Michael Solomon on Linking Products to Culture – De Beers Diamond Ring

How do we increase engagement by linking a product with culture ? How an Ad Campaign invented the diamond engagement ring?

Professor Michael Solomon says that one of the compelling ways to increase engagement is linking the product to cultural stories or ceremonies. 

He cites the example of how De Beers Group was instrumental in linking a diamond ring to the the ritual of a man proposing to a woman on one knee. 

During the 1920-30s in the US, diamond engagement rings were not necessarily normal or expected, but today, it is almost a guarantee. 

De Beers advertising and communication dating back to 1940s linked a diamond ring with engagement by communicating that indestructible love should be symbolized with an indestructible stone. 

The marketing campaign worked extremely well. In the 1940s, few Americans proposed with the precious stone. As a matter of fact in 1940, only 10% of first time brides were receiving diamond engagement rings. Today three-quarters of American brides wear a diamond engagement ring, which now costs an average of $4,000.

In the late 1940s a copywriter conceived of the slogan that De Beers has used ever since: “A Diamond Is Forever.” 

From 1939 to 1979, De Beers’s wholesale diamond sales in the United States increased from $23 million to $2.1 billion. Over those four decades, the company’s ad budget soared from $200,000 to $10 million a year.

The De Beers campaigns didn’t stop with just the engagement ring. When it seemed like the engagement ring market was saturating, De Beers pushed for a second diamond ring later in your marriage. This diamond ring was to reaffirm your love and commitment to each other.

Michael talks of another celebrated example of Nike, which is not just buying a comfortable shoe, but a cultural desire ‘of being better than one is now’

Please visit our Youtube Channel for a Conversation between Michael Solomon & Jasravee Kaur Chandra on ‘Customer Engagement Strategy to Convert Bored Consumers into Fanatics’

Professor Michael Solomon on Customer Engagement Strategy

Professor Michael Solomon is a Professor of Marketing in the Saint Joseph’s University – Erivan K. Haub School of Business , Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

P.S. Diamonds can in fact be shattered, chipped, discolored, or incinerated to ash. 

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