About a week ago, an industry magazine published yet another doomsday-style article regarding the meager prospects to be found in the Millennial consumer pool for diamond jewelry. They had produced market research to substantiate this; painting Millennials as broke, undiscerning hipsters fried by technology, more concerned by their electronics and ''experiencing life'' than in the luxury that is jewelry.
While I have heard some people from this generation (and the one before for that matter) take this stance and discourse on the matter, I hardly find that this interpretation of valuable market data constructive by my fellow industry authors. Let's look at it this way:
"Millennials graduated into tough economic times. Compared to our parent’s generation, we have more debt, less job prospects, and are less likely to own a home than the previous two generations”.
Market research was not needed for that nugget of wisdom. We have all felt how our wage-earning does not match the expanding cost of living. That said, it would not be the first generation to feel this kind of austerity. If we consider for a moment the generation that grew up in and worked through the Great Depression, these were people who knew disastrously dire circumstances which involved no job prospects, and home-owning was no where in sight for most; that's not even counting the looming threat of WW2. However, as the world emerged out of this time, people did not lose the desire to own luxurious things. In fact the prosperity that would come post-WW2 gave birth to the jewelry trend that we know as Retro.
|Big, bold and beautiful: Typically Retro jewelry. Photo courtesy of www.gemgossip.com|
If the industry could survive these austere times, it is because like everything else, it has learnt to evolve. Like our previous counterparts, we will have to evolve to accommodate our changing market. If your consumer market is undiscerning, perhaps it's worth developing programs and campaigns designed to show people the value of owning jewelry; that costume jewelry is just that, for costumes.
|Costume jewelry. Photo courtesy of www.dailymail.co.uk|
If your consumer market finds diamonds too formal, perhaps it's time to consider opening up to colored stones, and not just the ''big three''. Perhaps rather than focusing on jewelry as the gift you receive in the context of an anniversary for instance (remember, the relationship spectrum has greatly changed over the years), you can develop campaigns that are about making someone feel special just because, or even doing something nice for yourself.
|Just because.... Photo courtesy of www.flowerbasket.au|
If you say that the consumer market is increasingly craving authentic experiences, why not offer it? I've personally seen a growing interest in custom design jewelry (mostly refurbishing old jewelry). Why is that? Because rather than picking out something ready made, they can have a direct hand in creating something totally unique while making use of something that is already close to them (usually an heirloom). For good measure, you can even offer to create a 3-D design of the item you will create thanks to CAD-CAM technology, making good on this generation's obsession with electronics.
|CAD-CAM technology at work . Photo courtesy of www.cadjewellryskills.com|
I hardly think that the Millennial consumer pool is ringing the death toll on our industry. Rather than looking at our current market with nostalgic sighs, asking why it couldn't be more like the one that came before; more proactively we should be telling ourselves that we'll just have to get more creative.
Are you in?