“We are seeing a new generation of consumers… that cares more than ever about the social and environmental impact of the purchase,” says Anisa Kamadoli Costa, Chief Sustainability Officer at Tiffany & Co. and Chairman of the Tiffany & Co Foundation. “It is only natural that in the case of luxury jewelry, people want to know where their most precious items have originated from.”
This was the message Costa put forth at a panel during the 3rd Annual SupChina Women’s Conference on May 21, where she highlighted her company’s commitment to sustainability. One aspect of this assurance is Tiffany’s Diamond Source Initiative: a diamond provenance policy launched in January of 2019 that seeks to satisfy the heightened demands for transparency and sustainability in luxury — factors that are increasingly important for the Chinese market.
“Now, you can walk into a store in Beijing or New York and we will be able to tell you the provenance of that diamond,” she explains. “Looking at the Chinese consumer, I remember 10 or 15 years ago people would make the assumption that the Chinese consumer didn’t care [about sustainability] and that is simply not the case anymore.”
In China, this shifting focus towards sustainability is being driven by both government policy and consumer demands. The 13thFive-Year Plan put forward by the People’s National Assembly of China highlighted the importance of growing domestic consumption sustainability, and a JD.com study in late 2018 noted a 71 percent increase in spending on green products in China.
“We are seeing the Chinese consumer cares more and more about the sustainability of the products they are purchasing, such as jewelry, and that is huge,” says Costa. “The Chinese consumer [power] has a huge part to play. They can decide to purchase something or [decide] to not purchase from a specific company. I am excited about what we are seeing in China.”
China’s dominant purchasing power in the luxury market is set to hit 65 percent of global consumption by 2025 according to McKinsey’s 2019 China Luxury Report, and when twinned with the environmental concerns of affluent consumers, this will make projections of sustainability from luxury brands increasingly important in the country.
Unlike many luxury brands, Tiffany & Co. enjoyed a strong 2018, reaching net sales of $4.4 billion (a company record) that was driven in part by its robust presence in the Asia-Pacific (including China) with total net sales increasing 13 percent to $1.2 billion.