In a sharp divergence from global luxury market trends where the focus largely remains on millennials and Gen Z, the latest Platinum Guild International (PGI) Insight report reveals that with evolving cultural distinctions and changing demographics, Japan’s more mature, female population is leading the consumption of platinum and has also contributed to the sustained growth in the sector.
Japan has remained a key market for platinum for decades. Not only does the country have the highest per capita consumption for platinum jewellery in the world, but platinum itself is considered the go-to white metal in higher-end jewellery with an annual average growth rate of 2.4 percent in retail ounce sales from 2013 onwards.
“In the latest Insight report, we can see there is a shift in society, which is shaping consumer behaviour and having an impact on demands across consumers segments. This insight has led to crucial findings in how to adapt jewellery campaigns for continued growth,” says PGI Chief Executive Huw Daniel.
Starting from 2012, platinum has been taking market share from white gold. Japanese consumers are willing to pay a price premium for platinum jewellery over 18K gold, which stems from the continued perception that “high quality jewellery is platinum.” In 2018, 42.4 percent of platinum jewellery unit sales of 95 percent pure platinum were up from 27 percent in 2012, while white gold purity levels have declined, with the share of low purity (10k or below) almost doubling from 11.2 percent in 2012 to 20.4 percent in 2018.
The modest growth of Japan’s platinum jewellery sales in the past six years shows the continuous popularity of platinum jewellery among Japanese consumers, PGI said. Much of that growth is owed to Japan’s female population who have historically been drawn to platinum’s high purity, prestige and value.
“Platinum is in synergy with Japanese concepts of design — pure and authentic, precious with clarity. These traits are clear signifiers of why the precious metal continues to find particular success in Japanese cities and among consumers who are looking for meaning in their jewellery,” said PGI Japan President Hisako Hankinson.
Based on the latest platinum usage and attitude survey by PGI conducted in 2017, 49 percent of Japanese women in their 40s bought platinum jewellery for themselves, and that figure rose to 67 percent for women in their 50s and 60s. Thus despite the falling number of marriages and ageing population, platinum jewellery continues to be relevant to affluent, mature consumers with targeted collaborations.