Swiss Watchmakers Discuss Communication Strategies for the Future


Katrin Kunnap | December 10, 2010

Katrin Kunnap, Adlux sales manager for digital advertising in private jet terminals, presents a round up of Journée Internationale du Marketing Horloger 2010

Corum CEO Antonio Calce, Centre (photo by Eveline Perroud)

‘The Ambassadors of the Watchmaking Industry’ and ‘Digital Communication and the use of Social Networking’ were the main topics of discussion, on the second day of JIMH that took place in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

The morning round-table discussion featured brand representatives Jean-Marc Jacot from Parmigiani, Antonio Calce from Corum and Richard Mille from Richard Mille, who discussed the differences in communication strategies, between mass and luxury products, in the timepiece industry.

It emerged that manufacturers focusing on high volume sales and mass-market customers, are using blogs, Facebook and Twitter platforms, to ensure high levels of brand awareness. The panel questioned the appropriateness of social media for Haute Horlogerie, acknowledging that such platforms give away control of the brand’s image to the user.

I agree with Mr. J-M Jacot of Parmigiani, who argued that luxury is a synonym of “rarity” and should therefore be communicated accordingly. He argued that products should be marketed rarely but perfectly targeted, likening his ideal strategy as “giving powerful injections to 10 people, instead of giving 1000 aspirins to 1000 people”.

“ products should be marketed rarely but perfectly targeted: powerful injections to 10 people, instead of aspirin to 1000 ”

The presentation by Guillaume Tetu from Hautlence stressed the importance of understanding and communicating with the final client, in a more selective and exclusive way than mass social media. He suggested that timepiece brands, willing to protect the exclusiveness and rarity of their unique products, should more carefully choose their communication tools and channels.

Today, advertising presents a difficult dichotomy for Haute Horlogerie. There is limited number of advertising channels for luxury brands out there, traditional print media is slowly disappearing, new modern technologies are rarely used by luxury brands and many that are, are misused. Mr. Jacot has a point – the product is rarity, and the advertising should be rare as well.

Advertising agencies and marketing directors of the luxury brands need to be aware that the world of communication has changed and the next generation is just around the corner. Therefore building marketing strategies based on the same approach as 2-3 years ago, will definitely be administering “1000 aspirins to 1000 people”. However throwing a brand into next generational platforms and user respondent systems, without fully understanding the tools, risks completely losing control of the brand.

The luxury sector is a limited exclusive area – there are not too many platforms, destinations or channels for brands to promote themselves. Therefore, it is important for brands to be aware and learn about its final client as much as possible, and tailor the most appropriate strategy for the end-buyer, not just the end-user.