CORDER’S COLUMN: Britain’s biggest retailers are the new digital influencers

WatchPro managing editor Rob Corder.WatchPro managing editor Rob Corder.

The buzzword ‘influencers’ feels like it is on the wane to me. I associate it with YouTube stars, fashion bloggers and celebrities with massive social media followings.

Brands used to fight each other to gift products to these influencers in the hope they would tweet about them. A few remain peerlessly powerful, but the overwhelming majority have faded into obscurity or are massive one day and nothing the next.

Searching for new influencers is the perennial task of commercial and marketing executives and, as with so much in life, the search is bringing them full circle back to some seemingly old school professionals and businesses.

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The reason WatchPro exists is because Britian’s biggest and best retailers have the sort of influence over shoppers that microscopically few bloggers can even dream about.

For brands, getting a foot in the door with the major Signet or Aurum retailers; other multiples like Beaverbrooks, TH Baker, Hugh Rice and Fraser Hart; and the best independents across Britain, is essential.

The influence of retailers used to be confined to the surrounding area of their physical stores. This is no longer the case. Today these businesses have massive reach across the internet and social media, giving them the opportunity to market and sell more of the watch brands they most admire and fewer of the brands that don’t measure up.

To work out the extent of this digital influence, WatchPro has this month created the 2017 Reach List, a report that evaluates the digital reach of the major retailers across the web, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (click to see the full the report).

The reach of the biggest brands is impressive. H Samuel has 26,900 Twitter followers; Watch Shop has 219,000 Facebook likes and amasses 1.6 million web site visits per month; Watches of Switzerland has over 28,000 Instagram followers.

Unlike followers of Justin Bieber (90.5m Twitter followers), the people engaging with these retailers are likely to have clear objectives in mind – namely to find information about the best products and prices for watches and jewellery.

The latest initiative that takes the retailer influence one stage further comes from Watches of Switzerland, which is going to be filming live at next week’s SIHH with its views on the latest luxury watches being launched, panel discussions with brands, and views from Aurum Holdings CEO Brian Duffy.

The videos will be shown online and shared via social media, potentially making the retailer one of the biggest influencers to walk the halls of SIHH.

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