In an interview with FHH Journal, respected watch blogger François-Xavier Overstake had much to say about the direction that the industry is moving.
The interviewer wasted no time getting to the recurring featured column on Overstake's blog, Equationdutemps, about what's wrong with watchmaking. Overstake said that there's no problem with demand, but supply — brands aren't leveraging their customer's feedback properly or listening to the salesperson actually interacting with their customer.
"[T]here are three customer segments — collectors, enthusiasts and the ordinary customer who doesn’t buy 'a' watch but 'the' watch as a gift to themselves or to celebrate a special event," he explained.
"The first two segments are important as opinion leaders, but the most strategic segment is obviously the third one, as these are the customers who account for the overwhelming majority of volume sales . . . and they are clearly a far more mature segment than in the past. They pick up information from the various online media and aren’t afraid to ask all kinds of questions. Their understanding of watchmaking has moved up a notch, meaning they no longer buy with their eyes closed. Particularly at those prices! Before, you could expect to spend one month’s salary on a good watch. Now two months’ salary isn’t enough. In these conditions, the ordinary customer thinks twice before handing over their cash."
Overstake then shared an anecdote about clothes shopping, remembering a sales associate who took over an hour to figure out exactly what it was he wanted. No similar level of attention has ever been paid to him by a watch seller, which he identifies as part of the problem.
The interviewer eventually pivots to a second post by Overstake that calls out the watch industry's inability to effectively market to millenials. "The core issue in the medium term is to recruit a new customer base, and in this respect I understand why established brands are adapting their communication strategy to these new customers," Overstake says.
"But before starting on communication, they need to be looking at the products. What are we offering and at what price points? My concern is that changes to communication aren’t enough to attract new customers in search of exclusive, creative, personalised products at fair prices. And before they can even start winning them over with these products, there’s the small matter of convincing them to wear a watch at all!"
Read the whole conversation here.