Each generation moves and shifts – adapting to technology, growing our understanding of culture and the world, and changing based on developments in research and understanding of each other and ourselves. These shifts take many different forms, from the more widespread acceptance of personalisation and individuality to awareness and, therefore, action in response to the changes we are making to our world and its survival.
Generational changes are happening quicker than ever before, with the ability to see and react to not only the situations that directly affect us but also the ones that affect strangers from across the globe. In recent years and months, we have seen these situations play out before our very eyes, with some very real and very established global issues and some new ones, such as health pandemics we could never have predicted. Having these issues surround us daily, we slowly but surely change our fundamental needs and wants. Many of us are becoming more aware of how our actions and choices affect those around us and our planet.
In particular, we are seeing younger generations taking action – and very seriously. They are changing their lives to ensure that they are the solution, not the problem, to the world’s issues.
These shifts in human behaviour and interest need to be understood and recognised as we develop and grow the jewellery industry. As consumers adapt to new a normal and their wants and needs change as a result, the way they buy and their receptiveness to brands and products will also change dramatically.
As an industry, we need to not only be aware of these changes but also adapt ourselves to ensure that we are ready to respond to new consumer demands in the face of these changes. This requirement to understand our consumer goes hand in hand with our work on recruiting the next generation of buyer into the jewellery industry.
As this consumer – currently not old enough to purchase high-end jewellery – grows to an age where they want to mark a milestone like a relationship with something special, they may feel quite differently about purchases that the jewellery industry has historically been quite reliant on.
For example, a 15-year-old girl growing up now in an age where issues such as climate change, gender equality, race issues and class systems are being challenged, and the traditional norms of a relationship are becoming the minority, may not feel comfortable buying or accepting a diamond ring if she is unsure of where its elements were mined, how it affected the environment and who was part of the process when making her piece.
So how do we speak to her? How do we modify our message, our supply chain and our processes to ensure that when she is ready to buy jewellery, she will want to?
We have seen in recent years major brands such as Tiffany and Co, shift their campaign message to include all types of love. Their ‘My kind of Love’ campaign released in 2015 depicted their first gay and lesbian couple, strongly aligning the brand to support the LGBTQ community which at the time was forming to advocate for same sex marriage. The brand shifted their traditional message to include and support their evolving consumer, and it paid off.
Further reactions to the Marriage Equality debate of 2016-2017 came from Michael Hill and a plethora of other brands. Including Australia’s Peter W Beck whose same sex marriage campaign was released in 2013 after recognising the shift in trend and demand for ‘His and His’ wedding bands.
But it’s not just the changes in relationship status that require the jewellery industry to sit up and take notice. Major jewellery brands have adjusted their models to factor in environmental causes and equality.
3/4 Peter W Beck
Over many decades, De Beers has led the way in changing the way the diamond industry sources stones and minimises its involvement in conflict diamonds. Partnering with the World Diamond Council and supporting the Kimberly process, De Beers continues to be a leader, pushing the industry to be more mindful and to take action around diamond production. The company is now also focusing on conservation of the environment and wildlife.
In March 2018, Breitling launched a partnership with Ocean Conservancy, teaming up on a mission to clean, protect and conserve oceans and beaches. Watch brand TIVC – Time IV Change – is a vegan friendly brand, clearly targeting the significant
shift in clean and environmentally neutral eating. What will be the next humanitarian shift that will require the jewellery industry to react? And perhaps rather than react, why don’t we act? Brands and businesses that actively stand for humanitarian and environmental causes are shown to gain more trust from their consumer, especially younger generations who are actively seeking out brands who stand for something.
What do we do?
As participants in this industry, large or small, it is not only our responsibility to make good choices for our consumer, but to convey that message and intention when recruiting new customers. As consumers continue to be more aware of their impact on the environment and the world around them, they will seek to change their behaviour to ensure that whatever their actions, that they will have a neutral or positive effect on the world.
Proactive behaviour on our part, sourcing Australian product, reducing waste, and manufacturing locally, means that when that 15-year-old is ready to buy jewellery, she will not only want to, she will be proud to!
Read more from Laura Moore.