Rolf Studer moved from Coca Cola to Oris in 2006, and became co-CEO a decade later. This year he is looking to keep the fizz the watchmaker fizzing with a focus on younger, metropolitan consumers looking for high quality but affordable Swiss made mechanical watches. In a year when Oris also opened its first shop in the UK — a pop up in the West End of London — WatchPro caught up with Mr Studer to see how his strategy will help retail partners.
WatchPro: What are the key priorities for Oris in the UK this year?
Rolf Studer: We want to make people aware of our message of “go your own way” and bring across our key values of independent thinking and acting, and making mechanical-only watches that stand out with their functional innovation for a price that makes sense. We’ll be offering a genuine Oris experience that excites even more people about the Oris brand.
We also want to continue to grow with the young and urban customers that we have gained over the last years through lines such as the Divers Sixty-Five.
WatchPro: How does the pop-up shop in London contribute to your objectives?
Rolf Studer: We held a series of events at our store to engage with our customers and more such events will follow. This is a great chance for us to make them experience our values and our products in depth and to create fans of the brand.
WatchPro: How does the pop-up help Oris retail partners? Does it not compete with them?
Rolf Studer: Additional brand exposure and awareness is good for all parties. In our pop-up, we are able to create a new, up-beat vibe for the brand that creates excitement. This will lead to sales that will not only happen at our store. So, I really believe that this is good also for our long-standing retail partners.
WatchPro: What are the most important collections you are focusing on, and how are this year’s watches positioned in terms of price, value for money, design and functionality?
Rolf Studer: Aquis and Divers Sixty-Five are our most important collections in the UK. We have always been known to offer a very well-made Swiss mechanical watch for a price that makes sense. Both these collections start at around £1,400 and offer great functionality for everyday use. We didn’t go crazy with our prices when some other brands did and therefore also didn’t have to reduce them. People appreciate that we stay true to our values and I believe that this is an important factor to our success over the last few years.
WatchPro: How has Oris been performing in the UK since the Brexit vote, and what are your expectations for 2018?
Rolf Studer: We have been doing well and are strong double-digit figures up this year while the industry (FH) is down double digits. I believe this will be another good year for us in the UK – we have a strong proposition from a brand message as well as a product point of view. Also, the spirit of the time is coming towards us; people move away from an ostentatious towards a more intrinsic form of luxury. These are more the times of craft beer than of champagne. And Oris fits very well into that new understanding of luxury.
WatchPro: What are the most successful tactics that your retail partners are using? Events? Promoting special/limited editions? Oris furniture?
Rolf Studer: Events, the personal experience of the brand, are certainly a key factor. We have seen very good response from such activities. What we are doing in our pop up we also do with some of our retail partners; this will always create advocates for the brand. Our limited editions always have created excitement, a good example of which is this year’s Carl Brashear Chronograph. The 2,000 pieces were sold out shortly after the press release was launched. But of course, every communication and marketing channel must be played well to be successful in the long run.
WatchPro: Are you still expanding the number of retail doors that stock Oris, or is the network about right today?
Rolf Studer: The focus is more on quality than on quantity of the stores. Important is the consumer experience in the stores that carry our brand.
WatchPro: The way customers approach buying luxury watches has changed dramatically over the past few years with ecommerce, social media, in depth research before buying, etc. How has Oris adapted to this?
Rolf Studer: Social media has been an important part of talking to a new and different clientele over the last years. We have more than 2.3 million followers on Facebook and we have a very high engagement rate on Instagram. It’s great that the fans of a brand can connect and share their excitement online and of course if the talk is positive then this is an important factor before a new customer will commit to a brand.
We also sell online through the e-shops of our established retail partners and also on Mr Porter. Today, the customer wants to choose the channel where he makes the purchase. The brand’s task is to make this experience consistent and exciting.