Thu, Feb 15, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Jewelry firms eye independent Chinese women amid slow worldwide demand

MARKETING BLITZ:The Diamond Producers Association plans to spend US$10 million to launch its ‘Real is Rare’ campaign, while firms worldwide are also boosting their budgets

Reuters, HONG KONG

A woman looks at jewelry displayed at a Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd store in Shanghai, China, on Feb. 1.

Photo: Bloomberg

A woman dressed elegantly in a black pants suit, hands tucked in her pockets, poses with confidence as she displays a collection of glistening silver medals gleaming from her tailored jacket.

“A memento to reward your own success,” reads the slogan alongside a diamond encrusted pendant in an advertisement from Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd (周大福珠寶), a Hong Kong-based jewelry company that has a big presence across China.

Facing slowing global demand for diamond jewelry, diamond companies from around the world are reshaping marketing campaigns to tap a growing pool of independent female spenders in China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Chinese and international players, such as Tiffany & Co, De Beers SA and the Diamond Producers Association, are increasing their marketing budgets by as much as 50 percent globally, the companies said.

The aim is to promote diamonds as a way for women to express themselves rather than tie the gems to traditional marketing notions of marriage.

In China, which is the fastest-growing market, this is a particular focus, executives said.

De Beers in September last year said 26 percent of all diamond jewelry in China was bought by women in 2016, with growth of about 12 percent annually for the country.

That rapidly growing market is being seen as a key prize for jewelry companies due to low penetration rates and rising spending power among an increasingly wealthy female population.

The challenge for diamond companies is to stay relevant at a time when spending on experiences and activities — such as travel — is gaining favor and many younger consumers are shunning traditional notions of marriage, jewelry executives said.

“Divorce rates are soaring, they see dating apps, cheating, that is very much of the environment they live in today,” Diamond Producers Association chief executive Jean-Marc Lieberherr said in an interview, referring to young people in China. “They are very suspicious of the idea of marriage in the sense as something as a fairy tale.”

The association, which represents miners such as Rio Tinto Group and Alrosa Group, has more than quadrupled its global marketing budget over the past two years and is planning to spend US$70 million this year, up nearly six-fold from US$12 million in 2016.

It is focusing on China and is planning to spend US$10 million launching its “Real is Rare” campaign in the country later this year.

Lieberherr said a key focus was to get consumers to move away from the notion of diamonds just as gifts for special occasions.

Alan Chan (陳義邦), deputy general manager at Chow Tai Fook in Hong Kong, said that over the past five years women had started buying diamonds themselves far more frequently in line with fashion trends.

“We see a growing trend of the self-use market by women,” he said. “There are more working ladies who are financially independent and have their own income. Instead of buying one every few years, now it can be a few times in a year.”

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