This is the end of our interview with Jean-Marc Lieberherr, DPA CEO. Long-term goals, slowly evolution and big challenges of our industry, diamonds magic… The DPA is investing for the future !
To read the first part of our interview, please click here : “We see this marketing platform as an industry program” – Jean-Marc Lieberherr, DPA CEO
● How can you find your place after De Beers’ mythical slogan, which moreover still prevails with Forevermark… ?
The line “A diamond is forever” is an extraordinarily successful line that is a proprietary asset of De Beers, used exclusively by them on their branded initiatives. Re-investing behind ADIF in a category marketing context was never an option for the DPA. Moreover, the DPA has identified the need to develop a new category marketing platform on which to establish a new, fresh dialogue with diamond consumers, and in particular with millennial consumers.
Today, the diamond category needs more big, stimulating ideas. It is the ambition of the DPA to build a new industry-wide platform around this new big idea, this new fundamental truth about diamonds that will have relevance well into the next decade and will be additive to ADIF in the mind of the trade and consumer.
● Why limit yourselves to the American market? Are you planning to adapt this campaign, this slogan, to other markets? Or to other regions of the world?
The US is the largest market with 40%~45% of global diamond jewellery consumption. We are therefore now focusing on building strong foundations of the RisR platform in the US. As time goes, we will evaluate the potential of our new platform in other countries and regions, such as India and China, but first things first.
● How do you think you’ll be able to measure the success of this campaign over the coming years?
We are investing for the long term and we accept that it will take some time. This is the beginning of a journey and we have what we need to make a successful start. In the long run, we will assess the success of our platform by the extent to which we will have created an emotional bond between younger generations and the idea of a diamond, in a way that A Diamond is Forever created a long lasting relationship with consumers over the past decades. But it will not be enough, we will need to work hand in hand with the diamond and jewellery trade to transform the diamond experience, all the way down to the shop floor, to align the reality of the product experience to the emotional promise contained in “Real is Rare”. This collective work is going to be the real game changer. It is an exciting perspective.
● What are the long-term goals of the DPA? Where do you see the DPA in 10 years?
This is too early to say. The long-term goal of the DPA is to strengthen the fundamentals of the diamond industry, from mine to market. We start from the consumer, and we start with the emotional appeal. As we progress on our journey, I expect the DPA to work closely with other industry organisation to tackle other challenges and opportunities. We have a unique product and a unique industry. If we can harness the energies, resources and talent of the sector, the opportunities are immense. I see the DPA playing a key role in realising these opportunities.
● How is your own experience as an individual in the diamond industry and with Rio Tinto helping you today? Has the “Diamonds with a Story” marketing experience helped or inspired you in any way?
I joined the diamond industry in 2005 with rio Tinto and have been involved in all aspects of the business, from mine to market. I am passionate about diamond mining operations. I have seen the positive impact our activities have on local populations. I have been involved in setting up partnerships with indigenous groups in Australia, India or Canada and have seen the positive impact we are having on education, jobs, infrastructures. It is a very rewarding part of being involved in diamond production. Obviously, I have come from the marketing side of the business and I understand the diamond supply chain well from rough to jewellery, which is essential to working effectively with industry partners. I started the Rio Tinto platform “Diamonds with a Story” and also played a key role in developing the “Argyle Pink Diamond” franchise. What this has taught me is that diamonds are not a commodity like any other. They have magic and if we treat them like commodities, we’ll miss the trick. But if we can reveal their magic, then the sky is the limit.
● In our industry today, what strikes you, what is important for you and what surprises you? Which developments — be they large or small — seem meaningful to you for the future? Or who are the people whose work or messages inspire you?
At a macro level, our industry is evolving slowly in a rapidly changing world and needs to develop a compelling vision for the sector. Consumers are changing, new technologies emerge, expectations from governments and civil society are evolving. We need to adapt quickly but we are still a fragmented industry, which makes change slow and difficult. Of course, there will always be competition and rivalry, but there are moments when unity and common purpose must prevail, with focus on what is in everyone’s interest. I believe now is one of these moments and it is for the leaders of the industry – including the DPA – to work together and shape the future of the sector.
I am inspired by the founding fathers of the European Union who understood that joint action born common interest is the only way to achieve significant progress. I hope we can apply their lessons to the diamond sector and find a way forward together.