Engaging a Market
How does one company get millions of women to persuade millions of unsuspecting men to spend more than a month’s salary on a tiny glittery stone? Concept marketing!
The idea that diamonds represent "perfect love" evolved during the Victorian age through the encouragement of the De Beers diamond cartel, but was reinforced later with more sophisticated marketing techniques.
In the 1930s, De Beers engaged upon one of the first major product placement campaigns when it handed out hefty stones to Hollywood starlets and then arranged well-publicized photo shoots to enhance the value of the product.
Scenes were injected into film scripts which glamorized the bliss of jewelry shopping, and leading men awed their female counterparts with the momentous presentation of the diamond ring. The diamond had been made an inseparable part of courtship and marriage.
In 1947, an ad agency came up with the hugely successful slogan "A diamond is forever," equating the diamond’s durability with the concept of eternal love, further reinforcing the notion that the quality of love could be measured in carats.
In the 1960s, when the glut of smaller Russian diamonds entered the international market, De Beers responded by promoting the concept of the ten-year anniversary ring featuring the smaller stones.
In 1967, De Beers hired advertising agency J. Walter Thompson to popularize the diamond engagement ring in Brazil, Germany, and Japan. The concept of the diamond as a symbol of love had limited success in Brazil and Germany, but Japan has exceeded all expectations.
By 1978, half of all Japanese brides were given a diamond engagement ring. By 1981, the number had grown to 60 percent. A new tradition had been woven into the social fabric of Japan where nothing like it had ever existed before.
While, in fact, diamonds may crack, break or lose value, perhaps the marketing concept that diamonds equate to eternal love will last forever.