Happy New Year. Welcome to 2018 and the wonderful watch world we live in. This year, we opted not to reflect back on the negatives of 2017. Yes, there were negatives, there is no point in denying it: disappointing watch sales, disappointing product and even disappointing changes in industry personnel. However, the flip side is the best side: Many brands and retailers experienced strong holiday sales –boosting profits and spirits. Many brands made supreme efforts to unveil new timepieces with true value propositions — without losing their signature appeal. In the realm of changes in ranks, some brands made some pretty strong and impressive turns — bringing several women into the fold and mixing up the ranks just enough to keep brands and retailers on their toes.
Despite sagging exports and drooping sales, despite a thinning of the retail ranks as many brick-and-mortar stores closed their doors, we expect to see a shift in dynamic in 2018. Smart and savvy retailers will embrace the internet, social media and the concept of retail websites with informative blogs that will set them apart from others. They will try to join forces with the still-secret hot new retail/brand platform that will make its debut mid year (if not sooner).
Smart brands will begin to distinguish amongst blog sites that are retailers versus truly informative sites with strong followings to make the right marketing statements. Smart brands will also differentiate — we hope — between quality and quantity, and between 20-something “influences” and true experienced insiders. Unless the product mix is under a few thousand dollars at retail, reaching out to ripped jeans and beboppers just won’t get you the right audience … even 20 years down the road. Having a media plan helps. Being a partner to your retail brands helps. Dictation (of what retailers “must” buy) has to come to an end. Grey market has to be reeled in. … Sadly, the grey market goods have spiraled out of control thanks to many brands looking to dump merchandise they just can’t sell. After creating the problem, however, there are ways to combat it … particularly with smart new websites that can help. New product coming out needs to be dramatically different and more exclusive than in the past.
Yes, there are many ways to make 2018 more successful, more profitable and more enjoyable for all involved. Watches have withstood the test of time for centuries and will continue to do so … we just have to grab the reigns and ride as a team. We have to put the past behind us, learn from our mistakes and move forward. It is exactly what I plan to do in my life and work, and I wish everyone — brands, retailers, media colleagues and all of the people in between — a healthy, happy, and successful New Year.