Telling Time

Following two consecutive years of declining sales and profitability, the watch and jewelry industry finds itself at a critical juncture, cites the Digital IQ Index Watches & Jewelry 2017 by L2 Intelligence, released in February. While a return to growth in the fourth quarter 2016 has engendered optimism about 2017, the report says the performance divergence between online and offline channels is growing and can no longer be ignored.

“Holiday sales at brick and mortar were disappointing, but digital sales were robust—online jewelry sales were up double digits and Amazon sold a watch every 1.5 seconds,” says the report. It cites that 75% of all luxury sales are influenced by online digital touch points, noting that more brands are using features that facilitate product discovery from search and cross-selling tactics to quick view functionality and customization options.

The study also reveals that as Instagram’s user base grows, it continues to dominate user engagement among social platforms for watches and jewelry. Instagram captured 83% of total interactions in the past year, surpassing 16% for Facebook and 1% for Twitter. But when YouTube views are added to the mix, it commands 78% of total interactions generated (18% for Instagram, 4% for Facebook and 0% for Twitter). Moreover, mobile sites are outpacing apps, with mobile web audiences three times as large and growing twice as fast as app.

Content is King
Marketers must communicate using the media channels their customers use in order to reach them, especially the younger generation.

“The most important thing brick and mortar retailers must do is to invest in their digital presence,” emphasizes Roberta Naas, veteran watch and jewelry journalist and founder of “Find out where your customers are and what excites them.”

Naas hails content king in engaging customers and distinguishing a business. To help with what can be an intimidating task for jewelers, there are services that can create and publish social media posts, says Naas, who offers a syndicated watch blog (thewatchblog).

The best way to engage consumers is through content creation with the product, the hero, and real people involved, describes Samantha Barker, public relations and social media coordinator for Citizen in New York. “Either brand produced videos and shots showing watches worn by real people or through re-posting and re-gramming user generated content submitted by brand fans. This is true across the board on social, digital advertising, and point of sale. The direct link to the product and real person or situation allows for that strong connection.”

Storytelling is a powerful tool to engage and develop relationships with consumers, says Susan Chandler, senior vice president merchandising, design and development of Bulova, New York. “In 2016, we launched ‘A History of Firsts’ campaign that takes inspiration from Bulova’s rich history of industry firsts using real families, people, and relationships, and brings them to life with words and pictures that speak to our consumers. The campaign will live on in 2017 and beyond to celebrate our pioneering spirit with our audience’s own special firsts.”

Seiko, too, uses leaders in their field to tell stories, like its My Style My Seiko campaign with brand ambassador Jimmie Johnson, the most successful racecar driver in the last 14 years of NASCAR.

Carol Besler, veteran watch and jewelry journalist and founder of the blog, notes that while social media is critical, jewelers can have a big impact by consolidating their marketing efforts with a custom in-house magazine. “You can summarize your in-store events, social media moments, best products and designer interviews, with photo spreads in one beautiful package. People keep a glossy magazine around for a while, so they look at it more than once, and that helps to build desire and drive traffic.”

Grassroots Activism
While you need to be accessible on a variety of digital media channels it does not mean you have to be global, reminds Naas. “Be smarter in your region. Your area is where you get the most customers. Be involved in your community.”

Naas laments that many jewelers are not actively and creatively marketing themselves locally. She suggests jewelers create ways to invite the community into their store. “Don’t be afraid to offer a service like a free watch battery change to get people through the doors once a month.”

Barbara Palumbo, watch and jewelry blogger at and recommends hosting in-store watch events to get customers excited about a new brand or new collection.

“Guys tend to respond well to ‘Scotch and Watch’ themed events, but even a “Women, Watches, and Wine” event could turn a female customer on to a world of luxury she may have not considered before,” says Palumbo. She says many brands, with Bulova a great example, are focused on the women’s watch movement. “Speak with a marketing contact at the brands you carry to brainstorm ideas for future events.”

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