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Rapaport: Take Millennials Seriously When They Tell You What They Want

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They want to have a say. So let them.

Martin Rapaport focused on the rapid pace of disruptive change during his annual Rapaport Breakfast at the JCK Las Vegas show on Wednesday.

Change is not just about technology. People are changing the way that they think. It’s a double whammy of change.

We’ve heard over and over again that the millennial mantra is “spend money on experiences rather than stuff.” That’s also been interpreted to mean “life is about memories, not diamonds.”

But keep in mind that diamonds represent the “mother of all memories,” the physical embodiment of the memory of an engagement or other life-affirming event.

“We don’t sell the product. We sell the idea behind the product,” Rapaport reminded the audience.

So, how to deal with those problematic millennials and why do you have to? Well, we all know they can’t just be ignored. Millennials are 27 percent of the population and the engagement ring buyer is the jeweler’s feeder stock.

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“We can’t lose the engagement ring market. That is the foundation, the basis of what is going on around here,” Rapaport says. “Jewelers can’t afford to lose consumers who decide that diamonds are dirty or conspicuous or ostentatious … .”

So, what to do?

Take seriously their desire for something that’s customized. They want to have a say. They want it to be an experience and they want the engagement ring purchase to be fun

”Jewelers can’t afford to lose consumers who decide that diamonds are dirty or conspicuous or ostentatious.”

So hire some millennials, particularly young women who are passionate about shopping for jewelry, who can make the experience more fun. Add energy and youth and personality to your company culture.

Concentrate on communications. Reach out to them where they are. They are not reading their email. They’re texting and they’re using social media to communicate.

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Instead of fighting the internet; be the internet.

“You have to be everywhere,” he says.

Determine what you can do better than anyone else, what you are passionate about and ask yourself if it can be profitable and sustainable. The convergence of those three things is the key to finding success.

Finally, be ethical about sourcing. Dig deeper. Ask questions. Join organizations fighting the good fight. Not only because it’s important to millennials, but also because it’s the right thing to do as human beings.

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