MF: Social media today also is integral to any company’s plans. As you know, IWC was an early pioneer on the Internet with its Collectors’ Forum beginning in 2001. Where will social media move in the future, and how can does it make a difference for IWC?
Christoph Grainger-Herr: There has been a fundamental shift in the way we communicate with our clients. The main aspect is that we are moving away from a traditional broadcasting approach, where we speak to our clients once or twice per year via large campaigns, films, ads, or printed catalogues, to the much more instantaneous dialogue on social media. And this makes it possible to receive instant feedback on everything we do. It gives us a different perspective on what the clients like, or what they don’t like.
Essentially, we are able to combine our own creative strategic process with real time customer feedback and hopefully end up making products which are much more adapted to what clients are asking for. I consider social media a very powerful tool to have an interactive, personal relationship with our clients, and not just broadcasting messages in one direction.
MF: IWC appears to have today diverse target markets and different watches. Is this a market advantage? Does the breadth of product line reflect new marketing strategies, including social media?
Christoph Grainger-Herr: We need to respect that markets have their unique characteristics. While there is one global umbrella strategy which is valid everywhere, you also have to localize your product strategy.
In Western Europe or North America, for example, people may be more into bigger sports watches. In the Chinese market, on the other hand, there is a strong emphasis on smaller diameter watches which are slightly more elegant and classic. While the perception of IWC in a typical Western market may still be the “Engineered for men” style tool watch with Porsche design era materials like Titanium, the perception in some Asian markets, where IWC has been established much more recently, is somewhat warmer and more luxurious.
As a brand, we need to reflect these different realities. This is why we try to offer a complete and diverse product portfolio.
MF: It seems that IWC is producing more pieces in the “affordable price” ranges and also more watches that are classic in design and somewhat smaller in diameter. Are these impressions correct? If so, what is the underlying thinking?
Christoph Grainger-Herr: I think it’s important to cater to a wide range of price points, because people progress in life, and so do their spending habits. IWC is not a lifetime achievement watch, but a watch for people who are on their way. You celebrate your first big job, your first bonus, you can start with a Portofino Automatic or a Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII. And then, as you progress, you can move on to a Portugieser Automatic and beyond. It is also a correct observation that our portfolio is moving more into the classic and elegant range.
Even though large and sporty design expressions are still appreciated, the gravitational point of the market currently is more in the classic and elegant field. This is also why we re-launched the Ingenieur into a slightly more elegant direction. That of course doesn’t mean the Ingenieur will forever be a classic watch. But it’s just how we make sure to stay relevant and fresh in the current context of the market.