Nashville, TN—Forget the negativity. Recent research conducted by the Diamond Producers Association found that Millennials are more likely to buy diamonds and diamond jewelry than any other age group!
In a special session Tuesday at the American Gem Society Conclave, Sarah Gorvitz, DPA head of communications and insights, and trade liaison Grant Mobley presented the findings of DPA’s latest research from more than 1,000 consumers. The findings are just a small slice of the research DPA has done, said Gorvitz.
“If you know how to sell to Gen-X and Baby Boomers, you probably know a lot of what you need to know about selling to Millennials,” she reassured the audience.
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DPA did a deep dive into women buying diamonds for themselves. Seven in 10 jewelers DPA spoke to reported an increase in diamond self-purchase over the past two years. DPA talked to hundreds of people working in national and regional chains and independent jewelers; both the jewelers and the DPA feel there’s tremendous opportunity in this market, especially women over age 35.
“It’s a huge and growing category. Women love to turn any focus group into a discussion about diamonds they bought for themselves,” said Gorvitz.
DPA asks participants in the focus groups to “sell diamonds” to each other, to see what attributes they discuss. Gorvitz said it’s amazing how consistent their responses are.
“It doesn’t matter where you are or what age group you’re speaking to, they all seem to have the same idea,” she said. They talk about how diamonds are billions years old, that they're unique, that they're from the earth, and consumers have a perception that diamonds increase in value over time.
Women in the focus groups typically will also dip into the romantic and meaningful attributes of diamonds and why they are suited to mark once in a lifetime moments (both romantic and not), and for those moments, women want the real thing, he said. In addition to its romantic connotations, it’s an asset to pass along from generation to generation, it has long-term value, and the other person also has meaning getting it, he said.
Meanwhile, Google shows a skewed view of how Millennials view diamonds, with lots of doom and gloom articles, said Gorvitz. That’s misleading.
“Millennials over-index for diamond purchases. They account for 27% of the U.S. population, but 41% of diamond purchases.” They spent $16 billion on diamond jewelry last year, 50% of which was bridal jewelry. But of the other 50% of diamonds bought by Millennials, a full third was bought as a self-purchase, said Gorvitz.
“Correcting that record in the media and talking to journalists about all the positive contributions the diamond industry makes is narrow slice of DPA’s work.”
Mobley added that 60% of Millennials are often or always loyal to brands they purchase, and their sheer numbers alone—more than 80 million in the United States—makes them essential to court.
But they don’t respond to traditional diamond advertising. Like everything else, they want to “see behind the curtain,” so to speak. They are obsessed with knowing where their products come from.
“It’s not super surprising but important to keep in mind.”
Perhaps one of the reasons why the media is so negative on Millennials’ attitudes toward diamonds is that their lives have had a lot of negative influences, Gorvitz explained.
“We hear regularly from Millennials about what it’s like growing up during the Great Recession and its impact on their daily lives. They’re facing a crowded job market, debt, student loans. They’ve also seen institutions rise and fall in fraction of the amount of time it used to take. Remember AOL, Napster, and so many things that have come and gone. Their lives are in constant flux.”
She also said DPA researchers hear all the time technology impacts how Millennials relate to each other, learn, and socialize. “Millennials know they’re obsessed with technology, but they also know how to make fun of it.”
Their relationship to diamonds has changed, she said. While they are linked to meaning, they are less linked to rituals than prior generations were, she said. What they value:
1. Authenticity. This is an attribute that really everyone cares about, said Gorvitz. As products coming from earth, diamonds are the ultimate authentic product to bear witness to the most important and authentic moments in a person’s life.
2. Storytelling. Gorvitz shared the story of her grandmother’s engagement diamond, which, she said, was small and had a lot of “character.” While she and Gorvitz’s grandfather went on to buy a lot of other bigger and more valuable diamonds, that first stone was by far the most precious because it really represented the love they had.
3. Independence. Women in the focus group commonly said they grew up seeing a lot of ads growing up about women getting jewelry from their husbands, but if they’ve worked hard they’re going to invest in themselves and go get what they want, not wait for it. They also all reported feeling taller, stronger, and better when they wore those diamonds they bought themselves.
4. Jewelry is personal and it becomes something to pass to children and tie a memory to it. “For milestone moments, you’re not going to buy a bag,” said one focus-group participant.
5. Diamonds need to be casual. “If we want to convince girls to own something super nice, it still needs to be casual enough to wear everyday and have that reminder of something special every day, as opposed to that necklace they’re going to wear once a year,” explained a focus group participant.
The DPA ads launched last September have gotten very positive consumer and trade feedback, she said. People particularly gravitate towards the music, which is a very powerful way to convey emotion, she said. There’s no voiceover and no script. DPA commissioned the music for the commercials; and because response has been so powerful from consumers on social media who say they want to play it at their wedding, DPA is planning to commission a full piece of music, not just the short snippet that’s in the commercials, she said.
Gorvitz and Mobley encouraged the audience to log into the DPA website’s trade portal and to sign up for its newsletter. There, jewelers will find the “Real Is Rare, Real Is A Diamond” ads and campaigns; downloadable assets with links to ads; campaign, and information and training.
DPA’s next major initiative is to launch in-store training at the JCK Show in Las Vegas next month.
“Jewelers will learn what consumers really want to know that really affect how they think of diamonds,” said Mobley. The training also will have tips to respond to challenging questions around ethical sourcing and synthetics.
Last year DPA had 1.1 billion campaign impressions, not including social, PR, or events, said Mobley. “Our target market of 18-34 saw the campaign 19 times on average. We’ve been very effective at correcting an outdated narrative about diamonds.”
“The things you associate with one generation can be applied to others. That’s mission critical,” said Gorvitz. “We’re all humans. DPA’s mission is to forge an emotional bond between humans and diamonds that will last for all time,” added Mobley.