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How a Generic Marketing Strategy is Captivating Consumers on the Values of Natural Diamonds

Article 2 Rough and Polished 1200x675 1

Rough natural diamond (left) and polished natural diamond (right)

Some of our culture’s most influential advertising campaigns have come not from individual brands but from product categories.

Since the 1950s, when tea and butter producers consolidated their resources to compete for coffee and margarine consumers, generic category marketing has raised the profiles of products including cotton (“The Fabric of Our Lives”), milk (“Got Milk?”), and New York (“I❤NY”).

Whether it’s eggs, tourism, or life insurance, any fragmented product category with no dominant player can represent the interests of all organizations through an association or governing body. Thus generic advertising can be used to educate consumers about a category, communicate its values, and counter any public myths or misconceptions.

Using a generic marketing strategy, a membership-based association defines the messaging and approach to ensure category cohesion and oversee tactical day-to-day planning, content, and campaigns. Membership in an industry association confers a recognizable “seal of approval” on participating organizations, and it establishes an informal network of trustworthy, reputable players.

Just as some product categories are fragmented, so is today’s media landscape. With consumers getting their information from so many platforms—search engines, social media, TV, print, in-store—an organization representing a category can tailor its messaging to fit specific audiences and contexts.

“Inspiration from TikTok is very different from Snapchat,” says David Kellie, CEO of the Natural Diamond Council (NDC). With generic marketing, he says, “you can curate a message specifically for audiences, creating content and using the analytics to identify which content resonates and drives the message.”

Presenting a Unified Message

Natural diamonds are anything but an everyday consumer product. They’re cherished, significant symbols of  unique, personal moments, and they’re priced as meaningful investments.

While a diamond brand may represent one specific view—regarding heritage, aesthetic appeal, or retail history—there’s little brand differentiation among natural diamond producers. Thousands of retailers, suppliers, wholesalers, and other players make up 80% of the category, Kellie says, and their cohesive marketing efforts aim not to compete internally but to raise awareness about the product through unified industry values.

This type of advertising promotes the product’s qualities even for players that aren’t association members but can still benefit from the authority and trust presented by the category while illuminating its values and processes to audiences across media platforms.

Unity is critical for a sector that competes with a perceived alternative: laboratory-grown diamonds. This category enjoys a “greenwashing” effect, emphasizing its lower price points and different production processes, but does so in ways that may mislead consumers into believing these products are more sustainable than natural diamonds.

Generic marketing allows the natural diamond category to unify under one global platform, communicate its shared values, and counter such misconceptions.

This marketing approach is designed to educate consumers that natural diamonds are real, rare, and responsible and that they adhere to strict regulations for sustainable and ethical sourcing, supporting small communities, and enduring investment value.

Becoming the Trusted Authority

One benefit of a category association to its members is that it conducts research to represent and benefit all players.

The Natural Diamond Council’s recent report, Diamond Industry Facts, compiles information that might not otherwise reach consumers. Some of this report’s findings can dispel misconceptions about natural and laboratory-grown diamonds, such as the following:

• Natural diamonds are easily distinguishable from laboratory-grown diamonds. They may look the same to consumers, but widely available technology can reveal patterns indicating whether they grew over a period of weeks or millions of years.

• Natural diamonds are ethically sourced. Producers adhere to such third-party regulations as the United Nations and World Trade Organization’s mandated Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which ensures conflict-free sourcing and supports mining communities. By contrast, laboratory-grown diamonds also require mining of raw materials and energy-intensive production using coal-generated electricity, but producers operate without such guardrails.

• Natural diamonds appreciate significantly in value. While natural diamonds have grown in value by an average of 3% per annum over the past 35 years, prices for laboratory-grown diamonds depreciate quickly. Between 2016 and 2023, a 1.5-carat laboratory-grown diamond may have lost 75% of its value.

• The natural diamond industry is committed to decarbonization, biodiversity, and sustainability. Some of the biggest organizations in the industry have committed to aggressive targets. The De Beers Group intends to be carbon-neutral by 2030, and Rio Tinto plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The industry protects areas four times larger than the land it uses and supports the livelihoods of 10 million people worldwide, with 80% of rough diamond value remaining with local communities.

Brands vs. Products

“Banishing outdated misperceptions has to be done with authority, using third-party audited data and credible case studies,” the NDC’s Kellie says. “We live in a world of confusing messaging, and the only way to break through the clutter of misrepresentation is to provide evidence with authoritative facts. When you do that, you establish a trustworthy platform that consumers believe in.”

Another key point about the role an industry council plays in generic marketing, Kellie says, is that consumers in some categories are attracted not so much to brands as to products.

“Generic marketing promotes the inherent and distinctive values of a product across the category,” Kellie says. “That’s especially important in this industry, where only 20% to 30% of diamond jewelry is branded, and most manufacturers and retailers are selling unbranded jewelry or jewelry with limited brand recognition.” The NDC essentially provides the natural diamond branding for the sector.

 Learn more about the  Natural Diamond Council.

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