Snaking queues emerged globally as Swatch and OMEGA announced the release of their BIOCERAMIC MoonSwatch collection over the weekend. The Series 11 collection pays homage to the planets and was priced affordably at US$258. This new collaboration gives a facelift to OMEGA’s iconic Speedmaster Moonwatch, which retails for a minimum of US$6,600.
The launch of the watches saw consumers lining up in the early morning hours not only in Singapore, but in markets such as Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and many more. The global frenzy has prompted Swatch to issue a statement on its website that watches will be limited to one watch per person until further notice, again emphasizing that this is not a limited edition collection and that the watches will be available in select Swatch stores for the next few weeks.
The collaboration comes as the Swatch Group, which oversees 17 brands including OMEGA, has struggled in recent years with global sales in the watch and fine jewelry industries heavily impacted due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, e-commerce has certainly been a buffer for the company which has reduced its retail network by 22% due to movement constraints.
Still, if the weekend crowds were any indication for the brand, it’s clear the collaboration has revived its outlets. In fact, in its 2021 financials, the group said it expects double-digit local currency sales growth in 2022 “provided by many, sometimes spectacular, new releases from brands across all segments.”
Spectacular, indeed. Industry players INTERACTIVE-MARKETING spoke to say that this move is not only a great way to increase short-term sales for the Swatch Group, but also introduces a new consumer segment for OMEGA.
The idea of two brands collaborating especially in the fashion and luxury industry is not new, and in recent years it has accelerated. More recently, Gucci teamed up with sister brand Balenciaga for ‘The Hacker Project’, a collection that ‘hacked’ designs from each brand’s iconic pieces. Other examples include Tiffany and Supreme, Nike Air Jordan and Dior.
In the watch industry, we have also recently seen Hublot and Murakami team up, while John Mayer and Gshock have also signed a collaboration. In a conversation with INTERACTIVE-MARKETINGManaging Director of Carousell Hong Kong, Kevin Huang, who is also a watch enthusiast, said what made the success of the OMEGA x Swatch, also known as MoonSwatch, so great was because two iconic brands with a deep history and a huge fan base coming together to deliver something fun, accessible and affordable to the masses.
“Swatch was largely responsible for revitalizing the Swiss quartz watch crisis of the 70s and became a fashion icon in the 80s and 90s, while the OMEGA Moonwatch is a historic and iconic timepiece that is well went to the moon,” Huang said. As such, this collaboration has hit the sweet spot of reaching a target customer base of both brands that spans multiple age groups. It also targets a large group of customers who grew up with the Swatch brand, but have grown out of it and are now in the luxury segment like OMEGA.
“For many in my age group, with the MoonSwatch, I can relive the joys of owning a Swatch watch during my teenage years while satisfying my need for a luxury watch. For first-time buyers, the MoonSwatch is a first taste of the Moonwatch and hopefully inspires them to aspire to own the OMEGA Moonwatch at a later stage,” Huang said.
Get the right buzz
Another reason the collaboration was so successful is the way the attention was hijacked by two fans from different brands, explained VJ Anand, Managing Partner of VaynerMedia APAC. Anand, who says he is passionate about street wear, said collaboration is still an important aspect of pop culture and the world of sneakers. However, collaborations in the watch industry – such as Hublot and Murakami and John Mayer with G-Shock – have not always created as much buzz as they do today. He said:
The attention from these diverse fans gathered together is what created the buzz and what is odd is that OMEGA and Swatch are not the hottest brands.
“The moonwatch is a pretty iconic watch, but collaborating with sister company Swatch and creating an entry-level price tag was probably a smart product and marketing idea – as much as luxury watch fans might hate it,” said said Anand.
Anand added that brands today have the power to create buzz and create products that consumers and fans can go crazy for. However, with that power comes the responsibility to cast it the right way and make sure the real collectors and fans get it.
“Give people something fresh, new and something to brag about. The launch was popular because no one has ever taken a luxury watch and created an entry-level version of the watch. What Swatch and OMEGA have done well about this is that this is a general release and not a limited edition, so more fans and collectors will get their hands on these cool watches,” Anand said.
He added that Swatch must now turn this incident into a “gateway drug” and pump out more watches to give everyone a chance to own the watch.
“Some of the people who get this will eventually upgrade to an OMEGA Moon Watch. It might make sense to target a younger audience and move them up the chain. Own the future,” he said.
When luxury meets mass
Erica Kerner, currently CMO of SailGP, who has experience in luxury working with Tiffany & Co. Asia Pacific and Ralph Lauren, said such collaborations are great for the luxury industry, but it is essential to remembering the story being told and bringing value to each other by introducing new consumer groups, generating media value or building brand buzz.
“There are so many collaborations going on right now that it’s critical that they bring something special to go through,” Kerner said.
“Watch collectors are a bit like ‘sneakerheads’ – style is hugely meaningful. This collaboration was a way to introduce OMEGA to a whole new consumer who perhaps aspired to own one but did not yet have the resources,” she added.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that brand collaborations shouldn’t just be transactional in nature, but also raise brand equity for long-term financial gains.
Branding expert Ambrish Chaudhry, managing director of Superunion Singapore, India and Indonesia, added that beyond the stunt as a boost for Swatch, it is also a reminder of how prestigious OMEGA is. However, it is a dangerous game to play, he warned.
“Brand equity is like a bank account. You may occasionally make short-term withdrawals, but you can’t see that as a healthy trend for OMEGA,” he added.
Dominique Touchaud, CMO of Shokunin Marketing and director of global advertising for Swatch from 2001 to 2003, added that brand collaborations and cross-IPs have become a very common item in the marketing toolbox and a very solid method to market. a mark if done correctly. .
However, he likened the collaboration to “if Ferrari and Fiat produced a model together”.
“In a word, I don’t understand this collaboration. It will sell, that’s for sure. People line up at the doors of Swatch stores in a way that hasn’t been seen in decades and thousands of watches will be sold. But what will Omega get out of it and what will be the impact on both brands going forward,” he asked.
Touchaud added that the concept of luxury is more elusive than most recognize and is instead the result of perceived added value. He said:
This collection is a lesser Omega, without being a better Swatch. The models are essentially Omega replicas made of ‘Swatch’ bioceramics and equipped with quartz mechanics.
“There’s no hip or cool factor for an Omega fan to have a cheaper version. It might be fun enough for a non-buyer to get something that looks like a Moonwatch, but you can finally afford,” he said. However, Touchaud says that won’t entice them to buy a Speedmaster.
“It’s as if buying a Rolex on the gray market 30 years ago didn’t lead you to buying a Rolex in a store when/if you could finally buy yourself one. The magic was gone. It took Rolex years of stubborn fight against replicas to put an end to this “accessibility” scam. Omega’s marketers create the replica themselves and brand them – the logic escapes my reasoning,” he said.
Since the product is not a limited edition, Touchaud says that will keep it out of the collector’s box. Moreover, the value – despite being sold on resale platforms now at exorbitant prices – might not increase over time.
“I remember when we launched a Swatch Square ‘Reverso’. It was clearly a “friendly/respectful jab” at the Jaeger Lecoultre icon and it made people smile (and buy). A provocation to luxury watches is what Swatch had become known for. And it was redefining what luxury meant. Swatch has always pushed for individual expression of style and personality,” he said. Meanwhile, luxury brands such as Omega must create extreme desirability through exclusivity and craftsmanship.
“In launching this collaboration, I feel that both brands have overlooked the aspirations of their consumers without generating enough interest from an unengaged audience. What will come next? A Swatch ‘Breguet’ or a Swatch ‘Rado’?
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