MBA Luxury Brand Management

MBA Luxury Brand Management
Class of 2016-2017

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Baselworld 2014

By Pawel Zawisza, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management student 2013-2014, Poland

It’s that time of the year again! When everyone even slightly interested in watches invades a sleepy town in Switzerland, an hour ride from Zurich, in order to discover what outrageously priced watches we will get to enjoy later on in the year! As luxury watches are a very important part in the luxury industry we couldn’t have missed it – some MBA students decided to travel to Baselworld to see what the big fuss about things you wear on your wrist is about!

Did the brands deliver? They sure did! What was striking at first was the innovative designs of some of the pavilions – a heaven for fans of visual merchandising. Omega used a number of screens to showcase their brand video, where every object was constructed using the watch movements – people on the streets, boats, cars, even the solar system – all that nicely tied to ‘Omega universe’ the brand was trying to project. Opposite Omega Breitling had a live aquarium filled with fish, or maybe just really good digital screen!

Two Japanese brands – Seiko & Citizen – decided to showcase their products in a very different manner. Seiko attracted a large crowd with a public demonstration by a master engraver, who demonstrated in front of a live audience how to engrave the back of the watch. Citizen, meanwhile, created a stunning installation by hanging thousands of watch movements high up in the ceiling, creating an illusion of stars!

But in my opinion nothing could beat what Charriol presented to its audience. A brand I didn’t know much about, Charriol was located on a jewellery floor, where the traffic was lighter than in the main watch area. Their booth, however, was something one had to experience. Starting with a smoke ‘wall’ that acted as a screen for images projected on it, to innovative use of touch screens to showcase the product – the booth was a perfect combination of fun, digital, and visual merchandising.

In terms of product, I was disappointed by lack of Richemont brands, who instead exhibited in Geneva in SIHH in January. Since Baselworld sees more than 100 000 visitors over a few days one would think the company would want such exposure. Then again, the show was a testament to the power of the Swatch group, with brands like Breguet, Omega, and Glashütte Original with booths in the prime location right in front of the main entrance… Surprisingly, LVMH brands ‘beat’ them in a race to the main door – TAG Heuer, Zenith, Bulgari and Hublot were the very first brands one saw upon entering the main hall.

It was my first visit to Baselworld, and, as someone who is interested in watches, it was surely a memorable experience – to see all the different pavilions, as well as see all the new watches. The day couldn’t have been better! See you next year, Basel!