Many Consumers Unfamiliar with <I>Blood Diamond</i> Movie

July 21, 2006

Many Consumers Unfamiliar with Blood Diamond Movie

Despite building anxiety within the U.S. diamond and jewelry industry, a recent survey indicates many consumers are unfamiliar with the upcoming blockbuster movie The Blood Diamond, which many industry members worry will negatively impact consumer opinion.

The Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council (JCOC) surveyed its 2,838 consumer panelists and found 82% of respondents were completely unaware of the movie, which is currently in production and scheduled for release sometime in 2007. Of the small percentage who had heard of the movie, 46% said they are likely to see it when it is released, while 25% said they are undecided.

The movie, which is directed by Edward Zwick and will star Leonard DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly, is set in 1990s Sierra Leone during the bloody civil war there and features diamonds' role in funding the conflict. Industry members worry that the movie neglects to inform viewers that warring factions have since made peace in Sierra Leone and that diamonds exported from the region are now "conflict-free," and that many consumers may boycott diamond purchases in reaction to the film.

Industry members are making preparations to educate consumers about the Kimberley Process and other efforts to stamp out conflict diamonds, and have lobbied the filmmaker to include a disclaimer at the end of the movie updating viewers on the current situation in Sierra Leone.

Despite the fact that consumers currently are unaware of the movie, that awareness will certainly increase as the movie studio begins to release previews and ads. "As awareness levels rise, coupled with the potential negative publicity facing the industry in the upcoming months, there could be a shift towards stronger consumer sentiment," says Elizabeth Chatelain, president of MVI Marketing Ltd. of Paso Robles, Calif., founder of the JCOC, in a release. "The industry must be prepared for consumers to begin demanding greater accountability for fine jewelry purchases. More consumers, especially younger adults, are considering a company's citizenship practices as a driver for purchasing a product."

Chatelain suggests that retail jewelers stay aware of public opinion surrounding the film and take early measures to educate their customers about conflict diamonds and the industry's efforts. "Jewelers who take a proactive approach advertise their efforts to advocate responsible practices in the jewelry supply chain will be at a distinct advantage," she says.

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