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Stephen Rego

He has been a journalist since the mid-1980s, and has spent close to two decades tracking the gem and jewellery industry while holding different editorial positions in industry specific publications and websites

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BW Businessworld

No Slogan Is Forever

The number 1 advertising slogan of the last century, the iconic 'A Diamond is Forever', will henceforth no longer be the vanguard message of the diamond industry as the Diamond Producers Association unveils a new platform to redefine diamonds for the millennial generation

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A little over a week ago, the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), an organisation set up last year by the world's largest diamond mining companies, including De Beers, revealed that it would be adopting a new campaign platform to promote diamonds among the millennial generation. That new platform is "Real is Rare. Real is Diamond".

Thus, 'A Diamond is Forever', the four words that were the cornerstone of all global marketing campaigns launched by De Beers in various parts of the world since 1948, will now no longer enjoy a monopoly in generic promotions, though they will probably still be used by De Beers to push its own Forevermark brand of diamonds and diamond jewellery.

The reason for the shift, the DPA says, is to redefine diamonds for the 21st century, giving them new meaning and aligning them with the perceptions and thinking of the new millennial generation.

Come September, the DPA plans to roll out a new generic marketing promotion based on this slogan in an attempt to boost the stagnant, if not actually sagging, demand for diamonds globally. Given the estimated spend on the campaign, it is likely that it will be largely focused on the US and may even be concentrated around social media, rather than print or electronic as in the past.

But, for an industry that has spent virtually nothing on generic promotions over the last decadeor more, even that will be a good start.

Between 2000 and 2005, when it was no longer the majority producer of diamonds, De Beers gave up its role as custodian and chief promoter of the industry. The generic advertising campaigns that it had carried out across the world came to halt, and though it is difficult to prove a direct one-to-one relationship, the industry widely believes that diamond sales have been in decline ever since.

Figures seem to indicate a correlation - the boom in the US began to slow down around that time, and demand for diamonds received a major body blow with the sudden onset of the 2008-09 crisis.

By 2011, though there was some recovery, diamond jewellery sales in the US were still at $ 27 billion, a level on par with sales in 2000. Remarkably, it was only in 2015 that sales of US diamond jewellery at $ 39 billion, moved ahead in value terms, of the previous peak of $ 37.5 billion achieved in 2007. Part of the reason, it is believed, is that diamonds are not as attractive as electronic items or exotic holidays to today's youth, the generation that should be driving demand for engagement and wedding rings.

The new DPA campaign is part of an effort to reverse this trend. Its slogan, the organisation suggests, is the result of "deep insight work with the millennial audience". The study, DPA says, reveals that "millennials long for real, lasting connections with others, but struggle to make them - or to feel sure they are truly authentic - in a world of constant flux, seemingly limitless choice, and superficial interactions".

DPA says that its research shows that "the opportunity exists for diamonds to represent the rare, precious and real connections that millennials crave" by giving them a "new meaning as a symbol to celebrate real connections".

A recent report by Deloitte says that today's luxury consumers are "empowered by social networks and digital devices"; "dictating increasingly when, where and how they engage with luxury brands"; seek a "more personalised luxury experience", and "expect to be given the opportunity to shape the products and services they consume".

Most experts in social media marketing emphasise the need for communications with the millennials to be authentic and personalised, as well as to engage them and stress sustainability and social benefit.

Clearly, the new generic slogan announced by the industry can only be a starting point, and a lot of the success of the new campaign depends both on the scale at which it is carried out and its ability to speak a new language and articulate it in a new form.

On the first count, India's Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) has already signed a MoU with the DPA, which among other things includes contributing towards the costs of the promotions.

Whether the new platform hits the right notes and strikes the right chord is something only time will reveal. After all, it is unlikely that anyone in 1948 would have been able to predict that 'A Diamond is Forever' would resonate with consumers for well near five decades!

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