Companies like Oris have worked to position themselves independent of Swatch Group with proprietary calibres. Louise Blain, Oris’s Canadian director of marketing and sales, says the company has been working on a movement for the last 10 years.
“We will never be fully independent from our supplier, Sellita, but we have a really good partnership with them,” she says, adding Oris’s movement has been in testing for the last 18 months. “If you only have in-house movements, your prices will go up drastically and that doesn’t fit with our company philosophy of offering a product anyone can purchase. You still need those $1500 price points.”
While the focus at Basel tends to be on things like movements and dial design, straps are not to be overlooked, particularly as replacement items.
“For the retailer, replacement leather bracelets are important because they can make the highest turnover of all the products they have in their store with the least amount of space,” explains Robert Hirsch, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Hirsch.
“They are also an important loyalty program for retailers. A consumer does not shop for a new bracelet; they simply go to their trusted watch retailer. If the client is satisfied with this purchase, they will return to the same retailer when they need another bracelet.”
Social media continues to be one of the main marketing tools brands are using to get consumers to the counter. Mariaelena d’Agnese, export manager for Rodania, says that in addition to product news, the company’s Facebook page and Twitter feed look to engage younger consumers with contests, helping to build a brand that has traditionally been targeted to an older demographic.
Although being able to directly track sales as a result of social media is extremely difficult, d’Agnese says the aim is to build brand recognition. “You try to create awareness about the brand,” she says. “If you send this kind of message to your end user, it will impact retailers and distributors.”
Eric Senftleben, vice-president of planning and operations for Citizen Watch Company of Canada, says consumers naturally respond to meaningful brand philosophies. “You need to have an emotional connection with a brand,” he says. “It’s about explaining a feeling to people. That’s something we’ve always been very proud of. [More sales] come when people understand who you are as a brand. And when they get as emotional as we do talking about it, it’s the easiest thing to sell.”
Baselworld 2015 runs from March 19 to 26.