How do you reach the new generation of watch lovers?
I think there are three elements. The first is how we are building our Montblanc collections, with heritage and true storylines, which are strong and relatable. The second part is the design codes. I believe a lot of people in the younger generation are looking for something strong, but also safe at the same time. In the 1970s, people were more futuristic. I believe today we tend to look back at what was successful in the past. In this segment, it’s more reassuring. These codes, that are strong and recreate successful times, can be appealing to the young generation. It’s also a question of price. Just to come up with a beautiful piece with three hands at a great price is a challenge. We pay attention to the small details, create a great look at a great price, and there isn’t much in this price range. These are the kinds of pieces where the customer needs to say “Wow!”, which is why you have to have a strong design, something unexpected, a design that doesn’t leave you without an opinion.
What are young people looking for today?
I don’t think it’s a question of moving customers from an Apple Watch to a mechanical watch. At the end of the day, you never wear a watch for the main functionality of it. Most of the time, I look at the time on my phone, not my watch. I don’t wear the watch to tell the time, I wear it because I love mechanical products, it tells something about me. I love the design, I love the movement and more. Even though we are becoming more and more digital, I still believe that if you appreciate nicely designed products with their history and craftsmanship, there are so many good reasons why we continue to use these products. You will never stop using your iPhone. I see a complimentary world.
I feel a little like we are preachers. We have to explain why the luxury world is meaningful and relevant. That’s what we have to do. We have to use what they are using, i.e. social networks, to reach them. There is so much to discover, it’s not that they don’t want it, it’s that they don’t know about it. The goal is to be able to connect and exchange. At Montblanc, customers have so many opportunities to discover our products. We are functionality driven, and therefore have so many reasons to interact with the brand – with a pen, a backpack, a fragrance and more.
I do think that people who are introduced to our brand realise that there are other segments that they can explore. Because we are very much segment driven, we have a lot of people who come to us for one segment, then discover the other segments. If they go on the internet, they can see the whole maison.
If you were to give someone advice about offering a watch, what would you say?
I believe personally that a gift is about the receiver. I can only answer this if I know the person who will get the gift. You have to analyze the personality of the person who will receive the gift. We have to think about the benefit to the person. How well do you know your person and what do you know will please him or her? Do you select it because it’s a great design, a great movement, or of great value?