Why consumers happily pay three times the price just for the little blue box

If you think about brand recognition via colour associations, no company has done it quite as well as Tiffany & Co. That unique blue is synonymous with the luxury and globally-leading jewellery brand that Audrey Hepburn once made all the more glamourous and enticing by gracing a film with its name.

But the blue has come to symbolise more than just one of the most expensive jewellers in the category, but also milestones of success in the lives of consumers. From the iconic key for the 21st to the sparkling diamond for the big moment, Tiffany’s has embedded itself in the hearts of consumers as a means of celebrating the best of times – as long as they’re willing to pay the price. But how did they do it?

Headquartered in New York City,  the product quality is certainly admirable, but many people doubt whether the items deserve the exorbitant prices that are assigned to them. And the truth is, it’s not the quality of the product but the brand itself that consumers pay for.

People are willing to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars more for a Tiffany’s product than they would for an equivalent silver product without a Tiffany’s logo. So, how did they earn such a powerful advantage? It all began at the beginning.

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S 1961 Paramount with Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn captured our hearts in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961 – another wonderful example of how the brand has become associated with glamour and iconic, timeless style.

1. Tiffany’s adapted with the times and responded to consumer demands

Charles Lewis Tiffany founded Tiffany’s in 1837. The company’s initial branding was “stationery and fancy goods emporium.” The company iterated and changed their branding when they discovered that their market niche was jewellery, not stationery. At this time, in 1853, the company changed their name to “Tiffany & Company.

They recognised the opportunities were greater if they focused on jewellery and they made that their specialty. The looked at their value proposition, and were able to accurately interpret their unique value to customers. So work began on establishing themselves as the best jeweller in the world.

2. They backed their own marketing mix, rather than copying others

Back in the 1830s, prices were rarely a fixed thing. Many stores and vendors were open to bargaining with customers, and price was generally negotiable. Tiffany’s didn’t follow this trend. They recognised that demanding a fixed price would elevate their product to elite status and enable their brand to stand out.

Tiffany’s decided to blaze its own trail. In the 1830s, it clearly displayed the prices of items. Without haggling or bargaining options for buyers. Consumers were to pay what was requested for the privilege of owning the product. This shouted the value and quality of the product and word began to spread. That’s really all it took. Their uncompromising confidence in their product established its enormous value and undeniable quality.

It wasn’t long before Tiffany’s began to attract the wealthiest customers in the city who wanted to buy the fanciest jewels to cement their status.

3. They partnered strategically with others

In 1862, Tiffany’s was a crucial supplier to the Union Army. They supplied them with flags, surgical implements, and swords. This was an excellent marketing tactic for Tiffany’s, which was still establishing their brand as reliable at the time. When consumers knew the government trusted the brand, this helped to secure its status as a dependable product, which helped to grow the brand’s solid reputation and attract more customers than ever before.

Later on, Tiffany’s decided it was time to expand their brand across the globe. In 1867, Tiffany’s won an award for Excellence in Silverware at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. In doing so, it was the first US firm to ever win an award of such a nature overseas. This established Tiffany’s as having a clear global presence, and furthered brand’s prestigious reputation.

In 1877, the New York Yankees took a Tiffany-created logo and made it their own. Tiffany’s has demonstrated, time and time again, the value of providing physical and creative value to trusted brands as a mean of establishing their own worth. By helping out the military, a famous sporting team, and even the police – Tiffany’s made it known that they were a trusted and respected vendor.

It’s all these partnering decisions that have since seen Tiffany & Co. featured in pop-culture cinema, television and more over the decades.

4. They made themselves a part of the greatest moments of life 

So, all these decisions made Tiffany’s the jeweller of choice for those with enough disposable income. But to capture a larger audience and generate further demand, Tiffany & Co. has leveraged cleverly targeted advertising campaigns to place its brand at the core of every milestone of human accomplishment that consumers cherish.

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