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Tapping Into a New Market: How to Reach The 'Millennials'

Tapping Into a New Market: How to Reach The 'Millennials'

A global marketing campaign launched by Hearts On Fire which targets the so-called Millennials, people born between 1980 and the early 2000s, has put the spotlight back on to the issue of how to market diamond jewelry to this category of potential buyers.

The Millennials have already started to, or are about to, enter the marrying age, but, as marketers have discovered, this group's buying patterns are different from those of their parents and are extremely varied, thus making marketing to them a complex affair.

Hearts On Fire's Ignite Something campaign starts in September, featuring in fashion and bridal magazines as well as on television, digital outlets and social media channels. TV and video components of the campaign are expected to launch on Hearts On Fire’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in late August. This wide range of advertising and marketing platforms shows the challenge in reaching this generation of buyers.

Hearts On Fire says it is aiming to redefine the experience of owning a diamond for the millennial generation. With a deeper understanding of how this age-group is transforming the luxury space, Hearts On Fire is seeking to build a platform that will enable younger consumers to create their own form of luxury.

“Today’s young couples are part of a generation that has a different relationship with tradition – they are doing things the way that they want to,” said Kristin Suppelsa, vice president of marketing a Hearts On Fire. “This new platform further increases our ability to speak directly to all generations, and welcome the new traditions that they are forging for themselves.”

Established in the United States in 1996, Hearts On Fire was acquired last year by the retail jewelry giant Chow Tai Fook which is based in Hong Kong. Following the acquisition, the brand has begun a series of initiatives to increase consumer awareness of its products around the globe. While De Beers' A Diamonds Is Forever tagline worked well for the generations born during and after World War II, marketers realize that this needs adapting for the new generation of Millennials.

Hearts On Fire previously designed a new jewelry buying experience in-store that evokes some of the subtle design aesthetics and high-tech vibe one finds in an Apple store in a bid to reach the 20-35 demographic.

The technology and digital innovation today mean consumer expectations have changed when it comes to how they want to shop. Especially when it comes to possibly costly items such as diamond jewelry. Consumers no longer want a traditional feel and are searching for a more unique, personal experience, and that appears to be even more the case with younger buyers.

Where previous generations took the traditional rites of passage into adulthood, Millennials want to follow a different path. They are delaying marriage, or doing away with it altogether. For those who choose to marry, they are dispensing with many of the wedding traditions marketers depend upon, such as investing three month's salary on a diamond ring.

"The problem for jewelry marketers isn't that Millennials are rejecting diamond engagement rings, but marketers need to talk with the next generation in a way that is meaningful and relevant to their lifestyles. The Diamonds Are Forever tagline has lost meaning for a generation that has heard the widely-quoted '50 percent of all marriages end in divorce' statistics and often times has experienced it in their families growing up," says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing.

Millennials are questioning the need to mark an engagement with the purchase of a diamond ring. A recent survey discovered that affluent Millennials (aged 24-34 years and incomes of $100k and above) get far more pleasure from their technology purchases than they do from buying fine jewelry.

Danziger says marketers and retailers need to discover how to change the conversation, so that buying jewelry is as fresh and exciting as the latest iPhone. The problem facing jewelers is how to communicate with Millennials to reassure them they already have the skills needed to buy fine jewelry and that doing so is just as cool as buying the latest techno-gadget.

"Jewelers need to learn a whole new language to connect with the next generation of jewelry customers - the Millennials. That language has to communicate not just in words and pictures, but in emotion and experience. It has to have the cool sophistication of high tech, but also the back-to-basics values of fine design and quality," Danziger says.

Marketers, manufacturers and retailers are recognizing the Millennials' potential as being important to their bottom line: the consumers who will drive the economy in the decades ahead.

Since the 1960s, the baby boom generation, born between 1946 and 1964, has dominated corporate strategies behind selling nearly everything. But now young adults in their 20s and 30s are overtaking baby boomers as the largest age group, changing the way everything is sold.

Perhaps the biggest change is that today’s young adults — in part because they came of age in a harsher economic climate, in part because they have many more choices — are putting off major life decisions as well as the big purchases that typically go with them. As a result, their consumer behavior is unpredictable. “They’ve learned to live life in a different way,” says one expert.

At the same time, Millennials are the most educated generation in history. Far more members of this generation are going to college than in past generations.

But they also have significant earning potential in the years to come and, because of the sheer size of the group, have the ability to reshape the economy in ways that haven’t happened since the huge baby boom generation was hitting the job market and moving into first homes.

Still, many young adults are proving particularly baffling to marketers and researchers. While baby boomers have long exhibited consistent brand loyalty, 20-somethings have a tendency to trade up and trade down.

What worked five years ago, doesn’t work now in terms of marketing and selling and advertising, say advertising experts. And this has created a lot of urgency as more and more Millennials enter the market and start to have money.

Millennials already represent a large part of consumer spending worldwide. By 2020, Millennials are projected to be 50 percent of the workforce and by 2025, this number is expected to reach 75 percent. This is a group of people that grew up as digital natives meaning they had access to social networks, smartphones, tablets, and pretty much all of the other pieces of technology that we use today and the new behaviors that go along with them. This is a generation that doesn’t know what it’s like to get 200 emails a day, sit in cubicles, or use many of the legacy technology platforms that most organizations use today. In addition, Millennials are also bringing new attitudes, values, and approaches to getting work done. It’s no wonder that organizations around the world are so concerned with this new generation of worker – and how to successfully market to them.

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