Millennials spent more than US$25 billion on diamond jewellery in 2015 in the four largest consumer markets, acquiring more than any other generation, according to The Diamond Insight Report 2016, published this week by The De Beers Group of Companies.
Despite Millennials (those aged 15-34 in 2015) facing more financial challenges than their parents’ generation, they already account for almost half of the total retail value of new diamond jewellery acquired in the four largest markets – the US, China, Japan and India.
In the top four markets, which account for 73 per cent of global diamond jewellery demand, the potential Millennial market for diamond jewellery is more than 220 million people. Meanwhile, the Millennial generation is not expected to reach its most affluent life stage for another 10 years, meaning this demographic also represents the diamond sector’s largest growth opportunity.
Millennial consumers also display particular purchasing trends. For example, self-purchasing of diamond jewellery is an important and growing acquisition route among Millennials, with this generation’s self-purchases in the US representing 31 per cent of all non-bridal diamond jewellery pieces acquired in 2015. Given the differences from previous generations’ buying behaviours, the diamond industry will need to adopt effective strategies for maintaining and growing demand from the Millennial consumer group.
Alongside suggesting ways in which the industry could capitalise on the opportunity with the Millennial generation, the report also found that:
Despite lower rough diamond demand in 2015, consumer diamond jewellery demand remained robust at US$79 billion, driven by five per cent growth in the US.
China, the second largest market, also saw growth, albeit at a lower rate (three per cent in local currency). In India, consumer demand slowed as a result of a more restricted consumer credit environment and overall weakness in consumer spending.
Consumer demand growth will continue to be generated from the US and Asia, particularly China and India, driven by increasing household income over the next 10 years.
Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group, said: “Millennials are already expressing very strong demand for diamond jewellery in the major consumer markets, acquiring more than any other generation.
“Most encouragingly, however, Millennials are still 10 years away from their most affluent life stage and the generation comprises more than 220 million potential diamond consumers in the four main markets. The diamond industry therefore has a major opportunity on the horizon but it will only capitalise on it fully if it continues to innovate and invest across the value chain.”
Cleaver says 2014 was a record year for consumer diamond jewellery demand and also a strong year for rough diamond demand. 2015, however, saw a more contrasting performance. While consumer diamond demand remained reasonably strong, rough diamond demand fell.
“With the first half of 2016 showing signs of more stable conditions returning, it is clear that volatility in the diamond sector is not a short-term phenomenon, but the new normal.
The sector has shown itself consistently to be resilient – in the face of financial crises, fluctuating demand and increased competition from other luxury categories.
But the pace of change is quickening and, as a sector, we cannot look to the past for solutions to tomorrow’s challenges. As our research with Millennials shows, tomorrow’s consumers are not the same as yesterday’s. However, they do share many of the same views as older generations. It is perhaps because of this that diamonds are high on their wish list.”
Cleaver added: Indeed, they spent nearly US$26 billion on diamond jewellery in the four main markets last year, acquiring more than any other generation. And, perhaps most encouragingly, Millennials are still 10 years away from their most affluent life stage, presenting a significant opportunity for the sector to capitalise fully on a generation comprising more than 220 million potential diamond consumers in the four main markets.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”