retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

It is a mark of how retailers and brands have to expand their traditional parameters that Tiffany, the luxury jewelry brand, has released its first print ad featuring a same-sex couple and focusing on engagement rings. It is one of a series of ads being run by Tiffany that is going beyond traditional definitions of marriage and relationships.

Linda Buckley, a spokesman for the chain, told one newspaper that "nowadays, the road to marriage is no longer linear and true love can happen more than once with love stories coming in a variety of forms. The Tiffany engagement ring is the first sentence of the story that a couple will write together as they create a life that is deeply intimate and exceptional, which is the message we hope to convey through this campaign."

Tiffany is hardly the only company to adapt its marketing efforts to new cultural norms. But it is important to note that the company has been experiencing stagnant sales of late, and so reaching out to a community that it ignored in the last simply makes economic sense; it is a bonus if the company gets noticed for adapting to new political and/or cultural realities at the same time.

Here's a basic reality: there are 36 states, as well as the District of Columbia, that allow same-sex marriage, and more than two-thirds of Americans live in places that do so. There also are some 17 nations that allow same-sex marriage. The number is only going to grow.

This is a good and Eye-Opening lesson for all marketers. As the world changes - and does so faster and faster - this creates some challenges but greater opportunities. Because however one might define people in terms of gender, sexuality, or other distinguishing characteristics, they all have one thing in common.

They are existing or potential customers.

So sell them stuff.

KC's View: