We all know the story of how De Beers pulled off one of the greatest PR/marketing campaigns of all time by mining the majority of the World’s diamonds, then creating a scarcity in the market and inflating the prices while simultaneously marketing their product as a necessity for newly weds and those wishing to express their love[1]. They basically put a shape, size and karat weight on love. Bastards.

 

Some possibly lesser known examples of the same principle I speak of can be seen in the ‘rule’ that’s burned into each of our heads… ‘8 glasses of water a day is necessary!’ – this despite many medical papers published to the contrary[2]. With many saying that drinking too much water may be the cause of some health issues – flushing the natural sodium from your body being one of these.

 

Another of these misnomers is that drinking milk is good for you – source of calcium that your body needs. Yet, today we find that science tells us drinking the breast milk of another animal is unnatural and unnecessary, its primary function is to feed the suckling young of that species before it is able to ingest solid foods, and to input natural antibacterial and immune boosting elements into that young. With other studies invoking the argument to the extent where if camels could go to the camel-mart and buy a ‘Gallon-o-Lion Milk’ they would, but because they have no option to they don’t.

 

My point with these 3 examples is neither a mining rights issue, a sodium based advocacy issue or a lactose based biology inquiry. What it is, is this: all of these examples are the result of great business synergy/strategy. Or so I’d like to believe. Let me explain…

 

At a time when mining was the single greatest source of economic wealth – I’m purposely excluding the slave trade – a mining consortium arose that would hold the monopoly on a very lucrative segment of the mining market. De Beers and diamonds.

 

What they did was genius – they applied the economic principal of supply and demand. The basis of this is that the exclusivity of a commodity/product is in direct correlation with its market value, determinant solely on the want for the product. I say want because there’s an economic distinction between want and need, and no one needs diamonds.

 

De Beers now sat with a problem, they had all these tonnes of diamonds but no one knew that they were supposed to lust after them. No one knew they were supposed to assign a value to them. Except De Beers.

 

De Beers had to create a want for these in the market place. Enter the engagement ring – where De Beers, not having started the tradition[3], marketed it in the way that we know today. ‘Diamonds are forever’ – ‘ A girl’s best friend’ – and the bane of my personal existence, an engagement ring should cost 3 months’ salary.

 

What De Beers had done was taken an otherwise inane and worthless product, found in abundance in the river basins of Africa, and created one of the most expensive consumer goods on the planet, by marketing the value of this useless carbon compression and using the economic principals to their advantage.

 

Listen up, lemon. Here’s some more.

 

The water thing. Ugh. This one is based more on a theory I have rather than any empirical data collects, collated and all the rest.

 

Before bottled water was a consumer good, was there any directive on how many glasses we should be drinking? This was around the time when we were being sold ‘healthier’ cigarettes because they are filtered. And smoking while pregnant was not a worry.

 

Are we labouring under the same incorrect assumption that there’s a set number of glasses that are the correct amount for all of us? Is this maybe because we were fed (with the same rusty shovel De Beers used) the same marketing spiel by an ingenious marketing associate at a water bottling plant?

 

I could make the same point for milk – but you get the idea.

 

Business and marketing go hand in hand. Where there are defined business requirements and sectoral presets, there is always room for marketing, design and social media Phenom’s to inject their flair and creativity in a way that sometimes changes the face of the sector forever.

 

Written by Ryan Campher

 

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/history-of-de-beers-2011-12

[2] http://time.com/4048173/water-drinking-tips/

[3] Archduke Maximillian of Austria was the first to commission an engagement ring for his bride to be Mary of Burgundy in 1477.