The following article is a takeover prepared by the students of the class « Sustainable Luxury » (part of the master « New Luxury & Art de Vivre » at Sciences Po, Paris / France) taught by UrbanMeister founder Mirela Orlovic. The students were asked to « Be a consultant for a week”: Inspired by circular economy, pick a luxury brand of your choice and develop a circular marketing recommendation.

Today our lives are rythmed by the “make, use and dispose” pattern of the linear production model. We extract resources from the ground to make products, which we use, and, when we no longer want them, throw them away. Contrariwise, a circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.

From consumers to users

In the circular economy, waste is a design flaw. Companies do not just recycle products, but maintain ownership of them all along their life cycle, according to a “make, use and return” model. This model challenges the typical notion of ownership and places all companies in a position of “service provider” rather than that of “makers” of a product.

The circular economy model invite us to deeply challenge our perception of reality and ask ourselves “what could be ?” instead of “what is ?”. By adopting this new worldview, waste is not longer an “unwanted matter or material of any type” but a valuable commodity.

Moving from a linear economy to a circular economy would entail important costs, as companies would need to redesign their supply chains and products. However, a shift toward a circular economy could bring an incredible economic boost. As a 2015 European central bank report estimates that this shift could increase GDP by an additional 12 percentage points by 2050 in the EU. Therefore, we present below circular marketing practices and services innovation that Pomellato could implement to foster its environmental community.

The heritage

Pomellato is an Italian brand created in 1967 by Pino Rabolini who brought prêt-à-porter philosophy to the conservative jewelry world. The company is part of the Kering group since 2013 and today the 5th European jeweler. Pomellato has a strong and distinctive identity representing italian craftsmanship, goldsmith savoir-faire and tradition mixed with colorful, unconventional jewels made of distinctive designs.

Sustainability has found its path into Pomellato’s collections, values and campaigns. The company has already taken steps to promote a more ethical production process. In fact, 100% of its gold comes from ethical sourcing. Pomellato is constantly working on finding sustainable silver sources alongside with transparent and traceable sources for their diamonds and colored stones.

Pomellato’s sustainable commitment

Each year, Pomellato monitors and evaluates its environmental impact in the Environmental profit & loss account published by the Kering group. Moreover, the brand has obtained both the Responsible jewelry council certification and the label “Fairminded”. This label certifies that Pomellato gold comes from empowered responsible artisanal and small scale mining organizations.

Global climate-related challenges are becoming unavoidable topics for all organisations to discuss. However, Pomellato central competitors in the high jewelry industry, such as Cartier, or Boucheron, do not communicate a lot on their sustainable practices.

One notable exception and possible source of inspiration for Pomellato, is the french high jewelry house Courbet, founded by Emmanuel Mallen. The brand has made sustainability the center of its DNA. Courbet uses exclusively lab-grown diamonds and recycled gold and has developed partnership programs with twelve NGOs which receive a part of its benefice.

We could of course also be inspired by Tiffany & Co. Indeed, the brand has adopted the blockchain for its diamonds tracking. Tiffany is one of many companies working with the Kimberley process, established by the United Nations, this process impose extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipment of rough diamonds are conflict free. This is a guarantee offered by jewelers against “blood diamonds”. Yet illegal diamonds still tend to flood the market. Conflict diamonds are still a prevalent and pressing problem, Tiffany has turned to blockchain technology to ensure their customers are receiving the highest-quality diamonds that are also sourced ethically.

Toward an ethical supply chain

Pomellato’s diamonds are extracted in accordance with the Kimberley process however this process, leaves aside human rights abuses, violence, poverty and environmental degradation linked to the extraction of diamonds. Smaller structures have developped innovative ways to favorize gold recycling over mining:

The parisian jewelry shop “Or du monde” gives the possibility for consumers to bring their old gold and benefit from reductions on new pieces. The shop works exclusively with mines which do not participate in the financing of conflicts but in the economic development of the populations concerned.

Difference between regular certified Kimberley diamonds and Or du monde diamonds

Join Pomellato’s circle

In the jewelry industry, mining and extracting operations produce the largest waste streams. Indeed, gold and stones extraction have a considerable impact on the environment. Mining destroys landscapes and creates huge amounts of toxic waste. Due to the use of dirty practices such as open pit mining and cyanide heap leaching. To reduce Pomellato’s demand for mining, the brand should rely on:

  • Switching to recycled silver and gold,
  • Virtual reality and
  • A new service: Inside Pomellato’s Circle

The use of virtual reality would allow Pomellato to decrease its inventories as clients would be able to try on the jewels before buying them and would receive them later on.

Inside Pomellato’s circle is a service of “jewelry remodeling” which would allow Pomellato to increase customer loyalty while decreasing waste. The brand could collect pre-loved Pomellato jewels and work with clients on sur-mesure creations. Implementing Inside Pomellato’s Circle would allow the brand to curate a personalized experience, which according to Bain consulting, is highly sought after by 45% of luxury clients. Therefore, these services would help Pomellato to establish a united, ethically concerned, and environmentally friendly community.

Inside Pomellato’s Circle would be a groundbreaking innovation in the sector of high jewelry

However, to implement this new service the company will have to tackle a central issue: the service might take a long time to become cost effective. Indeed, Pomellato will have to innovate to propose jewels designed from recycled gold on par with the maison’s quality standards. To limit the impact of this issue we advise Pomellato to propose the service as a complement rather than an alternative to its production system in the short term. A transition will require a substantial expansion of the knowledge base.

Circular marketing

Circular marketing will push marketers to think beyond immediate customer satisfaction and business performance toward sustainable strategies that preserve the world for future generations. Pomellato’s consumers are environmentally conscious and very active on social media. Therefore, to launch Inside Pomellato’s Circle, the brand could organize a an online contest in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, pioneer on circular economy, where the prize would be a magical visit in Pomellato ateliers. Indeed, in jewelry consumer’s understanding of the supply chain is not always precise.

Therefore, Pomellato’s communication campaign should not only put forward rational argument on the benefits of circular economy but also a genuinely emotional connection these benefits that can be delivered, by bringing clients closer to local communities harmed by poor waste treatment or to the jewelry makers who will “re-vamp” their jewels,

To launch Inside Pomellato’s Circle the brand could work with Breath architecture, an Australian architectural firm to develop an entirely sustainable pop up store during a un Sustainable Development Summit thus establishing Pomellato as the International leader in circular high jewelry.

Finally, providing transparent information, in store and online, on Pomellato’s products durability and reparability can significantly increase the prospects that customers will choose Pomellato as a more durable alternative.

The challenges of circular economy

The switch from linear to circular production model will take time and Pomellato will have to deploy resources to impulse its customers change of attitude, from a consumer to a user mindset. With appropriate marketing campaigns Pomellato’s consumers would be convinced that by going circular the brand will offer them more durable and innovative products and save them money in the long term. For the company moving towards a more circular economy will reduce pressure on the environment, improve the security of the supply of raw materials, increase competitiveness and stimulate innovation. Thus proving that it is only waste because we waste the opportunity to turn it into something valuable.

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