Diamond Jewelry: Fanning Desire, Fueling Sales

De Beers will press harder this year on the pressure points that can turn consumer desire into sales. That’s the goal of a $42 million consumer advertising campaign developed by its U.S. agency, N.W. Ayer & Partners, New York, N.Y.

“Diamond jewelry sales are stronger than ever, and we believe the industry can build on this strength in 1995,” says Derek Palmer, U.S. regional director for De Beers. “The challenge is to further increase the impact of advertising by turbo-charging the emotions associated with giving and receiving diamond jewelry.”

The campaign – Ayer’s largest for De Beers – has two primary tasks:

  • To build desire by focusing on diamonds as symbols of love (the emotional aspect) and as products with a certain mystique and intrinsic value (unemotional aspects).

  • To translate that desire into more sales by making sure diamond jewelry is accessible, relevant and appropriate to a woman’s lifestyle.

Specifically, the campaign recognizes and addresses pressure points that occur at different times during the purchase process. This differs from previous campaigns that didn’t account for differences between men and women in the buying process. “While it is the woman who generally motivates the acquisition, the couple’s interaction justifies the gift,” says Jim Haag, senior vice president and senior partner with N.W. Ayer. “Eventually, the man’s role is to make the actual purchase.”

Each factor gets attention in the three-part campaign:

  • The “Desire” segment is designed to persuade women to begin or maintain their “campaign” for diamond jewelry gifts with greater urgency.

  • The “Shadows” segment – updated from the 1993-’94 campaign of the same name – reminds couples of relevant purchasing occasions and the emotions that accompany them.

  • The “Man’s Guide to Buying Diamonds” segment – an unusually word-intensive print campaign – teaches men about diamonds so they’re more willing to spend more for them.

The campaign was detailed in Toronto in April during a press gathering sponsored by Ayer’s Diamond Information Center.

Desire: Relevance and urgency are the pressure points of the “Desire” campaign, targeted for consumer magazines. The four ads in this segment focus on the intimacy between a woman and her diamond jewelry, showing extreme close-ups of jewelry and describing how it feels. For example, one shows a bracelet and contains the words: “It’ll feel cool, even in August. Weighty, in a reassuring way. It’ll slide down your arm and come to a soft stop against your wristbone. Fire against pulse. It’ll make you use your hands when you talk.”

The other three ads in this series showcase a diamond stud, ring and necklace. All ask the question “Why wait? Diamonds. For you, for now, forever.” They all end with an invitation to call a toll-free telephone number for a portfolio of 50 new diamond jewelry designs.

The ads tested well in focus groups, say Palmer and Haag, because they show diamonds as exclusive but not unattainable and because the copy allows a woman to identify with the campaign on a personal level.

Shadows II: The new edition of the Shadows campaign strokes the pressure points of emotions associated with giving and receiving. It’s directed at men and women and is designed to motivate them to buy diamond jewelry for an occasion.

The former Shadows TV campaign spotlighted four-color diamond jewelry on shadowed people in sophisticated settings with memorable music in the background and words flashed on the screen. The Shadows theme allowed anonymity so any viewer could relate to the commercials, say Palmer and Haag.

Shadows II retains the anonymity but mixes shadows and live action, adds voice-overs and tones down the music at the beginning, allowing a crescendo toward the end. “This approach results in a turbo-charge of emotion, thus increasing the impact,” says Palmer.

The new series has four TV commercials: three for specific product categories (diamond engagement ring, 25th anniversary diamond necklace and diamond anniversary band) and an image commercial focusing on the mystique of diamonds.

Shadows has been so successful that Ayer decided to boost its spending on TV advertising from 50% of the total media package last year to about 70% this year – all of it for Shadows II.

How to buy: The “Man’s Guide to Buying Diamonds” campaign touches the pressure point of uncertainty, seeking to ease uncertainty about diamonds through knowledge. In a departure from the “image” campaigns normally developed for De Beers, this one features print ads with almost a full page of copy.

The ads grew out of focus studies in which men said they felt adrift when entering a jewelry store for diamonds. While copy-intensive, the ads are chatty in style. For example, one begins with the question “Are you one of the 2 million victims of engagement ring anxiety?” and then follows up with “Relax. Guys simply are not supposed to know this stuff. Dads rarely say ‘Son, let’s talk diamonds.'”

The ads go on to discuss how diamonds are formed, mined, polished and graded. They explain the Four C’s and the two months’ salary guideline (“Spend less and the relatives will talk. Spend more, and they’ll rave”). They also suggest that men watch women look at diamond jewelry in stores to see what they like, but advise against involving them in the actual purchase (the unspoken reason being that studies show men are willing to spend more than women when it comes time to buy). In addition, the ads offer a toll-free telephone number to receive a booklet titled How to Buy Diamonds You’ll Be Proud to Give from the American Gem Society.

With the nuts and bolts out of the way, the ads close with a nod to romance: “And don’t compromise. This is one of life’s most important occasions. You want a diamond as unique as your love.”

For the first time, the ads are signed by the Diamond Information Center and “De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd., Est. 1888.” Says Haag, “Men in the focus group saw that and thought, ‘They’ve been around for that long? This must be a really experienced company.’ They found it almost like a public service ad. The Diamond Information Center signoff also increases the credibility that we’re trying to give information.”

Wide reach: The ads are expected to reach 94% of all adults in the U.S. an average of 35 times throughout the year, says Ayer. The print ads will appear in more than 50 magazines, including Allure, BusinessWeek, Elle, Forbes, Fortune, Harper’s Bazaar, People, New Yorker, Sports Illustrated and Vogue. The TV commercials will air on ABC, CBS, NBC and numerous cable stations during prime time and evening hours, major sporting events and late local news. Among the popular shows targeted for diamond advertising are “Dave’s World,” “ER,” “Frasier,” “Friends,” “Hearts Afire,” “Mad About You” and “Seinfeld.”

De Beers and Ayer hope the campaign will help to push annual diamond sales toward their $18.1 billion target by 1998 (they grew 7% to $12.9 billion in 1994). To achieve that goal, De Beers’ marketing campaigns are designed to increase acquisition rates (which have slowed since the 1970s-’80s) and the average price paid per piece. Both will have to grow in order to reach the target, notes Palmer.

The Diamond Information Center notes that diamond jewelry sales benefited last year from $23 million worth of free publicity. (The amount represents how much De Beers would have had to pay for equivalent advertising.) This free publicity included a wide range of venues, including articles in consumer magazines such as Vogue and Mirabella, apparel designers using diamond jewelry in their shows and celebrities giving and wearing diamond jewelry in public. Ayer plays a role in suggesting and/or arranging many of these and other exposures. “This publicity speaks volumes for diamonds that we could never achieve through advertising,” says Palmer.

Educational material: Along with its largest U.S. advertising program, De Beers and Ayer also announced their largest education and training program. The five-part program consists of the following:

  • “Your Stairway to Success,” a video self-study course recommended for sales associates with some selling experience or as a refresher for veterans. The course takes about 15 hours to complete and can be used in the store or at home. One kit includes a video, a workbook for each of five study sessions and progress forms. It costs $150 ($125 each if you order two to 10 kits, $100 each for 11 or more kits).

  • “Diamond Dreams,” a one-day seminar designed to teach owners and managers how to train sales associates beyond basic selling skills and product knowledge. The core of the seminar is a 33-minute video that includes seven “real-life” selling situations. The cost is $195 for the first person from a company, $50 for each additional person from that company.

  • “Christmas Seminar,” new three-hour motivational seminars that teach sales associates, managers and owners how to build excitement around the mystique and romance associated with diamonds. The seminars will be offered in the fall.

  • “Rites of Passage,” a dual video program that offers techniques for selling diamond jewelry in the Rites of Passage program, including engagement ring, anniversary band and 25th anniversary necklace.

  • “Piece of Forever,” a video featuring a montage of De Beers TV commercials. The video is available in two versions. One is designed to pique consumers’ emotions regarding diamond jewelry, the other to motivate sales associates to sell diamond jewelry.

Diamond Information Center, N.W. Ayer Inc., Worldwide Plaza, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10019-7498; (212) 474-6190, fax (212) 474-5402.