In the testing market for high volume fashion watches, STORM London is holding its own thanks to a focus on unique styles, strong social media and support for its network of retailers that spans more than 40 countries. WatchPro spoke to the company’s co-founder, Anna Lee, to find out more.
WatchPro: What are the unique selling points for STORM in 2019 and how has the brand developed from a product point of view this year?
Anna Lee: There are several strategic choices I would point two. First, unique designs; there’s nothing similar in the market today. Secondly, a strong brand identity. In the market today, very few watch brands align themselves with street culture and have a street look and feel in mind when creating products. This means STORM products stand out – they have a unique point of difference.
We are a British brand, designed in London since 1989, and one of a few British fashion watch brands that has stood the test of time. But we are also an international brand, recognised around the world. STORM is sold in over 40 countries.
We have high brand loyalty. Numerous collectors own over 50 STORM watches. We have good price points, with watches selling from £99.99 to £239.99 and we offer excellent service. We have an in-house service department where we target to service all watches within 48 hours.
WatchPro: The UK market is very tough for fashion watches right now, how are you finding business?
Anna Lee: I’d be lying if I didn’t say the market is challenging, but on the positive side, this difficult climate has forced us to look at new strategies and to do some things differently. We continue to support our independent retailers and have set up specific strategies to help drive their business. We are running several local social media campaigns for our retailers. We are helping them to build a market by promoting their stores within a 10-mile radius. We also ran a recycling scheme which generated an interesting number of additional sales in the last few months.
WatchPro: What are your expectations for Christmas this year?
Anna Lee: That’s the big question, hopefully, the economy will recover following Brexit. This should improve confidence and the overall outlook for Christmas retail sales.
It’s important to remember that the lead up to Christmas is still the biggest trading period and so it’s key that stores ensure they have adequate stocks of their best selling items.
We expect to see improvements this Christmas following the launch of our latest social media campaign and our new influencer programme, now live. This combined with the release of our new signature designs which reflect the true STORM ethos is generating positive interest.
WatchPro: What are the key collections for A/W 2019?
Anna Lee: We have 3 key style categories for STORM:
STORM Signature styles which incorporate features STORM is known for. Unusual time reading features, revolving disc movements, elevated and unusual cut glass, unique vertical spinning discs, and other features like thermometers, compasses etc.
Contemporary designs with the STORM twist. Featuring laser dials, STORM signature DX strap, elevated glass, edge to edge glass and monochrome minimalist designs.
Limited and Special Editions watches: having a legion of loyal customers who collect STORM watches, the brand feels it is important to offer collectable limited and special edition watches every season. The newest Special Edition STORM watch is the STORM Camera V6 watch which was released to celebrate STORM 30th anniversary.
After 30 years in the game, STORM has returned to its roots. The concept is simple: it must be STORM and it must be authentic. Back to street style and bold statements. Back to doing it the STORM way.
The AW19 collection sees a return of several STORM favourites, welcoming: New Blast, New Blast V2, Remi V2, Hydron V2, New Ion.
The collection is dominated by brushed steel. In true STORM style, making the watches unisex has been an important part of the design process. This is a feature that trends within this AW19 collection and is an element that is popular within the street style.
WatchPro: How has STORM expanded internationally this year, and what are the key markets for this year and next?
Anna Lee: We have just finished exhibiting at MODE – Shanghai fashion week; we received a lot of interest and were selected as a key brand to be promoted during the show. We are fairly new to the China market but the reception so far has been positive.
We have seen some promising growth for our German market, and have also excelled with digital marketing campaigns for key retailers.
There are many new projects that we are working on to continue to grow the brand both locally and internationally which will launch next year. These include working on some international cross-promotions with other companies including one collaboration with a well-known streetwear brand.
We have a long term presence in several key European countries and are working to ensure that the Brexit transition will be as seamless as possible in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
WatchPro: What is your strategy for selling direct to consumers via e-commerce and promoting your watches online and via social media?
Anna Lee: Our marketing approach is set to focus on deliverables and specific audiences, we then re-target consumers that engage with us.
This strategy allows us to understand our customers, and learn about their interests and hobbies. The beauty of digital advertising is that we can monitor and optimise the campaign daily. This enables us to react quickly to consumer response and drive ads to an audience that is engaging well.