OPINION: De Beers CEO highlights subtle shifts in the consumer landscape

In De Beers’ 2018 Diamond Insight Report, Bruce Cleaver reflects on what has changed since the annual report launched five years ago, and what’s needed for the diamond industry to keep on sparkling…

Diamonds have been the ultimate representation of life’s most meaningful demonstrations of love and commitment for generations.

However, with younger consumer groups – Millennials and Gen Z – starting to play bigger roles in the global economy, a number of questions arise: do love and relationships mean the same thing as they did to older generations? Is the role of diamonds within modern relationships changing, and if so, how? And how does the diamond industry need to evolve to ensure it reflects younger consumers’ values?

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These are among the questions we seek to address in this year’s Diamond Insight Report, as it is clear that we are seeing subtle shifts in the consumer landscape.

The ‘always on/always connected’ nature of today’s consumers – buying what they want when they want it – is resulting in changes to the typical decision-making and purchasing approach. Retailers across a range of industries are finding they need to rewrite the rule book when it comes to forging and maintaining connections with
consumers.

It is no longer a realistic option to place a product in a store front or on the home page of a website, run some
traditional advertising and then simply sit back and wait. In a world where media consumption habits are in a state of flux, the marketing tropes of yesteryear cannot be relied upon as they once were.

With their focus on networks and instantaneous information sharing within an increasingly connected world, today’s consumers want businesses to demonstrate they understand what truly matters to them.

To meet this expectation, we need to listen closely to consumers, bringing with us innovative and thought-provoking
propositions that set us apart from the rest.

Trust is a fundamental component of this. For younger consumers, what you do and how you do it is becoming just as important as what you sell and how you sell it, and paying lip service to ‘doing good’ simply isn’t good enough.

It is a growing imperative that corporate responsibility and positive social impact should be at the heart of business strategies and the driving force behind every decision we make. And for consumers to trust an organisation’s intentions, the expectation has moved from ‘tell me’ to ‘show me’ what you do to make the world a better place. The expectation is clear, and it’s now down to us to prove to consumers that we are worthy of their trust.

But it seems one thing the industry does not need to prove to young consumers is that diamonds are the perfect symbol of love. Those in the diamond sector must recognise that love may now be expressed in many ways, and diamonds may also be used differently to symbolise it, but the connection remains as strong as ever.

This is our fifth annual Diamond Insight Report, and a lot has changed in those five years. However, with the younger
consumer’s desire for qualities that diamonds can perfectly embody – including love, connections, authenticity and positive social impact – the most exciting changes will be ahead of us if we seize the opportunity to shape the future of the diamond industry.

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