Ouch. Fading bling sure does sting. In yet another indication of hard times, the Wall Street Journal reports that the age-old tradition of rap stars bedazzling themselves in diamonds and gold, reflecting status and a lifestyle of opulence and fabulousness, isn’t sparkling as bright as it used to. Word on the street is that a number of hip hop artists are opting for less precious stones and even imitation ice to go with their Cristal. [1]

Consumers aren’t completely following suit with bogus baubles. As WWD explains, the bright side is in spending for special occasions, such as Mother's Day, when a slight rise in sales pleasantly surprised retailers. [2] And like some of these recessionista rappers, American brides- and grooms-to-be are still keepin’ it real by downsizing their engagement bands to smaller carat diamonds, according to the National Jeweler. [3]

As we noted in this post a few weeks ago, marketers have been employing creative recessionary messaging to appeal to consumers keeping their minds on their money and their money on their minds. While the focus has been placed mostly on compassion-based communication to be aligned with money-saving trends, is it just all about saving the Benjamins?

In addition to messaging around coupons, discounts and lower price-point items, some marketers have been focusing on the long-term value of their products. 69% of US adults surveyed by Mediamark Research Inc. say that they buy based on quality, not price, and 74% would buy products by a company they trust, regardless of price. [4] And according to an April 2009 “Word of Mouth and Viral Marketing” report by Mintel, 55% of Internet users surveyed said that they recommend products or services based on quality. [5]

Here are a few examples of Retailers emphasizing high-quality artistry, durability and wearability, and the customer experience as attributes of investments that will stand the test of time.

The David Yurman and GUESS Watch search copy both look to the future and underscore that quality craftsmanship will make these investments last.

Like the GUESS example before it, this Tory Burch ad hones in on the value-trend that is, in fact, anti-trend. Its focus is on the classic, not the frivolous or cutting-edge, highlighting a collection of substance that will never go out of style.

This Tacori ad offers a unique premium buying experience and thoughtful customer service for the uneducated engagement ring shopper.

These are just some of the ways retailers are leading consumers to look at investment in their products as gifts of sentimental value--heirlooms, not just meaningless indulgences. How have you encouraged your customers to get their investment on?

[1] Bustillo, Miguel. The Wall Street Journal: "The Culture of Bling Clangs to Earth as the Recession Melts Rappers' Ice," May 26, 2009
[2] Graff, Michelle, The National Jeweler: "Even in tough economy, bridal still booming," April 22, 2009.
[3] Chabbot, Sophia. WWD: "Jewelers Adapt to New Priorities," June 9 2009.
[4] Mediamark Research Inc, Doublebase 2008.
[5] Mintel: "Word of Mouth and Viral Marketing" report, April 2009.
[6] David Yurman, Tory Burch, GUESS and Tacori Search Ads: Google.com.