Do the Experience Thing

Edahn Golan

The times they are a-changin’,” Bob Dylan sang in 1964, and nearly 50 years later, that has not changed. There’s no doubt that the times are taking us in a new direction socially and culturally. We look around us and may say, “The times are not as they used to be,” and lament about how our parents were able to buy a house or a car more easily with their salaries than we can with ours, even if, comparatively, we earn the same. But, it’s not just the economy; it’s also how money is used. And that has an important impact on diamond jewelry purchases.

One change that took place sometime ago – and is still with us – is the shift from buying products to buying experiences. If you have a little sum of money saved, rather than buying a new TV, you may take a cooking course; instead of replacing the living room furniture you could instead fly to an exotic location for a couple of weeks, learn to scuba dive, enjoying the underwater wonders.

The experiences we have are long lasting in a unique way. A nice car lasts a few years, but its novelty wears out long before that and your well-spent money gives you less joy in the long run. A safari in Tanzania with your son on the other hand, is something no one else has and the great memories last a lifetime.

An op-ed that appeared in a newspaper this week encouraged readers to choose experiences over objects. The desire to own is inescapable, so let’s buy something that gives us more happiness for a longer time.

Though lasting happiness is not really buyable, experiences are, and as society drifts more towards that, interest in buying “stuff” diminishes. And diamonds? Diamonds are lucky. For years, De Beers promoted them as forever and for love. However, luck may run out.

Retailers need to market diamonds on their own far more then was needed in the past. Without the “Diamond Is Forever campaign,” most retailers are without a meaningful driver that actively encourages consumers to walk into their store.

Worse, now that the holiday season is behind us, it is clear that those retailers that focused their marketing on price, discounts and “value” (dollar value, not emotional value), did not do as well as those that marketed experiences such as love and relationships.

Retailers can offer buyers an experience – a candlelight dinner bundled with a diamond purchase, suggestions for a romantic picnic accompanied by a gift bottle of wine or an engraved bottle opener. The overall marketing message needs to work in sync with consumers’ desires, so talk emotions, feelings and memories – not a percent discount.

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. This year, remember that your clients want their own unique experiences and bring that to the forefront. Otherwise, He may choose to take Her on a romantic week in Provence, instead of buying a diamond ring to celebrate their anniversary.