Marketing in the Swiss Watch Industry | East Shores Agency

There is something to be said about the Swiss watchmaking mindset, an endless pursuit of perfection and an obsession with conquering time. Ever since I was a small child, peering into the display cases of my parent’s jewelry store, I have been surrounded by these notions and perhaps affected me with my approach to learning musical instruments or studying for exams; and now, consequentially with my professional career. As a result, I believe there are several concepts that can be applied to all business industries.

As I mentioned before, if there is one thing that is synonymous with the luxury industry, it is attention to detail. After working with Jaeger-LeCoultre and Breitling, you quickly see and are forced to adapt to an attention to detail that is simply unparalleled to anywhere else. The amount of effort placed in making sure the final product is perfect, is remarkable. From the color of the chairs to intricacies within the dial of a watch, the beauty is in the detail.

While, this level of obsessive detail may not be necessary for your marketing strategy, it is critical that you take measures to implement quality control on all marketing strategies. Simple actions such as making sure your “Name, Address, Phone (NAP)” is correct and spelled the same across all platforms (including posts and citations) can help boost your overall S.E.O. ranking. With social media and the lack of handwriting and reading plaguing young adults today, spelling is more critical than ever. Routine errors can harm the professionalism and integrity of your business. By establishing some methodology of content approval, attention to detail can go great lengths to ensure the success of your brands digital marketing and advertising strategy as well transpire to other aspects within your business.

Branding in this industry is fascinating and you can spend an entire lifetime figuring out the various motives and triggers that compel people to purchase luxury goods. Is it exclusivity? Country of origin? Craftsmanship? Stellar marketing? Likely all of the above and then some. However, developing a brand and sticking to it is the key to carving out your niche and differentiating yourselves. Breitling, “The Authentic Partner of Aviation”, is almost unapologetic when it comes to their branding yet they stay true to their “instruments for professionals” mantra, for better or for worse. In my opinion, it is respectable. However, there are much deeper and more applicable reasons that you should focus on creating a brand in the mind of your consumers than earning my “props”. If you remember way back to your one intro to psychology class, you may have learned about brand “mind-maps” and competitive brand position maps such as this one:

These tools allow you to better understand your consumer’s perception of your brand as well as your competitive landscape. Understanding these branding concepts can allow you to exploit or implement changes to alter your brand’s perception. In addition, from a search standpoint, these tools can unveil keyword targeting and content ideas that you can take advantage of. In fact, Google has altered their algorithm a few years back which places a heavier emphasis on brands and thematic and semantic content within a business’ digital presence. For more information on this, Moz has an incredible how-to tool build optimized brands for Google.

If these is one thing that truly bothered me about the Swiss watch industry, it is their general unwillingness to adapt. This industry, is not like it used to be. Although, there is evidence that points to watches being more popular than ever, the Swiss luxury industry is struggling. More people rely on cellphones and smartwatches. In fact, back in 2013, Pew Research Group published a report detailing that “cell phone ownership hits 91% (among American adults)”. Couple this, along with the Great Recession, a deflated Chinese economy and more affluent consumers simply spending less on jewelry, the luxury watch industry needs to rapidly adjust and reevaluate their position. With an estimated $200 billion dollars in annual spending power and representing roughly a quarter of the American population, consumers between the ages of 17-34 are beginning to enter these brands’ target markets (Forbes). However, they - myself included - do not consume media and advertising the same way as previous generations. Now I am not saying to completely axe out all forms of traditional advertising, but there are countless incredible digital marketing tools aimed at delivering highly tailored ads and rich insights unlike ever before. The Swiss watch industry, has had a difficult time coping with this incredible pace of advertising change by being cumbered by traditionalism (despite being founded on creating revolutionary innovations). I believe that the phrase, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, should be wiped from everyone’s vocabulary. As I mentioned in a previous article, business’ now, more than ever, must focus on creating and nurturing communities surrounding their entire business (horizontally, vertically, locally and worldly). Being able to really understand what the customer is looking for, how they are looking for and why they are looking for the product or service is crucial. Then being able to deliver a timely, high quality at a fair cost is what will drive loyalty. With the rise of e-Commerce and the increasing pace of globalization, it is now more about the customer than ever before.

So, to briefly recap several lessons learned from my experience within the Swiss watch industry: The beauty of a marketing strategy is in the details, build a holistic brand, and embrace innovation (as daunting as that may be). As always, I would love to hear your thoughts. If you have any questions or would like to find out more on how East Shores Agency can build your digital presence, please feel free to reach out to us!