermark USA recently set up an office in Stamford, Conn., under the direction of De Beers veteran Charles Stanley. In an exclusive interview, Stephen Lussier, the CEO of Forevermark and De Beers’ executive director, explained what this change will mean for U.S. retailers.
JCK: How should people view the changes in De Beers’ U.S. advertising?
Stephen Lussier: We want to remain at the forefront of diamond marketing in America. The difference is now we want to work together with partners in a more selective way.
I think of the Forevermark as being the De Beers marketing vehicle for the future. We need to maintain the image of the diamond dream and get consumers excited about diamonds in new and exciting ways. Rather than doing it generically, we now have this different model of partnership. We are selling a concept of partnership between us, the retailers, and the diamantaire. We want to build a powerful marketing collective to excite people about diamonds and reassure people about their origin. We don’t have a product to sell, we have ideas to sell.
JCK: Will the Forevermark be marketed as a brand, or will other elements come into play?
SL: It will be done in conjunction with the big ideas that De Beers has always been effective in creating. The core of branding is the ability to create an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. It’s the combination of the rational and emotional that makes a powerful marketing package.
JCK: Will the Forevermark program be different in the United States than elsewhere?
SL: It will have the same vision around assurance and the same pipeline guarantees in America. [Forevermark] diamonds will be largely SI-plus goods from 14 points and up. It will make use of the inscription technology and the criteria we have developed.
JCK: Who will it be sold to?
SL: It is still too early to say what the distribution program will be. That is really the job of Charles and his team in Connecticut.
JCK: Are people worried that the Forevermark will create different “tiers” of diamonds?
SL: We hear that a lot when we come into a market, and then after three months we never hear it again. There is a concern that because you are making a positive integrity claim about these diamonds, it will impact the others. But it doesn’t seem to. People have Forevermark goods, they have non-Forevermark goods, and they all coexist quite nicely.