At the conclusion of last week’s 2018 GIA Symposium, I looked at my laptop and realized I’d taken 23 pages of single-spaced notes starting the moment the three-day event kicked off on Oct. 7. That’s another way of saying: I’ve got A LOT of information to wade through before I distill the key takeaways.
There were a number of recurrent themes: the importance of customer centricity; the ongoing effort to track gemstone origin and the role traceability and transparency play in retail storytelling; the death of “channels” as sellers learn that rather than continue to wage the brick-and-mortar vs. e-commerce battle, they must embrace omnichannel retailing; and, of course, the future of lab-grown diamonds. I’ll tackle these in subsequent posts.
For now, however, I wanted to share with you the prescient remarks that Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business and founder of Gartner L2, made to the audience at the start of the closing session, dubbed “Futurescape.”
Galloway began his video address from New York City by reviewing the predictions he offered the last time GIA staged an international symposium, in 2011. Having forecast that Facebook would become the world’s most valuable company, he corrected himself: “Apple passed a trillion dollars in value in August. It’s transformed itself from a technology company into the world’s most powerful luxury brand. Imagine a company that will do double the profits this quarter that Amazon has done in its entire history as a company, and you are imagining Apple. Apple is the equivalent of an auto company, but a very unique auto company: An auto company that has the production volumes of Toyota with the margins of Ferrari. We have never seen anything like it.”
In 2011, Galloway also predicted that brick-and-mortar would not go away, and he was right on that front. “What we’ve seen is a rush toward the middle,” he said. “Successful online retailers—including Warby Parker, Bonobos—have continued to open stores while traditional brick-and-mortar retailers like Macy’s and J.Crew have been forced to bolster their online presence in order to survive. The retailers that are thriving have embraced the multichannel model, recognizing that consumers don’t live in isolation of any one medium. Pretty soon it’ll be consumer retail, not e-commerce, not direct-to-consumer, but offering the consumer any way to get the product, depending on what’s most convenient for him or her.”
For 2019 and beyond, Galloway declared:
Lab-grown diamonds have the same potential to rock the industry as quartz watch materials in the 1970s.