Q&A: Casio’s Mark Gladwin on a breathless 2016

Mark Gladwin, the head of Casio’s timepiece division in the UK, has had plenty to keep him occupied in the last 12 months. The fledgling smart watch sector continues to develop and evolve at a rate of knots, while June’s EU referendum result affected consumer confidence as well as sending the value of the pound spiralling. WatchPro caught up with Gladwin to get his views on how Casio has dealt with all the above and more. 

WatchPro (WP): How has this year gone for Casio? Has there been a particular sub-brand of Casio that has outperformed the rest?

Mark Gladwin (MG): Casio have had a strong start to the year, +5% versus last year, and more importantly we have positive sell-out across our targeted channels. Within our brand portfolio we are establishing strong demand across our Master of G range due to our Air, Land & Sea communication and innovative product technology, specifically in the Spring/Summer season with our GWG-1000 MUDMASTER hero watch.  Supporting the Master of G we have our new G-Steel selection that sits in the £250-300 price point and targets a younger consumer.

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WP: What have been the biggest challenges that you’ve come up against in 2016 specifically?

MG: After the phenomenal growth of Edifice last year, which was +24% driven largely by new Bluetooth technology and collaborative models with Red Bull, the task of improving on these results has been somewhat of a challenge.

The decision to change our sponsorship partner from Red Bull to Scuderia Toro Rosso has been hugely positive for the brand and our positioning within the F1 community, however exceeding last year’s success with a reduced number of collaboration models has meant we have had to revise our approach.

I am positive that our campaign with Discovery on TV will see sales exceed expectations though, as we have extended our reach through more channels this year. Running from September to December on motoring programming, all UK car enthusiasts will certainly be aware of Edifice Bluetooth technology and our partnership with Scuderia Toro Rosso.

WP: Have you noticed any effects before, during or after the EU referendum vote? If so, have they been positive or negative?

MG: 2016 has been a challenging year with the pound falling and consumers unsure of the financial future; the post -referendum period saw the biggest fall in consumer confidence for 21 years – this has hit Fashion brands the hardest in recent months.

With the fall in the pound we have had to take some vital decisions to ensure stability, however it seems that Casio – with our selection of brands and premium offerings – buck the trend and keep winning in-store.

WP: At what stage is the smart watch sector at in its development at this moment in time? How do you see this segment of the market evolving over the coming 12 months?

MG: Casio have been early adopters within the smart watch sector; if you look back in time, Casio had forward-thinking technology integrated into wristwear in the early ‘90’s. The VDB-1000 was touch screen and had a phonebook, organiser, calculator and notepad. More recently we launched an outdoor smart watch within the US & Japan, and within G-SHOCK & Edifice we have Bluetooth integrated technology.

Ultimately it is positive for the consumer to have choice and it seems the smart watch is a lifestyle choice purchase, which is why I am confident it will not replace the traditional wrist watch.

WP: How will Casio approach 2017? Is it a case of improving what you’ve done this year or can we expect some big announcements/surprises?

MG: Casio will always strive for improvement and growth and our AW16 campaigns will certainly deliver – watch this space!

Our aim is to drive our G-SHOCK and Edifice Premium timepieces through both national & independent retail. We have had continued success over the last few years so we need to continue growing in the right areas. We therefore look forward to working with existing and new partners over the 6-12 months.

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