HONG KONG & CHINA - In an effort to differentiate its diamonds, Chow Tai Fook is launching a campaign titled 'To tell the truth', alongside a tech-heavy retail experience that asks consumer to learn about the sourcing of diamonds in addition to the traditional 'four Cs'.
Chow Tai Fook claims to have developed a patented technology that allows it to emblazon each diamond with a 'T mark'—a serial number unique to each shiny piece of crystallised carbon. The 'T mark' builds trust, according to the brand, by enabling the traceability of the stone from its source through processing, cutting, polishing, authentication and design.
Chow Tai Fook and its branding and creative agency, Twohundred, claim the technology produces the smallest mark in the industry—so small that another piece of patented technology, a 150X microscope, is required to see it:
The brand hails the technology-enabled tracking as the "pioneering of a new trade standard", the "four Ts": for traceable, transparent, truthful and thoughtful.
Alan Chan, director of group branding department at Chow Tai Fook, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that other brands "have had the idea of setting a standard related to the journey of diamonds for some time, but we are the only ones commanding the resources and production scale to do so."
Campaign visited an "experience zone" in one of the brand's stores in Hong Kong, which Cyrus Cheng, brand manager in the group branding department, described as "the area where we try to engage with customers by explaining the concept of 4T and, using interactive platforms, take them along their favoured diamond's historical journey."
In this space, the brand provides a detailed explanation of the 4T concept, aided by holographic representations. The talk covers how the 'T mark' tracks the entire process of diamond making, how the information is open to the public and hence transparent and trustworthy, and how the usual 4C information is authenticated by GIA.
Next, at an interactive table, the shopper is asked to input personal particulars and choose a favourite number. A computer then selects five diamonds that suit that person, "according to Greek numerology". Only diamonds of very high quality (according to the four Cs) are presented. After selecting one of the diamonds, the shopper receives a personalised card denoting the stone's T-mark:
Next comes a stage-by-stage "journey tracking":
In addition to the retail space, the interactive experience comes in smartphone-app form, available on Apple and Google Play. The app stores the history of the diamond and its GIA certificate, as well as allowing buyers to input key dates to document their memories.
The experience zone only exists in a select number of stores at the moment, but the brand plans to expand it across its market, including China.
Campaign Asia-Pacific comments: The 4T concept is a strong attempt to move the discussion of diamond quality beyond the four Cs and onto other aspects that would allow Chow Tai Fook to premiumise its gems.
With more people taking an interest in ethical sourcing, the detailed information and the interactive nature of the journey could be effective in creating customer engagement and establishing trust. Discerning and experienced buyers could find information about where the gem is sourced, as well as the companies responsible for the processing and design, helpful in evaluating diamonds and making decisions. It will be interesting to see whether the experience makes people willing to pay whatever premium the brand may be adding to the price.
That said, we felt the 15-minute walkthrough was too much: The details could bore a knowledgeable buyer, while the flowery language could be a turnoff to some. Likewise, the selection of diamonds according to 'numerology', while it might appeal to some, might appear silly to others.
(A representative of Twohundred reached out to Campaign after this story was published to state that our reporter received a longer explanation than a typical customer would receive, and that store staff tailor the experience to the needs of individual customers. -Ed.)
In addition, for all the money being spent on this effort, we were surprised to find the website riddled with grammatically peculiar statements such as this:
We were also not sure how unexpected comparisons to handwriting, snowflakes, and vinyl records connected with the T mark idea.
Brand custodian, strategy and creative-in-charge: Twohundred Limited
Strategy and creative: Derek Wong, Christine Pong
Art director: Kwan Chan
Account team: Eric Leung, Leanne Lee
Digital affiliate: Noiseless Design
Graphic design affiliate: Sandy Choi & Associates
Retail design affiliate: Kiloliter design