1. When entering the eastern markets, De Beers had to face a market that was not necessarily homogenous; there were slight cultural differences all over the east, as well as major language differences. Through research conducted by JWT, De Beers learnt that there was no such person as an “Asian Consumer” and a regional campaign would not work. Purchasing motivations were driven by different historical and cultural influences. There were sufficient similarities across cultures on which to build regional brand strategies, but equally there were many local nuances to take into account for individual country advertising. For example, Chinese language commercials had to be in several forms to cater to Mandarin or Cantonese speakers and to readers of complex or simplified Chinese characters.
Even though jewellery has been important in Asia as a store of wealth it has been truer for gold rather than diamonds. Gold is easily tradeable on the commodity market compared to diamonds which must be valued by a trained professional. De Beers wanted the diamond to be worn as an everyday piece of jewellery. However, very little jewellery was worn with traditional Chinese clothing. Furthermore, in many eastern cultures, romance did not have a word and it was not common place to give rings or diamonds a sign of love. People thought of romance as the outward expression of love and did not expect it to last after marriage, when they had responsibilities.
2. De Beers segmented their markets by their age; however, through research they discovered it was the wrong way to segment the Eastern market. They realised segmenting the market using a woman’s’ attitude, i.e. Traditional Woman and Modern Woman would be more effective in targeting and marketing. All age groups had women with different attitudes; the segmentation of traditional singles, traditional married, modern singles and modern traditional women encapsulate these attitudes. Traditional singles are family oriented and obey family authority more strongly. They live at home and will readily move to their parents – in – law’s homes once married. Work is only a filler for time spent between finishing school and becoming a wife. The traditional single woman doesn’t want to be seen as wasteful or wanton, but enjoys spending on fun and fashionable things. She is careful to be seen in good light for a potential husband.
The modern single woman is a loyal daughter who generally lives at home. She can be outspoken and headstrong in her views and desires. When in need for independence she tempers with her strong family values. Her drive to be independent is an important part of who she is she wants to prove herself through a career. A woman in this segment wants to “show off” to her friends and colleagues, thus she spends money on herself. In order to get married she wants the right man who will prove himself of being worthy, prospects and money are important attributes of her future husband.
The traditional married woman is defined as a caring wife, mother and daughter. Her priority is her family; if she works it is generally economically driven. She finds validation and self worth as long as her family and husband are successful. Money she spends on her self is done so with the approval of her husband and money is spent primarily to give her husband/family status.
Unlike the traditional married woman, a modern married woman has two priorities, her family and herself. Women in this segment validate themselves by the success of their families and themselves. It is important for her to feel good and look good, thus she does not feel guilty about spending money on herself.
3. Japanese women, like other Asian women are involved in day to day chores at home. These chores involved the use of their hands. Diamond engagement rings used the popular design of the tatezume also know as the Tiffany settings. This setting is larger than normal designs and made it impractical for daily use. In addition, the large design of the ring might not be fashionable to some modern women who would want more modern designs. Furthermore, an expensive diamond is not something Asian women would risk wearing on a daily basis.
4. De Beers was entering a market rich in culture and history, and diamond rings were not a part of that culture. In the beginning, De Beers focused on selling its diamonds rings as engagement rings in Japan and encouraged them as a sign of love. In Japan the ideal entry point was the Yuino, the traditional Japanese engagement ceremony. Even though the institution of arranged marriages had declined, more than three quarter of the couples getting married went through a yuino ceremony. Traditionally the custom of exchanging rings was not practiced, however, in a post war Japan infatuated with everything Western, the ring was now common practice. De Beers capitalized on this custom and profited from high diamond sales in Japan as the Japanese families realised the status value such a ring endowed, a family that gave a diamond to the bride on during the yuino was obviously a well to do family.
However, a modern Japan started rejecting the formal nature of the yuino and its implied social conformity in favour of the jimi-kon, a plainer, less elaborate way of getting married. A jimi-kon wedding did not include diamond engagement rings. A drop in sales backed by research showed that a diamond as a “gift of love” was only accepted by 40% of Japanese women, the real reason behind the rise in diamond sales during the tenure of the yuino was conformity to the tradition of giving diamond rings during the ceremony. Thus, De Beers was forced to reposition diamond rings and remove the standard campaign specifying an exact price to be paid for the ring. Diamond rings were now positioned as “gifts of love” for the wedding ceremony and as a gift for oneself.
5. Entering the Chinese market was a smart move by De Beers. China’s large population and booming economy allows the top 30% of the population to be able to afford a diamond ring that is a market that is the size of the entire US population. China is also a country where men were as interested in diamonds as women, thus not restricting the target market.
China was unlike the other eastern countries, it was important for De Beers to work with the Chinese government before launching a full scale promotion program in China. This ensured the implementation of diamond certification standards and a reduction in counterfeiting. The Chinese culture spanned some 5,000 years; wedding traditions had existed for a long time and involved not only the bride and groom, but the whole family. It was a challenge for De Beers to introduce the diamond ring into this culture. Furthermore, the standard De Beers promotion line of a diamond as a “gift of love” was not accepted by a status oriented Chinese population. In China love and emotions are less of a priority than money and status. Chinese women wanted a man who will be able to provide for them. This was the key to increasing sales in China. After testing a number of slogans, De Beers decided to go with the “mei man” slogan which roughly translated to a “bright future”. In a mei man marriage the couple had the relaxed feeling of best friends as well as lovers and home life was materially prosperous and successful. As a symbol of a bright future, giving a diamond ring during the wedding was more welcome, this slogan also catered to fulfilling the desired status positing of the woman. De Beers has managed to position the diamond perfectly in the mind of materialistic Chinese woman, thus forcing prospective husbands to spend money on the purchasing of diamonds to satisfy their wife’s desire for wealth and status.
In China, a less developed market, De Beers did not segment based on age or attitude. The main marketing in China was married women. Research showed than 80% of diamond purchasers were married women in the age range of 25 – 44 years who had not received a diamond wedding ring. The campaign for these women was Xing fu meaning fortunate. The Xing fu campaign focused on promoting the diamond as a status symbol and the ultimate luxury for a woman who has it all, i.e. is a wife, mother, friend and attractive. The diamond a rare and beautiful stone symbolized reaching the ultimate state of life.
De Beers in China have developed an extremely good campaign based on a good research. They managed to find the two main target markets, and understand the attitudes of these markets. De Beers positioned diamonds as the ultimate luxury and status symbol in the minds of the heartless and materialistic Chinese population. The campaign has obviously worked very well as in only five years after entering the Chinese market, one-third of the brides in Shanghai and half of the brides in the Rmb 2,000 and above monthly income bracket were receiving a diamond ring on their wedding day. Furthermore, the 88% of elite women population in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou had diamond rings, and many were multiple owners, this is more than in the United States.