How to sell a luxury watch in a recession?
Published Friday, July 24, 2009 by Harry SK Tan |
"Distract the wife, avoid talk of price... sell the romance, the emotion"
The Wall Street Journal just published a revealing article on how a consultant was hired to train IWC salesmen to sell their watches to walk in customers at their boutiques. It was reported that sales fell by 42% in the US in May compared to same month the year before. This caused some brands to relook at how they are selling their watches and in the case of IWC, retraining their staff was one of the strategies.
The method that the consultant uses is to get the sales staff to distract the wife, avoid the talk of price and speak of value instead. Instead of discounts, monogrammed gifts such as mugs and umbrellas are given instead. At the same time, sales staff are to raise their performance levels because there is " the need for better, more thoughtful service that makes the customer sense caring and quality —the stuff of luxury."
Such techniques of sales staff are not new, especially to the regulars and to seasoned collectors and observers of the industry. In recent years watch marketing agencies and brands had been selling luxury lifestyle rather than true horological achievements. It seems rather insincere that the need for better luxury service is heightened during recessionary times. Collectors have long memories and many had to suffer the poor service of brands whose watches are selling faster than supply - during the good times.
Serious collectors who had been collecting watches for some years would have learnt quickly to ignore all the advertising and marketing efforts by the brands - and approach the buying of a watch without all the hubris. Even before they step into a watch retailer, some basic research would have been done. In fact, the strategy of collectors is the direct opposite to the consultant's purpose. Be clinical, buy without being emotional and understand what the prices are and whether they are reflective of the street prices and discounts available.
Unfortunately, its the first time buyer that would be ensnared by the clever web that the salesmen weave. With the Internet so freely available for basic research online, it would be either a fool who walks in to a boutique and makes an impulse purchase without first making any research - or one that is so well endowed with wealth that it does not matter that one is paying high street prices without any effort to understand what is being purchased.