Ever since Daniel Wellington came into the market in 2011, there has been a swarm of Fashion watch brands around the world.
A young man was backpacking in Australia when he met an elderly English gentleman, a dapper gent, a man with an impeccable taste for vintage watches — so the story goes. His name was Daniel Wellington, the man of course. The founder of Daniel Wellington, Filip Tysander got the idea to start his own line of watches from this man and so in 2011, the Daniel Wellington brand was born. Around the same time, three friends — Sean, Aaron & Tim moved to China to start making their own products. It would only be some time until Vincero watches were born though. A couple of years on there were two college kids in America who had become frustrated with how much it cost to get a quality timepiece so they dropped out of school to start their own watch brand, MVMT (it’s pretty weird to quit school over the lack of access to a quality watch if you ask me, they’re rich now so that doesn’t really matter).
Nevertheless, across the world, another college student and his friends had also decided to start their own watch brand, Artjem Weissbeck of Kapten & Son (Man there are a lot of these guys). And then another one came about with a unique selling proposition, The 5th watches, a watch brand that only sells their watches on the fifth of every month for five days (people must die from anxiety).
My fascination with this is how each of these brands has become so successful and how people have been so drawn to them — all at once. In the world of fashion watches, it’s not a winner takes all situation, they each co-exist in their different parts of the world, yes some overlap but each seems to be a $100 million brand at least. This would not be possible without the age of social media influencers, Instagram and most importantly, growth marketing. Try and search one of these brands I promise your online life will be consumed by minimalistic quartz movement watches.
I want to dive deeper into what made these brands uber-successful.
Let’s begin with the King…
In 2018 DW made $230 million in sales and profit of $111 million in 2018 (fact check me, I’m dead serious, that’s insane). This is on one of the most successful influencer-driven brands ever. Even to the point of receiving the most influencer mentions out of any brand on Instagram, 20 000 mentions by 7 200 influencers. In comparison, Nike had less than 10% of that exposure. It is not up for question whether DW is atop of the food chain when it comes to fashion watch brands, thats a given; how they got there is a combination of various factors. 1. Time in the market, they had first mover’s advantage. 2. Cracking influencer marketing. 3. Omni-channel retail gave them far more legitimacy than other brands, who would have thought brick-and-mortar was advantageous.
Pronounced movement, a homage to the actual quartz display you see on the watch. Another brand that followed the “selling a lifestyle” offering. Started in 2013 by two college dropouts Jake Kassan and Kramer LaPlante after being frustrated about the price of quality watches (again weird reason to drop out of school). They successfully launched a crowding funding campaign on Indiegogo raising $290 000 on two campaigns to start MVMT. They sort to bring quality at a lower price (a bit of controversy there if you do a quick search of the company watches on uncle Jack Ma’s site you will see). For a 5 year period the company soared and was eventually sold to Movado for $100 million, not bad for two gents who dropped out of college over the price of a watch. What made this brand successful was also a combination of things. 1. Insane growth marketing, they feed you ads like you a newborn baby. 2. Influencer marketing (#joinTheMVMT). 3. Podcast marketing.
The lesser-known out of the 5 brands, Vincero doesn’t necessarily sell a luxurious lifestyle like DW or a community like MVMT. They tell you upfront that they exist to sell well-crafted timepieces at affordable prices. That’ s pretty much on them, nothing more, nothing less. What made them successful was just beating the others on ‘quality’, they are a product of their environment.
Kapten & Son
The German brand with a Swedish name made in .. you can finish that. I actually like Kapten & Son, they have that summer vibe about them. Even though they started a watch brand, Kapten & Son has differentiated themselves with the move into backpacks. But essentially the model is the same for this brand as others — Heavy exposure on Instagram. Kapten . & Son is more like DW than any of the other brands, selling a lifestyle through a product with a more vibey summer/winter aesthetics to it. The success is derived from 1. Influencer marketing. 2. Expanding the brand into new markets very quickly. The founder, Artjem Weissbeck is looking to take on another challenge with a new fashion D2C start-up called Charles.