How To Transform Tiffany & Co.

July 1, 2017By Paige Rolfe


Tiffany boxAccording to the U.S. Census Bureau, the American jewelry market overall has seen a rise in consumer activity, but iconic brand Tiffany & Co. has experienced a decline.

When business development problems are ill-defined and the executive team is at a loss, the brand can become the most useful concept for not only studying performance issues but also unveiling new growth potential. 

Your brand is everything that you do and how it’s being interpreted and recalled in the mind of consumers. It includes the products you sell, the image and message you project, the promises you make, the consumer’s experience, your values, associations, and character. The consumer receives all of this each time they interact with your brand at any level or touch point. They’ll either be satisfied by what you offer -- or unfulfilled.

By evaluating each piece through the lens of the brand, executives can identify what is not working and what is working well. Strengths can be capitalized. Issues can be adjusted.

Brand Position vs. Sales

Tiffany & Co. has made a number of strategic moves in and out of the company in the past year. It has included new executive and creative team members, celebrity spokespeople, advertising campaigns and retail store makeovers. This can drive a temporary increase in sales. They are expected steps to take.

But what Tiffany hasn't done (or hasn’t done well) is redefine its brand position. Sales are harder to attain, if not entirely impossible, without clear and strong positioning. Overall growth efforts will be a challenge as a result.

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

More often than not, how an executive team perceives the brand is inconsistent with how most consumers perceive the brand.

Consumer, sales and marketing data can only tell a part of the story. It is often full of inaccuracies and flaws by nature. It is not the ideal place to look (or look at alone) when a brand has lost its soul.

Without meaning at the executive team and corporate level, it’s harder to attain among consumers. Very little of what Tiffany & Co. has done in the past year signals an inherent understanding and cohesiveness of what the brand represents. It's no wonder turnaround efforts might be lost.

Mining For Meaning

Meaning is important because it creates a connection with the consumer. It’s an emotional connection and story that can’t be told by data.

While Tiffany & Co. tends to pride itself on its jewelry and diamonds, it was originally a stationary and gift shop. Founder Charles Lewis Tiffany became known for his tireless search for one-of-a-kind objects, which made him very popular among the global elite. Jewelry was added to its product offering due to the natural fit.

charles tiffany

Two prominent elements from the Tiffany & Co. founding story that the company seems to forget in its current brand and marketing efforts: “Gift” and “One-of-a-kind.”

A gift can be defined as something of great worth or value; also: a person esteemed as rare or precious.

This doesn’t just apply when consumers are gifting others. It’s also a powerful motivator when one is gifting his or her self. Gifts are a powerful picture of what people have of each other and themselves, transmitted materialistically. Gifts are symbolic, both representational and emotional, allowing communication without the use of language. 

Tiffany & Co.'s 2016-2017 brand campaigns signal a number of things -- timelessness, elegance, and beauty. But they fail to tell the consumer how to use Tiffany & Co. products and why. When a brand is in turmoil, this critical piece is relevant.

Iconic brands tap into the archetypal essence of things.

Hidden Gems

Tiffany & Co. should consider what else it might have to offer the consumer. It’s in its DNA to travel the globe looking for one-of-a-kind ideas for the luxury lifestyle – dining room table, desktop, and other places. Unique items to gift that are as precious as their recipient.

The lifestyle category encompasses a larger range than fashion alone. The luxury consumer has always appreciated aesthetic far beyond its fashion and style. Today, the mainstream consumer increasingly does so as well.

In the past decade, many American brands have shifted to what has sold in the past -- to their own demise and turmoil. It has essentially created a market of similarity and redundancy, where the consumer then motivates by price and not originality or access.

It’s largely why so many foreign brands like Zara and Net-a-Porter have been able to take sales from American brands. They offer something different in a sea of sameness. When they do offer what can be found everywhere, they often win the battle of price.

Luxury consumers have always appreciated aesthetics far beyond fashion and style.

Gucci was down in sales and market position a few years ago. Today its product is highly unique. Extraordinarily different. The media and industry are applauding its ability to turn itself around. Market and product differentiation are powerful.

Tiffany & Co. history is rooted in rarity (rarity is one of the conditions for beauty). It should reconsider celebrity faces and new storefronts and find its way back here first -- then determine its efforts and initiatives.



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