Even though the promise of a vaccine strikes a positive note in the current COVID-19 misery, the pandemic still holds everyone, and especially retailers, in a firm grip. However, this situation may also prove to be an opportunity for small and medium-sized jewellers and watch retailers to rethink the way they market their offer. Besides an impeccable online presence, both creativity and establishing a personal connection are essential.
The world has already done its digital shift. Online advertising, social media posts and online magazines are now the rule, especially in periods of confinement. Advantages for retailers seem clear: their online information can be uploaded and updated at all times and its effects can be measured. Online marketing and developing new ways to connect digitally with customers can still be fine-tuned, however. Customers have discovered the many advantages of online browsing, so it had better be an unforgettable experience.
Having the freedom to shop around to find the best deal, consumers are not pressured to make a decision on the spot. They can read reviews online without leaving the comfort of their own homes and they do not even have to come to the store to enjoy the interaction with a watch expert, thanks to technical functions such as live chats. Companies that want to remain in business cannot do without a good online presence.
However, since buying jewellery and watches is an inherently personal experience, consumers will more often than ever want to browse and feel the products in a physical store. In order to attract customers, many creative attempts to connect with watch adepts and potential clientele are made, although COVID-19 makes it hard to actually meet up with people on a large scale. Even so, it may be expected that personal connections and tailor-made events will be more and more important, as people are longing for real human interaction again. Back to basics as it were; in the past retailers were known to visit their more wealthy clients personally, tailoring their offer to their every need.
Granted, visiting every customer in person can be stretching it a bit, both in time and expenses, but many watch resellers do offer this service, which entails them selecting a range of watches that meet their customer’s taste, putting it in a strongbox and paying them a visit. For security reasons not to be recommended for some new relations, though.
Knowing your customers is key in all forms of marketing, and it is essential in order to maximise every opportunity to attract new customers, whilst staying relevant and exciting to existing ones.
Meeting up at an event
When the conditions allow, organising fairs and brand shows at special venues, such as museums, hotels or even zoos, can be another profitable way of connecting with existing customers and finding new ones. Retailers worldwide often organise multi-themed events, combining vintage car enthusiasts with watch lovers, and fashionistas with people who like jewellery.
Want it smaller? Why not host an intimate in-house event, properly catered, of course, decorating the entire store as a mock-up brand store, and providing entertainment in the form of a deejay, a watchmaker or an engraver? Once again, it is all about the experience.
Special edition watches
Another more elaborate way of connecting with specific target audiences is the development and construction of special edition watches in partnership with other audience magnets, such as astronauts (Omega), F1-drivers (TAG Heuer) or Michelin-star chefs. An example of the latter was recently launched by Dutch watchmaker Christiaan van der Klaauw and Reijersen Juwelier, co-targeting an audience that enjoys fine dining.
The special edition Christiaan van der Klaauw Inter Scaldes for 3-star Michelin chef Jannis Brevet will certainly be making waves. Inter Scaldes was awarded its third Michelin star in December 2017 and is one of two 3-star Michelin restaurants in the Netherlands. The Inter Scaldes edition is based on Van der Klaauw’s Real Moon Tides astronomical watch, which is endowed with a tides indicator and the most accurate 3D moon phase ever incorporated in a mechanical watch. Since chef Jannis Brevet is famed for his ‘cooking with the tides’, the inspiration for picking this watch as the model to be personalised seems obvious.
Reijersen Jeweller has a reputation of finding creative ways to keep his clientele intrigued, such as taking the initiative for a number of Special Edition MeisterSinger watches. Not only did he come up with the idea of honouring Michelin chef Brevet, but he also arranged for anyone who buys the watch to enjoy a complimentary dinner and stay at the Inter Scaldes Manoir, and, if needed, even a helicopter flight to and from the venue. Inter Scaldes is the only restaurant in the Netherlands with a helicopter platform.
Other creative ideas to engage audiences are design contests in which the public can participate, personal engraving possibilities, as offered by the new Cartier Pasha, partnering with charities and facilitating and rewarding peer recommendations by customers.
Staff is key
Needless to say, the store should be at its most attractive. By creating a wonderful in-store experience, with a comfortable seating & bar area, and even the option to eat, shop owners can encourage their customers to take their time browsing the watch collection and offer them the expertise of the sales staff and in-store watchmakers. Here, a store’s staff is an essential marketing tool.
Especially now, with the falling numbers of visiting tourists, focusing on local customers and entertaining them in the most luxurious way, may be the only way forward.
This article was written by Melinda Braaksma for MONOCHROME. Photos by CoJan van Toor Fotografie.