By Brecken Branstrator
According to De Beers, 90 percent of respondents in a recent survey said they will look for holiday gifts that are meaningful and will hold their value over time, like diamond jewelry.
London—The COVID-19 pandemic has consumers in the United States reassessing how they spend their money.

To better understand their perspectives and behaviors during both the lockdown and the initial reopening, De Beers has been conducting additional research.

In March, the diamond miner and marketer launched a weekly quantitative survey to collect data, and also began doing a once-a-month “deep dive” into consumer attitudes about diamonds.

“The COVID-19 crisis and associated lockdowns have caused people all around the world to re-evaluate aspects of what’s important in their lives and have reinforced the value of personal relationships,” De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver said.

“While consumer confidence and spending has been significantly impacted in the U.S., this research highlights that diamonds will nonetheless have a unique role to play in people’s lives in a post-lockdown world as they seek to celebrate their most meaningful relationships.”

Though there’s much discussion about consumer behavior post-COVID-19, it’s worth nothing that several areas of the country remain under lockdown and it’s possible stay-at-home orders could be reinstated in others.

Still, here are a few consumer insights De Beers has gleaned from its research for now.

1. Consumers want to continue feeling connected.

Many consumers indicated the quarantine has had some positive effects on their lives—spending more time with family and less time commuting, leaving them feeling grateful for things they used to take for granted.

This feeling of connectedness has extended to their jewelry.

For those polled who already owned diamond jewelry, the majority said they continue to wear it while sheltering in place, mostly because they are used to never taking it off and because it makes them feel connected to someone.

2. They will look for “meaningful” gifts this holiday season.

As consumers look ahead to the holiday season, 56 percent of survey-takers indicated gifts should be meaningful above all, beating out the other three options: practical, functional and fun.

Ninety percent of respondents said choosing presents that hold their value over time also would be an important aspect of gift-buying this holiday season.

When it comes to gifts of this nature, more people chose diamonds as their top choice, beating out other luxury items like designer clothing and accessories, electronics, furniture or other jewelry.

According to the research, three out of four consumers said the crisis hasn’t had an impact on their likelihood to buy diamond jewelry.

3. They will buy less but spend more on what they do buy.

Two-thirds of consumers polled said their personal finances hadn’t been affected by the crisis and 75 percent said they’re optimistic about their financial situations in the next three years.

Interestingly, 45 percent of those surveyed said they were likely to buy fewer things but invest more in the items they do purchase or, as De Beers put it, “fewer, better things,” a phrase also used in a marketing campaign the company launched in 2008 at the start of the recession.

4. They will turn to independent jewelers for physical shopping.

De Beers’ research showed consumers feel safest when they shop online.

Still, they do think of their local independent jeweler as their best resource for knowledge and quality, and consider local retailers the safest of all brick-and-mortar shopping options.

Also of note from the research is that consumer preference for travel is still declining, with 39 percent of those polled saying it would be seven to 12 months before their spending on travel returns to normal.

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