How do consumers search for luxury watches online? According to the WorldWatchReport™ 2013, which is based on more than 1.1 billion anonymous and unbiased consumer intentions spontaneously expressed by watch aficionados searching for luxury watch brands online, Brand is the most popular search intention capturing 73.20 per cent of all interest, followed by Model with almost 10 per cent (down thirteen per cent since last year). Price is the third most popular search intention, up +9 per cent year-to-year followed by Style up 74 per cent. “As prices increase they are becoming increasingly difficult to rationalise, combine this with a much more selective distribution and you have consumers looking for bargains on the Internet. Brands are positioning themselves among specific styles to create a cohesive style across watch collections and reduce references. Audemars Piguet is Luxury sport, Patek is Complications, etc.” explains WorldWatchReport Contributor, William Rohr.
Price sensitivity, however, varies widely from one market to another. In Asian (except Japan) and Middle Eastern countries such as India it is so important that it ranks above searches by Model. In Japan, where the Brand intention accounts for an overwhelming 87.89 per cent of all searches and Model for only 3.22 per cent (well below the global average), Preowned Watches is much a more popular intention than Price. This is due to a high affinity for vintage products amongst Japanese consumers.
STYLE AHEAD OF PRICE AND MODEL SEARCHES IN CHINA
One of the most significant evolutions this year in terms of search intentions was observed in the Chinese market - the emergence of style-related searches in comparison with Price and Model intentions. The shift in consumer behaviour is confirmed by our Chinese WorldWatchReport™ Contributors: “Compared to previous years, Chinese consumers’ knowledge regarding watches has increased significantly, following the boom of the market and aggressive brand promotions. Thanks to knowledge acquired on the Internet (some international professional watch forums and websites), a number of watch enthusiasts have already developed their own spectrum of watch knowledge, appreciation and preferences.” states William Bai, Editor in Chief, Horlogerie Culture Center of China. Alternatively, model intention still represents a very limited percentage in China (2.36 per cent vs. 8.00 per cent globally). Lack of well-translated Chinese names for models has been one important reason for those missing searches. For the majority of brands, awareness and knowledge of model names is something yet to be cultivated in China. “The trend might continue to be style over model because models usually speak to industry professionals not consumers,” says WorldWatchReport™ Contributor, Henri Liu, Editor in Chief of Air Time China. “For example, Chanel’s J12’s success was helped by an easily remembered name as is Chopard’s brand name which resonates with ‘Chopin’.”
GLOBAL PREFERENCES FOR COMPLICATIONS & MOVEMENTS
Going more in depth within search intentions, further consumer search patterns emerge. Besides brand and model searches, consumers express interest for specific watch styles and features from brands. Aligned with growth of interest in the Haute Horlogerie category and domination of the Prestige category in this year’s WorldWatchReport™, consumers are searching for “Complication”, “Chronograph” and “Automatic” more than any other parameter in the Complications & Movements search intention. According to Pascal Ravessoud, Development Director at the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie and WorldWatchReport™ Contributor: “Complications have always been and will always remain a key driver.” Among the Complications & Movements’ intention, Chronograph and Tourbillon are the two most popular product segments. Interestingly these categories, generate a much higher level of interest than Diving or Women’s watches.
TOP 10 MOST SEARCHED BRANDS FOR CHRONOGRAPHS
According to the 2013 WorldWatchReport™ TAG Heuer maintained its leadership position as most associated with Chronograph searches, IWC remarkably increased by two spots at number two, ahead of Omega, second most sought-after luxury watch brand globally. IWC’s ranking is the result of the brand’s strong communication strategy.
The first four brands: TAG Heuer, IWC, Omega and Breitling make up almost 60 per cent of all search demand for Chronographs. In a category dominated by Prestige models, Montblanc from the High Range category gains two spots, at number seven, and Zenith enters the Top 10 for the first time. It is also surprising not to find brands such as Hublot and Panerai in the Top 10 and instead having brands such as Montblanc and Cartier. Hublot has more recognition for its “Big Bang” chronograph by model intention than for generic chronographs. The same can be said for Rolex knowing that they are very powerful in the chronograph segment with their iconic Daytona (chrono) collection.
TOP 10 MOST SEARCHED BRANDS FOR TOURBILLONS
Patek Philippe, number one Haute Horlogerie brand in the global rankings, maintained its spot as the most searched brand for tourbillons – no surprises there.
This year’s ranking saw brands that invested heavily in their communication strategies well rewarded. Hublot takes an impressive 2nd place, up three spots. Strongest progression this year without a doubt would be Richard Mille, up thirteen places, in third, and Piaget, up six spots, reflecting the brand’s successful efforts communicating on its watchmaking know-how. Breguet, inventor of the tourbillon, lost two spots this year and Jaeger-LeCoultre five spots. The brand is celebrating its 180th anniversary in 2013, depending on what it chooses to communicate this year, this is a category to watch.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR WATCH BRANDS’ COMMUNICATION STRATEGY?
Knowing what consumers are searching for opens up opportunities for brands to further reinforce their positioning, either within their historical values or entering new territories. After having identified the perception of the brand in key markets, more effective communication strategies can be implemented using the whole Marketing/Communication portfolio at hand and improving the integration of the Internet into commercial strategy. Digital and more specifically Search Engine Optimisation, is one of the tools brands can use to further drive and increase traffic on their website. Samantha Jelin, Head of Search and Display at Digital Luxury Group, recommends: “Make sure to create content on your website that corresponds to how clients are searching for your watch category and brand. Search engines will pick up the content and if done according to Google ranking criteria, you will rank on search engines for those queries. For instance, if they are looking for “complicated watches”, make sure to have one main page presenting your complicated watches in addition to sub-pages.
Source: Europa Star October - November 2013 Magazine Issue