The watch is no longer a functional product worn to just tell the time. As Millennials all around the world consider a watch a lifestyle statement, work to reflect their personality and represent their style, watch manufactures are taking note, innovating and building futuristic products to suit new age requirements. The industry – which is made up of established brands around the world – has grown in leaps and bounds, becoming a fashion and lifestyle entity. It is today led by legendary Swiss watchmakers known for designing and manufacturing iconic timepieces over the years.
The industry is now divided into two parts – the luxury watch segment which keeps the rich captivated with its intricate designs and masterful craftsmanship, and an all-new segment which caters to the growing breed of adventure seekers with products, with smart, sturdy products that can do a lot more than just tell time.
COVID-19 Effect on the Industry
Over the last two months, the world economy has taken a hit due to a pandemic which has literally brought the wheels of economy to a standstill. Needless to say, the watch industry too, incurred huge losses as COVID-19 directly impacted both manufacturing and sales, much like it did to most sectors and industries. World-renowned exhibitions such as Basel World, Watches & Wonders, which bring leading watch manufacturers from around the world on one platform where they showcase latest designs, had to be cancelled or rescheduled to a future date. The manufacturers, distributors, retailers who are regulars at these exhibitions are considered the final word in the world of watches.
The pandemic has changed how we live and will do business in the future, which will lay a strong foundation in times to come. While retail sales have been nothing short of a nightmare, the industry is finding newer ways to connect with the target audience, newer platforms that will give the industry what it requires to look beyond COVID-19. Many brands are already engaging their audience and potential customer base on various online and social media platforms, which has, to some extent, helped them gain lost ground while building a new channel to reach out to customers. These newfound avenues will become the tools of tomorrow for not just customer engagement and sales but will create a whole new space on which brands could build their product portfolio, execute large scale campaigns and much more.
Switching to Digital Platforms
Luminox, for one, is keeping its followers on Instagram in the loop for their latest product launches and special offers on a certain range of collections. Not just that, the company is interacting with the customers on the brand’s social media platform through its brand ambassadors Bear Grylls and Ashish Rao Rane (champion off-road rally racer from India). They are engaging with them through posts carrying video messages and images in times of lockdown, motivating, and cheering up followers, sending forth messages of strength and resilience. Much like Luminox, a lot of leading domestic and international brands have also been keeping their followers informed of latest developments on social media, which has opened a window of opportunities for the exchange ideas and thoughts between the brand and its followers/ target audience.
Quite a few brands including Luminox are present on various social media platforms, but Instagram is the most preferred social media platform and brands are now leveraging it to establish a much stronger and transparent communication channel with the followers. Many watch brands are running social media campaigns on their respective Instagram handles by engaging their followers. These campaigns can range from asking followers to post pictures of themselves with their watches to promoting a fit & healthy lifestyle to even asking trivia questions and creating innovative campaigns around the lockdown period. These fun campaigns and activities keep followers hooked to their favourite brands and even bring them much closer to the brands. Audiences of all age groups and genders can be reached out to via such channels.
Reinventing Physical Retail in an Online Way
With the tourism and travel industry likely to stay down over the next few months, brands and retailers have settled to focus on local markets to stimulate sales. With the social media presence of these brands is taken care of, brands – both in India and globally – are now working towards realigning their physical businesses locally. Retailers are taking orders on online stores and delivering to select locations. Some have even launched their own websites to announce new products. Leading watch boutiques such as Helios by Titan, Ethos among others have exclusive partnerships with watch brands, which are active on their social media handles as well and are promoting the brands. These arrangements are mutually beneficial for the brands and the boutique stores; the brand gets a nationwide presence, while the stores are able to retain higher margins. Luminox watches can be ordered from www.swisswatchcompany.in.
Switching to digital platforms and making their presence stronger will prove to be a winner idea for brands in times like this. For instance, the organizers of the Watches & Wonders fair repurposed their event online with public accessibility and designed a website that featured details of releases from 17 exhibiting brands. Such was the success of the online event that in the first four days, it had 44,000 unique visitors from 169 countries.
While social distancing is the new normal now, many brands are concentrating their sales efforts on e-commerce platforms as they foresee potential in digital sales.