Modern FamilyJanuary 15, 15
Kudos to Tiffany & Co. for its latest ad campaign, which features a range of “modern” couples on the path to matrimony. Among them is a same-sex couple who in Peter Lindbergh’s photograph look as perfect as the steps of the New York brownstone on which they are sitting.
Since these are “modern” times and chances are that many engaged couples no longer fit the traditional perception of what a newly engaged couple should look like – they are older, come with baggage, come with children, come with a same-sex partner – Tiffany has created a beautiful and accurate – if airbrushed – version of our new reality.
Given how common same-sex marriage and partnerships are, it’s surprising that more companies have not made more of an effort to embrace this niche and potentially profitable market.
Currently, same-sex marriage is legal in 36 states, the District of Columbia and 21 Native American tribal jurisdictions. In addition, there are many other individual cities/areas that sanction same-sex marriage. Such partnerships are also legal in countries as diverse as Argentina, Iceland, South Africa and Uruguay, and the list is growing.
So, is it just that the jewelry industry is still a very traditional one, or is it simply that people haven’t thought about exploiting this niche market? I don’t know, but what is clear is that there is money to be made by those willing to go after it.
To put this potential in perspective, online wedding mecca The Knot, bible of the newly engaged and also a great resource for engagement and wedding statistics, also breaks down some of the facts for same-sex marriage.
While proposing with a ring is not as common for same-sex couples as for straight couples, The Knot says that two out of three couples (62 percent) exchange an engagement ring before or after the proposal, not universal by any means, but not a bad base line. Don’t forget, however, that when it comes to same-sex couples, there is more chance that both partners will opt for a ring – diamond or otherwise – making the prospect that much rosier for jewelers.
Compare this to straight couples. Despite well-meaning attempts, the concept of the “mangagement” ring for newly engaged males has not exactly set the jewelry world on fire, meaning that for every two people, in most cases there is only one ring.
While it is true that same-sex couples are less likely to have a formal proposal (58 percent) than straight couples (94 percent), the actual wedding is a very big deal for same-sex couples. Although they are spending less on average ($15,849) on their weddings than straight couples ($29,858), they're having more intimate affairs (77 guests on average versus 138) and still investing just as much on their guests, with an average spend of $205 per head (compared with $220 per head for straight couples). Clearly, it’s time for jewelers to think about how they can be a part of the special day in a more meaningful way, from supplying the wedding rings, to contributing gifts for family members and close friends.
Further, same-sex couples have a lot more control over their own finances given that, according to The Knot, 85 percent are paying for their wedding themselves, compared with only 13 percent of straight couples, which means there is less pleasing family members, and more pleasing themselves.
Just because the make-up of the couple may not be “traditional” does not mean that the wedding and lead up to it – including the all-important engagement – is not. As Joe Landry, executive vice president, publishing, for Here Media, said, "One year after the Supreme Court's landmark rulings on marriage, this [The Knot] survey illustrates their enormous impact playing out in the lives of couples who want to marry. As you might expect, same-sex couples are much the same as everyone else. We share a passion for the great traditions in wedding celebrations –from exchanging rings to marrying in a suit or tuxedo – but we also like to add our own unique twist on the celebrations."
Of course, every jeweler and every brand and every company has to decide for themselves if they want to try to attract a particular demographic, but they already make these decisions every single day in the items they design, the price points they set and the audience they seek to reach.
Whether it’s gay or straight, true love isn’t a beautifully shot advertising campaign and it isn’t just a matter of a big diamond. True love is a celebration of commitment and promise between two people. When it comes down to it, isn’t that the most important thing of all?