We’ve all heard how fashion and beauty brands are fighting to stay relevant and connect with younger generations – whether it’s adapting a See-Now-Buy-Now strategy or collaborating with young celebs on collections – capturing millennials is at the center of many brands’ objectives. But what approaches are luxury watch brands and jewelry makers adopting to win over this digital-savvy crowd? It has always been a tricky topic for heritage brands, finding the right balance between attracting younger buyers and at the same time staying true to their history. But a change of plans is necessary, seeing that Apple just recently outsold the whole Swiss watch industry with its popular smartwatches.
Luxury watch brands and jewelry makers are slowly starting to attract the next generation: Tech-savvy Millennials that rather spend their money on experiences than on things and who have a whole world of information about jewelry and watches at their fingertips. A generation that requires a completely different approach to marketing; Georges Kern, CEO of Swiss luxury watchmaker Breitling acknowledges: “Millennials have to be taken into account. I truly believe analogue watches will live on – but to sell a product which is perceived as 250 years old, you have to communicate in new ways, which reflects how these millennials are consuming fashion and everything they buy”.
Four ways luxury watch brands & jewelry makers are winning over millennials:
Brand ambassadors that speak to Millennials
Remember when Selena Gomez was announced as Coach’s new brand ambassador? Celebrity brand ambassadors (ones that suit the brand and truly speak to their target audience) have always been an attractive way for brands to raise their brand awareness. According to Ad Age, a brand that signs an ambassador contract with a celebrity or an athlete can see their stock rise up to .25 as soon as the news is out. The brand value added by celebrities is instantaneous and evident, and luxury watch brands are no strangers to this marketing tactic. Swiss watchmaker Omega has been building up tight relationships with their ambassadors over the years, counting on names like George Clooney and Nicole Kidman as their closest partners. While these celebrities may attract Generation Y, Millennials need ambassadors they can relate to, who share the same values as they do – basically, Millennials need Millennials. Omega realized this fact, naming designer favorite and upcoming it-girl Kaia Gerber and her brother Presley as new brand ambassadors. Stepping into the footsteps of her mother Cindy Crawford who has been working with the luxury watch brand for over 20 years, Kaia is the face of Omega’s new Tresor line. The collection is inspired by one of the brand’s oldest designs and aimed at bridging the gap between generations by showing that Omega’s watches are timeless and suitable for every age.
Offering prices Millennials want to pay
Apple might have just outsold the whole Swiss watch industry, but that doesn’t mean Millennials are only attracted to smartwatches. In fact, old school watches are back on trend and Millennials are the leaders as both consumers and producers. In the past years, there’s been a boom in affordable watch startups founded by Millennials, offering timeless pieces at affordable prices. According to a study by Hearst Magazines UK, the new generation values functionality and transparency, meaning their purchases are driven by the product and not the brand. But where does that leave the Swiss watch industry? While many brands stay true to their heritage and hence also to their expensive watch prices, some luxury watch brands are adapting to the demands of the new generation: Swiss luxury house Tissot has launched more affordable versions of their timeless classics that are aimed to not only fit Millennials’ values and budget, but at the same time be of the same quality ‘Swiss made’ stands for. Tissot took it one step further and announced the re-make of their popular automatic chronograph with a price knock-off of almost one third of the original amount. Once released, it could be the ultimate Millennial product – a fair balance between product and brand.
Using influencers to raise awareness
With Millennials came the rise of social media and influencer marketing. While a couple years ago many brands thought influencer marketing would be a phase, 78.2% of brands have implemented influencer campaigns in the last year (The State of Influencer Report, 2018). According to our report, influencer collaborations for events are the second most common scenario for influencer campaigns; luxury brands are not new to this method. Swiss luxury jewelry brand De Grisogono is known for its opulent parties that are held bi-annually either for founder and designer Fawez Gruosi’s birthday or the Cannes Film Festival. On the guestlist you can find celebrity influencers like Toni Garrn, Winnie Harlow or Alina Baikova who share snaps of what’s happening on their social media channels and make De Grisogono’s event accessible to all their followers. As lifestyle models they are an inspirational source for many followers and what they wear or do is often sold out or copied soon after. By inviting these popular opinion leaders, De Grisogono is accessing their Millennial dominated audience, creating brand awareness and enhancing the interest towards the Swiss luxury brand.
Hitting Home with Sustainability
Consumer values are shifting and with Millennials disrupting shopping behaviors, brands are are trying to adapt their strategies and meet their needs. According to Positive Luxury, the new generation of luxury consumers is becoming more and more aware of social and environmental issues. It has become such an important aspect for Millennials, that they are even willing to pay more for products and services perceived as sustainable or coming from environmentally and socially responsible companies. In the fashion industry we see brands increasingly switching to more ethical ways of manufacturing to prove their commitment of going green, and this is also reflected in the luxury sector. Driven by Blancpain’s deep connection with diving (their first diving watch was launched in 1953), the Swiss luxury watch brand has been raising ocean awareness by strongly supporting scientific expeditions and sponsoring the World Ocean Summit. Blancpain’s mission is to educate about our oceans and raise awareness of the concerns. In 2014, the luxury house first introduced a limited edition chronograph of which proceeds partly go towards the #BlancpainOceanCommitment and each watch buyer will be entitled to a membership in the Blancpain Ocean Commitment Circle, including invitations to private events and conferences regarding ongoing scientific expeditions. With the third edition of this special watch just being released this spring, Blancpain is not only once again supporting a good cause, but also making its products attractive to the sustainability-seeking Millennials.
If you’d like to dig deeper into marketing to Millennials, check out our report on The State of Influencer Marketing 2018 in which we interviewed over 800 industry professionals on their view on this constantly evolving marketing method.