As iconic jeweler Tiffany & Co. turns its marketing attentions to Gen Z, what can be learned from its efforts to attract young consumers to its natural diamond offer?
In the face of increasing competition from lab-grown diamond brands, one of America’s most storied jewelry houses is pouring resources into winning over Gen Z.
On March 31, Tiffany & Co. posted a close-up of a sparkling diamond to its Instagram account, with the teaser “Are you ready to put your best foot forward?”
So far, so predictable, for a brand known for its timeless diamond jewelry. A day later, came the Facet sneaker, hand-set with ‘diamonds’, spinning on its toe amongst the happy couples and solitaire rings.
“Good one,” came the reaction from Pharrell Williams, recently named menswear creative director for Louis Vuitton, to Tiffany’s April Fool. The diamond-dusted prank had come hot on the heels of the brand’s recent collaboration with Nike on a pair of Air Force 1s with Tiffany silver hardware, both part of a business strategy seemingly designed to woo the Gen Z consumer.
The shift began under former creative director Ruba Abu-Nimah, who was brought in after the brand’s $15.8 billion acquisition by LVMH in 2020, and has involved carefully chosen ambassadors, a foray into NFTs, and most famously, the 2021 campaign with Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
The case for change
Experts believe this new marketing focus from one of the biggest natural diamond jewelers in the US is due to the inroads made by lab-grown diamond brands like Vrai, Lightbox, and Clean Origin into the jewelry market, especially the engagement rings space at Tiffany’s core.
In 2022, the global lab-grown diamond market represented $22.45 billion, according to Research and Markets, and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9% over the next five years. They are marketed as being a more sustainable, less expensive and more customizable alternative to mined diamonds, making them especially appealing to eco-minded Gen Z.
But lab-grown diamonds are not part of the story for a jewelry house with romance and tradition at its heart. Sam Broekema, editor-in-chief of Only Natural Diamonds, believes that the importance Gen Z places on trust could play in Tiffany’s favor: “The desire for authenticity that marks Gen Z coincides perfectly with the values of natural diamonds: rarity, transparency, true sustainability versus greenwashing.”
How is it landing?
According to research firm Gen Z Planet, this generation’s combined income had already reached $360 billion in 2021, which is no small incentive to reach out with a strong narrative and faces — like Zoë Kravitz and Florence Pugh — who speak to them.
However, “Gen Z consumers are aged 10 through 26 this year and hardly getting started as self-purchasing luxury consumers,” says Pamela Danziger, founder and CEO of Unity Marketing, which specializes in the ‘American Affluent’ consumer. She believes the new Lock collection, launched in September 2022 and faced by 26-year-old K-pop sensation Rosé, is not realistic for this group. “Price points start around $5,000 for a ring and rise to $36,000 for a full
pavé bracelet — pricey for a young person just beginning their career.”
While targeting a future consumer has worked for brands like Gucci, Danziger cautions against marketing that could alienate Tiffany’s core customer. According to a survey by The Affluent Consumer Research Company, Tiffany still has the highest brand loyalty amongst jewelry companies for millennials
Wrist stacks of diamond pavé certainly looked fresh against Hailey Bieber’s tattoos in its Holiday 2022 campaign, and the Nike sneaker stands out among those famous blue boxes on the Tiffany grid. But will the house’s efforts to bring natural diamonds to Gen Z pay off? As this generation becomes more affluent over the next five years, time will tell whether clever marketing is enough to win over a valuable and discerning new consumer.
Image: A Tiffany & Co. diamond engagement ring. (Tiffany & Co.)