Luxury watchmakers focus increasingly on Chinese consumers
An increasing number of luxury watchmakers are adapting their strategies to the reality of a booming Chinese consumer base, both at home and abroad. In June of 2012, in conjunction with Ferrari, Hublot created the Big Bang Ferrari Magic Gold Watch China Limited Edition, which was launched in Shanghai. That same year, the brand partnered with Manchester United Football Club, one of the biggest brands in China, using the team’s stars to open a second Shanghai boutique and to participate in showcase collection and catwalk exhibition, also in Shanghai.
Other major luxury watchmakers such as Chopard, Piaget, Blancpain, Jaquet Droz, Vacheron Constantin, Breitling and Panerai, have all made serious efforts to tailor their designs and business models to Chinese consumers, either by releasing China-specific timepieces or crafting bespoke marketing campaigns for the Far East.
What concerns experts like Manuel Emch, CEO of Romain Jerome, is the shifting of the market from the traditional bastion of watches: England. “Some brands are maybe a little bit too focused on China and they sometimes forget that Chinese customers are actually also buying European luxury,” he said.
Mark Hearn, the managing director of Patek Philippe UK, expressed similar feelings: “You find a lot of customers in the UK have actually come over from China, because they want that authenticity and extra quality. Those individuals often become customers for life, and they’ll happily come back time and time again, whether it’s to buy a new watch or to service their old one.”
While no one doubts the power or strength of the Chinese market – and surely no one rejects the profits being made there – watch purists will fight a tough fight to ensure that the UK remains an important market.
adapted from Forbes