Grand Seiko Brand Strategy
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  1. #1
    Member ahonobaka's Avatar
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    Grand Seiko Brand Strategy

    Have been meaning to create a brand strategy and marketing thread, and this new article on Hodinkee is a perfect excuse:

    https://www.hodinkee.com/articles/gr...-move-upmarket

    Quite worth the read though admittedly I still find it confusing for GS to be peddling "upmarket" tier watches like Presage and Prospex. 2019 Basel promises to be very much interesting indeed...

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    Re: Grand Seiko Brand Strategy

    I'm a little bummed that the price range is moving upwards, but excited to see their new technology they are teasing. I am hoping for thinner movements!

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    Re: Grand Seiko Brand Strategy

    Quote Originally Posted by ahonobaka View Post
    Have been meaning to create a brand strategy and marketing thread, and this new article on Hodinkee is a perfect excuse:

    https://www.hodinkee.com/articles/gr...-move-upmarket

    Quite worth the read though admittedly I still find it confusing for GS to be peddling "upmarket" tier watches like Presage and Prospex. 2019 Basel promises to be very much interesting indeed...
    Fascinating read...really curious what will come next for GS. I'm a huge fan of the brand, having owned two thus far.

    As for the Presage and Prospex lines, I'm assuming they'll be using them as a sort of bridge to get people into the GS boutiques.

    As a core Seiko offering, if you gave the Presage and Prospex lines a try and learned that you wanted something a little more luxurious, there wasn't too much else to explore and look at, since those lines are essentially as high as core Seiko goes.

    As a Grand Seiko offering, however, there's now an entire world of luxury watches to explore.
    Last edited by BigMoufPosy; December 19th, 2018 at 19:48.
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    Re: Grand Seiko Brand Strategy

    I thought it was an interesting read, but I am curious about:

    A) How are they going to shake the association Americans have with SEIKO and inexpensive watches. I personally think they would've done better to re-brand Grand Seiko as something else, since Americans are already accustomed to the idea of Japanese car manufacturers having a separate luxury marque which - to the casual observer - could be mistaken for an unrelated company. I can see it now, "What? You mean to tell me that Zaratsu watches are owned by SEIKO? I had no idea!"

    B) What Swiss brands they believe to be vulnerable and can take share away from. I mean, who does Grand Seiko see as their prime competitor? I would not have thought Omega.


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    Re: Grand Seiko Brand Strategy

    Quote Originally Posted by Alysandir View Post
    I thought it was an interesting read, but I am curious about:

    A) How are they going to shake the association Americans have with SEIKO and inexpensive watches. I personally think they would've done better to re-brand Grand Seiko as something else, since Americans are already accustomed to the idea of Japanese car manufacturers having a separate luxury marque which - to the casual observer - could be mistaken for an unrelated company. I can see it now, "What? You mean to tell me that Zaratsu watches are owned by SEIKO? I had no idea!"

    B) What Swiss brands they believe to be vulnerable and can take share away from. I mean, who does Grand Seiko see as their prime competitor? I would not have thought Omega.


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    Alysandir
    That's the thing though - Seiko is very proud of their heritage and history. Using a whole new name would prevent them from leveraging their name and history. My impression is that they're not trying to create a new brand with limited history - they want to transform the Seiko as we know it into the brand that they want to be, if that makes sense at all. Grand Seiko is a big part of their history and identity, so I'm personally glad they didn't go in a different direction.

    As for the vulnerability of Swiss brands, I think it might be more so that non-Swiss watchmakers are proving to be very capable and that the gap is not what it used to be. There are quality watches out there that do not have Swiss Made on the dial - like Grand Seiko.
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    Re: Grand Seiko Brand Strategy

    What are the top brands by market share in the 5-10k segment? I would bet Rolex, Omega, Tag Heuer, then what? Breitling, JLC, IWC?

    I would think GS could break into this but it will take some better distribution. I can buy most of these Swiss brands at my local mall or duty free section of the airport.

    I think it is a good move to keep GS but elevate the brand to go upmarket. They offer an arguably superior product at the same price than the competition.

    The main hurdle IMO is getting people to embrace the Japanese history and approach.

    Many people know Seiko or GS is better for the money but get hung up by it not being European. Watches are often about status, after all.


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    Re: Grand Seiko Brand Strategy

    Quote Originally Posted by BigMoufPosy View Post
    That's the thing though - Seiko is very proud of their heritage and history. Using a whole new name would prevent them from leveraging their name and history. My impression is that they're not trying to create a new brand with limited history - they want to transform the Seiko as we know it into the brand that they want to be, if that makes sense at all. Grand Seiko is a big part of their history and identity, so I'm personally glad they didn't go in a different direction.
    It didn't stop them from creating Credor, or Astron, or Prospex, so I don't know why re-branding GS - at least for the American market - would be any different. Also, I question whether they really grasp how much the SEIKO name is associated with "cheap watch" in the American mindset. I mean, in some ways it's better to be known for *something* than nothing at all, so that's at least a feather in their cap. But even on WUS - where we KNOW watches - you have people turning up their nose at Grand Seiko because of the association. What's the average consumer - who doesn't know squat about watches, but knows that Rolex and Omega are big deals - going to think when someone asks him to pay seven grand for a SEIKO instead of buying a Rolex or Omega?

    That's the battle GSA has to fight.

    Regards,
    Alysandir
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    Re: Grand Seiko Brand Strategy

    Quote Originally Posted by Alysandir View Post
    It didn't stop them from creating Credor, or Astron, or Prospex, so I don't know why re-branding GS - at least for the American market - would be any different. Also, I question whether they really grasp how much the SEIKO name is associated with "cheap watch" in the American mindset. I mean, in some ways it's better to be known for *something* than nothing at all, so that's at least a feather in their cap. But even on WUS - where we KNOW watches - you have people turning up their nose at Grand Seiko because of the association. What's the average consumer - who doesn't know squat about watches, but knows that Rolex and Omega are big deals - going to think when someone asks him to pay seven grand for a SEIKO instead of buying a Rolex or Omega?

    That's the battle GSA has to fight.

    Regards,
    Alysandir
    Fair point. Yes - those sub-brands do exist, but IMO they're for very specific markets and consumers, not for trying to break into the mainstream luxury watch market. It looks like Seiko's vision is for the new Grand Seiko initiative to be the future of their company, which is why I think they kept the name - because it represents the lineage of their company and how they got to this point. Look at any of the top luxury brands now. Most (if not all) of them have kept their name basically since inception. The history that is tied to the name is extremely important. Sure, in the short term they may face problems with how Seiko is perceived - but I'm sure they know this change won't happen overnight. But in the long term - I still think keeping their name is the right choice.

    Either way, It'll be an uphill battle for sure, and I figure they've done their research so I'm really curious to see how they proceed. I appreciate the discussion by the way, I rarely ever get to talk about watches like this!
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  10. #9
    Member ahonobaka's Avatar
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    Re: Grand Seiko Brand Strategy

    There will always those who buy watches as "luxury" status symbols; Likewise, there will also be those who buy watches for something more (Be it history, technological advancement, fine details, and all around geekery, etc.). GS will be consumed mostly by the latter for a number of years, maybe decades, before they eventually hit critical mass and start converting the "status" crowd (it also may never happen). This is OK in my opinion, and I'm completely fine if GS occupies a JLC type "highly respected watch geek watch" capacity, which they most certainly will continue to. But the connected world moves faster now, and you'd have to be pretty dense to not acknowledge the quality GS offers when actually holding one in hand. Swiss watches after all were "cheap" and "mass produced" for hundreds of years before they could turn that perception around, but GS has done so much internationally in not even 10 years due to it's cult like status, and apparent inherent qualities. My only wish is that they don't move TOO fast, stretch themselves too thin, or flood their market as they expand their lines. Luckily, Japanese corporations move slower than drying sap!

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    Re: Grand Seiko Brand Strategy

    There will always be folks that are not secure in their own self image and personal style; so they wear a brand name to justify their perceived self worth. For watches, the Swiss have that market locked down and that may never change. That's what Toyota found out with Lexus sedans. When status conscious car buyers go shopping, most look to the Germans even with Toyota/Lexus known reputation for better quality. The best selling Lexus model by far are the SUVs, not their sedans.
    Same problem for GS. Even with the newer branding, you are fighting an uphill battle against ingrained public perceptions.

    Marketing wise, it would help if GS developed a basic line of watches with names that the watch buying public will know and remember. Think Day Date, Submariner, Daytona or Speedmaster. Only a tiny group of fans would remember SBGAxxx or SBGVxxx.

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