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Tiffany & co.'s robin's egg blue box has been the signature of the carriage trade since the retailer's first store opened in 1837.

But as times changed, the competition grew. Tiffany's challenge: to maintain the brand's blue-blood cachet, while con-vincing those who aspired to the Tiffany brand that the store has gifts in all price categories.

Michael Kowalski, president-chief operating officer, along with Diana Lyne, former senior VP-marketing, and her successor Jeanne Daniel, exec VP, who oversaw merchandising, developed a marketing program that expanded the store's customer ranks.

To market Tiffany as both inclusive and exclusive, the retailer leveraged its position of authority. Tiffany created a marketing program for pearls and engagement rings that included an education element, such as a "how to buy a diamond" video and brochure. The company also developed a new target: women who buy jewelry for themselves.

"Our message is accessibility to a broader group of customers, while we maintain the mystique and quality people associate with Tiffany," says Mr. Kowalski, 45.

Last year, Tiffany tested its first TV effort-holiday spots in New York-from McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York. The spots, with the line, "To the vows we make," celebrate important occasions such as weddings.

"We still think Tiffany is a relative well-kept secret," says Mr. Kowalski, even though the company's U.S. sales grew 9% in 1996. With 23 stores, Tiffany is approaching annual sales of close to $1 billion.

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