A luxury goods company grapples with product adoption

engagement ring

Our Client: An international company that specializes in the manufacturing, design and sales of diamond bridal and fashion jewelry.  The company utilizes leading edge technology to create products for the savvy jewelry consumer.  The company is proficient in the production of Lab Grown Diamonds (LGD), and believes this product has significant growth potential.

Lab Grown Diamonds:  How to equate value?

A lab-created diamond is “grown” inside a lab using advanced technology that replicates and accelerates the natural diamond growing process. The result is a manufactured diamond that is chemically, physically, and optically the same as those grown naturally deep within Earth. Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds.

Despite assurances from gemologists that LGD are identical to mined diamonds, many consumers have a difficult time equating comparable value to these new diamonds.  The Lab grown diamond industry often positions their product as ethically sourced, in comparison to many “blood diamonds” that have negative humanitarian and environmental associations.  As women make up the majority of the jewelry wearing public, many struggle to estimate the value of LGD’s in a category of products that has long been perceived as rare and expensive.

The Engagement

The client approached RESEARCH STRATEGY GROUP to understand both the rational and emotional needs of consumers and help grow the acceptance and sales of Lab Grown Diamonds.

RESEARCH STRATEGY GROUP proposed the following objectives for a study:

  • Understand the underlying psychological needs that are met through purchasing and wearing mined diamonds and how these needs may or may not be met through the purchase of LGDs.
  • Understand the current diamond landscape and assess consumers’ openness and sentiments towards LGD
  • Explore the role that diamonds (both engagement rings and fashion diamond jewelry) play in the lives of women
  • Explore the diamond consumer journey from both a male and female perspective to uncover the rational and emotional drivers of purchase

The conclusion of the project would reveal strategic recommendations that could be used in marketing communications and brand positioning. The company would understand the motivational triggers to enhance LGD purchase consideration.

Our work

RESEARCH STRATEGY GROUP recommended conducting foundational research that would provide the client the consumer texture and feelings that yield a point of differentiation.  The approach would utilize ethnographic research analyzed through a behavioural science lens that would peel back the layers of the diamond buying ‘onion’.

Methodology

  • a total of 30 applied ethnographies were conducted:
  • (10) two-hour in-home immersions in a major US urban centre
  • (20) 90-minute in-depth web-assisted telephone interviews (WATIs) with consumers across the US
  • split between males (6) and females (24)
  • split between bridal focused (6) and ‘fashion jewelry’ (24)
  • for bridal interviews, respondent had to be likely to get engaged in the next 12-18 months or had already done so in the prior 12-18 months; anticipate or have purchased an engagement ring
  • for ‘fashion jewelry’ interviews, respondents had to be likely to purchase a piece of diamond jewelry for themselves or for someone else in the next 12-18 months

Our approach to in-home applied ethnography integrates behavioural science to identify opportunities to influence behaviour change to ultimately drive product/service adoption and usage, target new market audiences and understand the evolving needs and context of existing audiences.

Interview objectives

  • Understand respondents’ cognitive dissonance for Lab Grown Diamonds.
  • Determine the role mined diamonds will play vs. LGD in target consumers’ minds.
  • Develop foundational learning of the diamond buying market (MD and LGD) that brings ‘texture’ and ‘feeling’ to general market knowledge already available.
  • Understand what women need and want in a differentiated diamond offering.

Insights

The research uncovered a trove of actionable insights that is now the foundation for a marketing and communications plan.

The client was provided a strategic road map that includes:

  • Short-term and long-term target segments.
  • The emotional and motivational purchase triggers for both mined diamonds and LGD
  • The current barriers – broken down by demographic -that remain for widespread adoption of LGD
  • Specific approaches to LGD communications and marketing plans

While much of the learning is proprietary, we can divulge some general learnings:

  • Some specific needs and occasions were identified as the best markets to target for LGDs.
  • The study revealed the importance behind what the diamond communicates to others and the mechanism by which it will facilitate social interactions.
  • There is currently a knowledge gap around LGD, which results in misconceptions about what they are, how they are produced, and the value they bring.
  • The “reason to believe” remains largely undefined in the LGD space. People want to understand what LGDs bring to the market and why they should consider LGDs, above and beyond the lower price tag.

While there is strong emotional connection with traditional diamonds, there are specific signs that these emotions are not sustainable in the long term.

About methodologies used:

Applied Ethnography

Behavioural Science