“All value in the diamond business emanates from the consumer desire for our product. Without that consumer desire, there would be no investment in exploration, there would be no investment in new mines, no one would build any stores, and none of us would have anything to do because there would be no one willing to pay for it.” – Stephen Lussier, CEO of De Beers Forevermark, at the annual Rapaport Breakfast in Las Vegas, May 31, 2015.
One might differentiate between consumer desire and confidence but there is no doubt that they are the deepest concerns in the diamond industry today. While the diamond dream still needs to be sold to millennials, that new generation of consumers is demanding assurances about the diamond product.
These two themes were the focus of various Rapaport conferences that took place during the JCK Las Vegas show.
The desire for diamonds is largely dependent upon confidence in the product. While Lussier’s game plan to keep the diamond dream alive focused on fueling desire for diamonds, the discussions that followed later in the day were especially motivated by a need to drive confidence.
Martin Rapaport’s annual “State of the Diamond Industry” address, and the respective Rapaport Diamond Grading and Responsible Sourcing Conferences, focused on similar themes to Lussier’s presentation: What’s being done to ensure consumer confidence in the diamond product?
Lussier urged the industry not to take the “diamond dream” for granted. If that dream encompasses the product being a universal symbol of love, an elegant symbol of success, that it is timeless and has enduring value, he stressed that the new generation of millennial consumers need to be taught that dream.
Lussier outlined four areas for the industry to instill that dream in the psyche of millennials, as it has been with previous generations. The industry needs to:
“Lussier urged the industry not to take the “diamond dream” for granted.”
1. Defend the core symbolism of diamonds,
2. Engage in the debate between timeless and disposable fashion,
3. Win in the digital space, and
4. Fight for the integrity of the industry.
To achieve all that, Lussier stressed that there needs to be greater investment in diamond brands – ultimately, “brands don’t sell products, they sell dreams.” He insisted that the industry needs to dramatically improve the quality of retail and marketing content, the midstream should work with its retail clients to create better margins and participate in telling the diamond story, and have diamond producers tell that story as well.
Martin Rapaport, chairman of the Rapaport Group, endorsed Lussier’s philosophy to sell the idea behind the product, rather than the product itself, and he called on the mining companies to invest about 5 percent of their revenue in such marketing activities. After all, the millennials have certainly not grown up with the type of generic diamond marketing campaigns that created the diamond dream in the first place.