Having only recently signed a 12 month partnership with the female orientated Lifetime Channel as well as announcing US Singer, Kelly Clarkson as our new global female brand ambassador, I am now regularly fielding the question, why the renewed focus on the female market place?
My response is that whilst Citizen currently ranks number 4* for ladies watches under £500 (*source: GfK Dec 2013) we still want to further enhance our market share in what is a very crowded arena, as well as grow our average retail price point in the sector. For this reason our strategy for the next few years is to focus on our ladies collections and BaselWorld 2014 will be a pivotal point with the introduction of a new look premium ladies collection.
In recent years, the popularity of fashion watch brands namely Michael Kors, has taken the industry by surprise. Never in all my 16 years in the industry have I seen a brand catapult itself from relative obscurity to one of the leading watch brands. But is this a passing phase and how should other brands respond? Over the years we’ve seen many ‘fashion’ brands and branded watches come and go. This is common place when you consider the fashion trend cycle that has in recent years included Bling, Cuff watches and Oversized to name but a few. With the female market most affected, there is always something new and different that takes the industry by storm before it is superseded by the next big ‘thing’.
In a market driven by fickle fashion trends, traditional watch brands are still holding their own. The ladies market under £500 is evidently driven by fashion brands but the fact of the matter remains the overall Top 20 UK Watch brands never really changes, merely flavour of the month. Fast fashion continually proves challenging, particularly to bricks and mortar retailers with limited space, who must be cautious when investing. Whilst some retailers are on the lookout for the next trend, in most instances it’s the true watch brands that are the mainstay with savvy consumers seeking timeless appeal over fads.
With digital at brands finger tips, it’s becoming easier for brands to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to their consumers desires. The use of social media platforms allows brands to gain unique insights into their customers and ultimately help drive product development and communications. At Citizen we have seen unparalleled levels of engagement with female consumers via our Facebook community which has smashed through the 100,000 mark in under a year.
It is my opinion that the Michael Kors effect is a good thing, bringing a renewed interest and focus to women’s watches that has been lacking in recent years and benefitting traditional brands as the trends move on and consumers seek trusted and dedicated watch brands. With the luxury marketplace also seeing a renewed emphasis on women’s watches, as women seek out mechanical models to rival the men’s, so too does the mid-market sector seek out technological advancements and functionality such as world time, which has seen the Citizen women’s World Time A.T model prove a huge success.
With women’s interest media starting to take watches seriously as an accessory, there is also a growing emphasis on ‘watch wardrobing’. Women want both watches and jewellery to suit different occasions. From fashion to colour and specific functionality a varied watch collection is key for the style conscious woman. So what can we expect for women in 2014? Well with Basel on the horizon we’ll find out soon enough but I’m expecting that diamonds and two-tone are still strong, providing elegance and flexibility and of course the continued dominance of pink and rose gold.