And What You Might Be Doing Wrong
(written by a millennial) 

Jewelers and jewelry retailers are trying to break into a younger market- the perplexing millennials. A demographic always on the look out for something new and creative, an infinite number of marketing campaigns have been crafted and geared towards this enigmatic group.

Everyday we see new strategies being suggested by marketers on how to appeal to millennials, what qualities they look for in a company, which types of content they appreciate, etc.

Yet many businesses and brands seem to struggle with these endeavors. I’ve noticed this especially in the jewelry marketplace and, in my opinion, there are a few key factors fueling the disconnect between the jewelry industry and millennials:



Jewelry Has An Essence of Traditionalism

I’ve talked about humanity’s love of jewelry before, and I noted that one of the catalysts for the ardor of jewelry is its innate nature of tradition.

Jewelry preserves history, provides people with stories and family heirlooms, offers an explicit bond between individuals…but just because it can be linked back through millennia doesn’t make tradition the most effective strategy to target millennials.

One could make the argument that millennials are the most counterculture generation yet, and even if that sentiment is untrue, they at least think they are.

Take notice of any industry’s influencers in the past 20 years and they more than likely adopted a counterculture personality for their brand. This is vitally important. It’s something that millenials not only align themselves with but also view as authentic (when done properly).

For a tradition-heavy industry such as jewelry this shift has been hard to make, and while “traditional” jewelry sales still occur, there’s a large segment of millennial fashion and accessory shoppers that don’t view jewelry in the same way previous generations have, nor do they purchase it for the same reasons.

Coincidentally, this is something that’s been recently addressed in the jewelry marketplace. A new campaign targeting millennial groups, titled “Real is Rare”, was run just a few weeks ago. It consisted of two ads, which you can view below:

Did you watch them? Good! Here’s the problem…


 

Genuine or Not, Millennials Can Read Between the Lines

The majority of millennials lead a different life then their parents had. Most need to live at home after college, have substantial debt they need to pay off, are struggling to solidify their place in the workforce.

In a lot of ways, their growth to independence (at least financially) is stunted, and even millennials who are in serious and committed relationships will put off getting engaged for these reasons.

That’s the point of the ads above: the “Real is Rare” campaign utilized the typically atypical millennial relationship, one that doesn’t necessarily involve marriage, as a selling point for diamonds.

(Just because we’re not married doesn’t mean our relationship isn’t real. A diamond makes our relationship real and real is rare. What we have is special. We don’t need to live a “traditional” lifestyle to be happy)

That’s the general theme of these ads. If the goal was to target millennials (and it was), it DIDN’T hit the mark.

Connecting back to my previous points of counterculture and steering away from traditionalism, the Real is Rare campaign seems to embody these traits – but it comes off as disingenuous and inauthentic.

If anything, it comes off as pandering and that’s a big no-no.

Millennials are conscious of marketing. It’s plastered all over social media, represents nearly every link on the Internet, is not only played during commercial breaks but is within the TV programs themselves.

Long story short, millennials are used to marketing attempts and can easily identify them.

But millennials aren’t necessarily anti-marketing; they’re anti-deception. They know you’re trying to sell them a product; they just want genuine information about it. They don’t want to be acculturated into adulthood nor do they feel the need to have their lifestyle confirmed and lauded; cause they’re just gonna do it regardless.



Finding a Voice 

So how do you market effectively towards a group who’s so actively exposed to marketing messages? That’s a tough question, and it’s a case-by-case basis.

Branding your jewelry is pivotal. And going off that point, I’d like to take a quote from an industry publication that discusses the LACK of a need for branding jewelry:


(Source: National Jeweler)

To a certain extent, I agree with this statement– the number one way to achieve success in business is by providing people with a satisfying experience and creating repeat customers.

But I think the proceeding elements, “what you look like, your corporate culture, the “feel” of doing business with you, the awareness you have in the marketplace or how you may or may not be identified by your prospects and clients” all play a huge factor in this.

Millennials know that everyone is trying to sell them something; it’s how the company looks and feels that’s their deciding factor.

If you want to engage a younger audience, you need to be yourself.

Jewelry is artwork, and like any other artistic medium, it’s subjective.

No one jewelry brand or piece will be for everyone and that’s okay. That’s what creates uniqueness and differentiation.

Just like a film that attempts to appeal to everyone, a jewelry brand that tries to cater towards all types of jewelry lovers will be nothing more than white noise, inevitably falling flat.

Millennials will ignore a noncommittal brand with no declared stance or image. When that’s the case, they’ll more than likely steer clear. Conversely, if you market a brand by directly catering it towards millennials heavy-handedly, it will come off as duplicitous. But, if your brand and image are straightforward and your marketing accurately represents what your jewelry brand is about, where your inspiration stems from and/or what your style is, millennials will listen to what you have to say.