Many of us tend to do a bit of this in various threads, so I thought it might be fun to build an entire thread around this idea.
The gist is this: what five-year plan would you put in place if you're the CEO of one of the watch brands or watch brand conglomerates to make them more successful? Obviously, this is speculative--we have limited access to statistics--but I think many of us have enough good sense to throw out some interesting ideas. (This recent article about the market share of the Swiss watch industry may be a helpful reference point.)
Of course, what appeals to watch collectors might not necessarily appeal to the market at large, and, for this thought experiment, we should be thinking about the latter, not the former. This is about longevity and viability, not necessarily about appealing to the interests of collectors and enthusiasts. So whatever ideas you have about brand authenticity or prestige need to be balanced against what might actually succeed in the market and ensure the financial success of the brand over the next five years.
I'll start with my proposals for one of the biggest fish in the sea, the Swatch Group. If you were to give me Hayek Jr.'s job, I'd seek to do the following:
- Design and gradually implement a vast "watches are for everyone" ad campaign.
- This campaign would celebrate the entire Swatch Group brand lineup as a collective, highlighting the history of Swiss watchmaking and its place in culture, from the history of Breguet to the Swatch watch to the Moon Watch to James Bond films, with a message that there's a watch for every person in every stage of their life. This ad campaign would be tailored largely to the North American market to help firm up American interest, but would have regional variations as well.
- This campaign would be paired with a touring Swatch Group version of Patek Phillippe's recent New York exhibition--celebrating timekeeping with a particular eye toward the legacy of Swatch Group brands--that would hit not just NYC, but cultural hotspots like San Francisco and Seattle.
- This campaign would serve as a gateway to help establish/reintroduce brands that aren't currently thriving, opening up well-located brand boutiques in cities that currently lack them.
- Work to clarify/focus brand personalities and product lines, attempting to minimize the great overlap between them.
- The Swatch will continue to focus its offerings around the Sistem51.
- The entry-level range (Certina, Hamilton, Mido, Tissot) would undergo a five-year overhaul to clarify branding, attempting to minimize some of the truly substantial overlap that exists here and into the mid-range.
- Tissot, the major performer here, will largely be restricted to the $500 and under segment, with a renewed focus on mechanical watches. A major attempt will be made to clarify the lineup around the sportier side of the Tissot aesthetic (and we may see some appropriate sporting tie-in pieces). The entry-level Swissmatic (the rebranded Sistem51) line will be expanded with a lot of promotion around mechanical watchmaking, tying in to SG-wide "a watch for everyone" campaign.
- Hamilton will receive newfound promotion as a competitor to Shinola, offering legitimate watchmaking credentials as one of the most historically valued "American" brands. As with Tissot, there will be a serious attempt to cleanup the lines offered by Hamilton, with emphasis on its history.
- Certina and Mido will be secondary contenders here, but they'll each move to focus on different parts of the ranges not particularly covered by Tissot and Hamilton. Certina will focus primarily, as its lineup does, on building excellent entry-level dive watches (the sports watches offered by Tissot and Hamilton will generally be 100M WR and under), while Mido will focus on the quality dress watch aesthetic (this will be aided by de-emphasizing the dress lines of the other brands).
- Longines and Rado are seemingly performing well in their markets and segments, though a push will be made to move both lines away from standard-issue quartz pieces (which overlap greatly with the entry-level brands) and promote their mechanical offerings.
- The upper range will be dramatically restructured. Blancpain, Breguet, Harry Winston, Glashütte Original, Omega, and Jaquet Droz all butt heads with one another.
- Omega will follow its current trajectory, largely occupying the market space just below Rolex. It will compete will Rolex through value, rather than through direct price-point battles, and will look to eclipse Tudor as the trendy, youthful luxury brand.
- Glashütte will move into the slot just above Omega, and will look toward the creation of a defining piece that will establish it as something other than a more affordable ALS.
- Blancpain will work to develop new, trendy pieces beyond its Fifty Fathoms and Villeret offerings. Blancpain will become the home of high-end Swatch Group R&D with materials, developing and premiering new technologies that will, over time, be shared with GO and Omega.
- Breguet will start to move past its sense of "legacy" and establish itself as an appropriate competitor to the more boutique watchmaking excellence of watchmakers F.P. Journe and Laurent Ferrier by establishing a connection with a living watchmaker of repute who can help shape the brand's future.
- Jaquet Droz is kind of a question mark. I'm not sure *where* or *to whom* the brand is directed at this point in time, so perhaps the task would be to truly figure out what place Jaquet Droz holds.