“War of the brands – the online battleground for luxury watch clientele”: IC-Agency’s exclusive report.
There’s a secret war going on online in the luxury watch market, a battle for territory and brand notoriety where clientele and reputation are at stake and the competition is fierce.
Since the unprecedented impact of its WorldWatchReport in Baselworld last year, Geneva-based IC-Agency continues to cover the latest luxury watch industry news from the “front lines” with its 2006 online study. Successfully exploited by top consumer goods groups like Nestlé with its fast-growing Nespresso brand, IC-Agency knows that this kind of online strategic intelligence is the key to competitive edge in the branding war.
Germany, France, the UK, Italy: which territory is the most fertile for growth in European market share? What surprising shifts are happening in the dominant US market? Which brands and models are gaining ground and winning the hearts of prospective and existing clientele?
The undeniable push to gain new territory in Europe
According to the report, Rolex’s vast empire is confirmed by its dominance in all 5 markets studied. The numbers prove that dethroning this King is quasi impossible. For the 12 luxury watch brands selected for the study, Rolex racks up over 60% of demand in the top 10 online searches for specific models. However, a daunting challenger to the King is emerging in Europe. This fierce opponent is Breitling, and the battlefield will be on French soil.
Success in the US market does not guarantee loyalty back home
And that’s not the only news. The study shows that the US dominates online demand, with 73% of total searches for the 12 luxury brands emanating from this market. Back home in Europe, the results are more unexpected. The WorldWatchReport reveals that Italy ranks 2nd behind the United States in overall search volume relating to these brands, even exceeding search demand in 4th placed Germany by 215%.
But success in the US does not necessarily guarantee loyalty on the home front. TAG Heuer ranks an outstanding number two in search volume in the dominant US online market, weighing in with over 1 million searches. Despite this branding success, TAG Heuer does not even place into the ranking of top 10 model-specific searches. Could it be the flipside of strong brand-focused advertising campaigns showcasing high profile ambassadors like Brad Pitt? Notwithstanding their laudable US positioning, TAG Heuer only ranks 7th in Italy, the number one European market for online search.
Even Longines has gained considerable ground on Italian soil, claiming 4th place with three times the volume of home-grown Bulgari. However, when US figures are analysed Longines only arrives on the scene in 7th position, claiming a mere 25% advance on the Italian brand.
Italy and the UK pushing forward, Germany and France need to regroup
In Italy, Cartier boasts an enviable 3rd place following powerhouse Omega. However, their shocking setback occurs in France, the market par excellence for luxury goods, where beloved Cartier fails to pull together even half of the online search demand of TAG Heuer or Omega. On the other hand, Breitling, the impressive challenger to Rolex in this market, is victorious in claiming 70% of the volume subscribed to the watch industry King.
The French online market is a great disappointment. It reports a little more than one-third the volume of Italy and the UK, while Germany accounts for less than half. Only time will tell how the luxury brands will respond to these shifts in online demand, the growth of Internet penetration and the ever-evolving replica phenomenon in these markets.
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