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The Power of Emotion and Perception in Marketing – De Beers

Updated: May 23, 2022

De Beers Group is an international corporation specialising in the mining, exploitation, and retail of diamonds. Founded in 1888 by Cecil Rhodes, the company now generates revenues of over $6 billion, but it is the marketing of De Beers that is more impressive.

De Beers understood that diamonds themselves had very low intrinsic value, so instead of marketing them for what they are, they marketed them as a feeling by playing on the emotions, values, and ethics surrounding romance and marriage. Nobody, apart from the super-rich, wanted to buy diamonds from their initial market research, so they created the value themselves.

This type of marketing is referred to as emotional marketing. Emotional marketing can be defined as the marketing/advertising that taps into emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger, or fear, to elicit a consumer response.

There are many reasons why emotional marketing is so effective. Pringle and Field (2008) found that emotional marketing campaigns (31%) were more effective than rational (16%) and combined (26%), thus meaning emotional marketing has an impact on consumer purchase decisions. A study from Monista (2018) shows that customers with emotional ties to a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value and will likely recommend the company at a rate of 71% - considerably higher than the average rate of 45%.

In 1930, De Beers created the slogan ‘A diamond is forever’ making the connection between diamond rings and the eternity of marriage and romance. Prior to the campaign, 10% of first-time brides received diamond rings, in 1990, that rose to 80%. The campaign not only encouraged males to purchase diamond rings for engagement proposals but also discouraged them from re-selling as it would disrupt the market and reveal their low value.

De Beers ran further campaigns around how much one should spend on a diamond ring, In the 1980’s campaigns such as “Isn’t two months’ salary a small price to pay for something that lasts forever?”. This campaign justified the pricing strategy De Beers set by using the ring to symbolise marriage.

Many companies have adopted this approach over the years, with notable examples such as the Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign – a campaign aimed at battling to keep young girls' confidence high. John Lewis’ Man on the Moon campaign targeted the audience with sadness and empathy that turn into feelings of warmth.

Now you understand how powerful emotions and perceptions are when it comes to your brand and marketing, why not let a specialist brand development agency take your brand to the next level? Get in touch!

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