It’s no secret that the jewelry industry has been begging millennials to shift their focus towards diamonds. With massive amounts of marketing tactics such as “rare is real”, it’s obvious, and that’s probably part of the problem. The truth is the millennial generation is something the world has never seen before.
No matter how many flashy stones you put in front of them, the fact still remains that they’re not spending their money on diamonds. Here are a couple reasons why:
Millennials: 18 years old or 39 years old?
If there’s one thing millennials hate more than slow WiFi, it’s being included in one big label and that’s exactly how most people group this generation.
Fact is, the oldest millennials are approaching age 40 and the youngest are still teenagers. When society groups an 18-year-old who’s getting ready for their first semester of college with someone who’s in their late 30’s and settled into their career together, there are bound to be a few differences.
Focus on the older segment of the generation. They’ve likely established a career and are shifting their focus towards settling down and building a family. However, this doesn’t mean your messaging can stay the same.
To effectively reach this hyper-connected generation, you need to speak their language. They don’t want to feel like another number on your sales sheet. You’re going to have to adapt your marketing efforts to include social media and other online techniques to meet them where they are and feed them the information they’re looking for.
We Have Other Priorities
Diamonds aren’t the only thing millennials are holding off on purchasing. Research shows that millennials are putting off other big purchases such as houses and cars as well.
In an attempt to find answers on social media, a Reddit user posed the question, “Millennials of Reddit, why aren’t you buying diamonds?”.
If you’re not familiar with Reddit, it’s basically an online forum where people can talk about topics going on in the world. It’s important to note that most of the comments and threads on Reddit are extremely sarcastic and vulgar. However, one user’s response was not only enlightening, but as a millennial myself, very relatable.
“What the f#!% would I do with a diamond?
I work 4 jobs and make ~60k a year. But a HUGE portion of that goes to my loans, my inflated rent, and paying for medical bills since insurance f*%$&^@ blows for me. And, I’ll admit it, I’m not great at budgeting. I eat out more than I should but it’s hard to find time when you’re working ~65hrs/week.
Someday I’ll own a car, and if I’m really lucky I’ll get a house of some sort. If I’m really super lucky, my partner and I will decide it’s tenable to have a kid in our economic situation.
But I can assure you – Diamonds are the furthest thing from my mind”
Ignoring the harsh language, this is authentic. It includes common struggles that millennials deal with every day of their lives. Paying off incredulous student loans. Building their career. Learning to manage their money. For the most part, their focus simply isn’t on choosing the right diamond.
Memories are forever
For many millennials, myself included, we grew up where marriage was more of a battle than a devotion and expression of love. Millennials grew up during a massive wave of divorce and were exposed to the darker side of commitment.
Instead, the generation is infatuated with experiences and creating memories that truly last forever. For instance, music festivals have never been more popular and spontaneous road trips during the summers pop up on Instagram every other week.
It’s all about the journey for millennials, not just the destination. This is one thing diamonds actually have going for them when it comes to millennials. The journey a diamond takes to form encompasses romanticism to its core, but millennials aren’t too interested in hearing about the inside of a volcano.
You need to create a story and a dialogue that means something to them. Embrace your story telling skills and get creative. Personalize the story to fit their situation in one way or another. Millennials are suckers for stories, and if it hits home, they’ll be yours forever.
There’s no doubt that millennials are unique. With eccentric lifestyles and no shame in expressing themselves, they don’t feel the need to conform to the diamond standard of love. In fact, some will reject it altogether. These aren’t the millennials you should be targeting.
On the other hand, there are millennials who prefer subtle alternatives to diamonds. Instead of preferring a diamond because of it’s perceived value and status, they’re choosing other stones such as sapphire or opal to represent their love.
In fact, a few comments down in the Reddit thread mentioned above was a response that stated, “Because Opals are dope dude!” Millennials grew up with over 150 tv channels to choose from and still complained that there was nothing to watch. We like options, but they just have to be the right one for us.
Threatening Alternatives – Synthetic Diamonds
There are many types of millennial consumers, and the synthetic diamond market is targeting those who are focused on sustainability and eco-friendliness.
Ambassadors for the synthetic diamond market such as Leonardo DiCaprio have clouded these consumers’ minds with the idea that the natural diamond market strips the land of nutrients and destroys ecosystems. Not only this, but there is no attempt to reassure consumers that blood diamonds don’t make their way into the stores.
Instead, they focus on positioning their lab-grown diamonds as a more humane and mindful alternative which simply isn’t true.
The natural diamond market brings jobs and economic sustainability to some of the poorest nations on earth. Now that conflict diamonds are known around the world, the market has measures in place to ensure that the diamonds that end up in stores are conflict free. Attacking the natural diamond industry is a direct attack on the livelihoods of the citizens in developing countries and puts money in the pockets of the rich.
When communicating this to millennials, you need to be careful. Whenever there’s a back and forth between companies, it becomes a “he said, she said” type of conversation and could get millennials to ignore both sides. Get millennials to discover this information on their own to effectively get the message across.
Bringing Millennials Back to Diamonds
So far, everything I’ve covered has been about why millennials aren’t buying diamonds. I’ve painted a pretty bleak picture about this generation as far as diamonds are concerned, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. There are a few ways you can connect and engage with these consumers, it’ll just take a bit more work than previous generations.
Tell a Relevant Story
To successfully bring millennials through your jewelry store doors, you’ll have to tell a story that resonates with them. Bring those deep feelings of love to the surface they try so hard to bury. Show people in situations similar to those that they’d be in so they can visualize themselves with the value your diamonds deliver.
Tell a Positive Story
To speak to the millennials who view the diamond market as inhumane because of conflict diamonds, keep your messaging positive. Include a story with each stone you sell with proper documentation so consumers know they’re conflict free.
In the good ol’ days, your marketing efforts could show someone who was clearly ready to get engaged, and you just had to present yourself as an option. Now, you need to drill down your targeting. As I stated farther up the page, some millennials are almost 40 and others haven’t started college yet. Make sure your marketing efforts are geared towards the older millennial segment.
With the rise of social media, you advertising efforts can be targeted based on a number of specific criteria such as age, occupation, and lifestyle. Creating more targeted marketing campaigns can help you nail down your messaging and focus your budget on the people ready to buy diamonds.
Education is key!
To bring it back to the Reddit comment, most millennials don’t know what to do with a diamond. Why are they so special? Why are diamonds the stones that signify love? It’s engrained in our minds that they do, but why?
Simply providing the information about diamonds to millennials and educating them about their immense beauty and complexity will bring about the appreciation other generations have shown towards them.
Ultimately, the biggest reason why millennials are putting off buying diamonds is because we’re preoccupied with laying the foundation for the rest of our lives.
There are ways you can effectively target and communicate with us though. For in industry who has used broadcast marketing messages so widely, it’s time to narrow your focus. Don’t use “millennials” as a segment, instead break up your target audience based on behaviors and lifestyles.
Millennials are looking for something special, regardless of if it includes a diamond or not. We’re looking at jewelry holistically instead of just the stone, so custom design jewelry could be a great way to connect and show value on a personal level.