Jens Fabian Herdieckerhoff
Former Marketing Director at Richemont, IWC Schaffhausen
Fabian has over 20 years experience marketing luxury watches. He started his career as a product manager in Germany for Cartier before moving to Richemont when the company purchased luxury watchmaker IWC in 2001. At Richemont, Fabian was the Marketing Director for IWC where he was responsible for the international marketing strategy over 7 years. He then spent 2 years running Burberry Watches at the Fossil Group and is now a luxury market consultant. Read moreView Profile Page
In terms of if you look at the consumer brands, they will study their consumer and they will give them names. This is Kathy, she’s a 45-year-old mother, she has two kids, she buys this product because she wants to feel like X, Y, Z. If the luxury space on the whole is driven more by the product and the product identity, how do you build a message to market the product to the consumers that you don’t necessarily study in detail?
That goes down to the storytelling aspect. There is the product but then you need to have a story around it. You need to fill it with life and emotion. Depending on what the story is, that will strike a chord with different types of people. Basically, you see we created some worlds. Of course, it’s obvious for pilots to have the world of aviation, but we are upgrading the story with collaborations with Antoine de Saint-Exupery Foundation, which is an incredibly famous French author who was also a pilot. We took over a lot of his stories. We made limited editions in honor to his exploits. We really created a story and an emotion around it.
That’s helpful at the point of sale because it sells stuff, can tell potential customers about more than just the product, about the whole world that comes with it. For diving watches, we created a partnership with the Cousteau Foundation. There was a whole story about saving the oceans, about discovering the underwater world. For the engineer series there was a collaboration with Mercedes AMG, so it was all about the technology, racing, high-end materials. The stories can be very different according to each product line. You just have to make sure they’re clearly segmented. That each product has their own world, their own story around it. That’s how you emotionalize each product line and give it on top of the credibility and quality that’s a given, you give it more of an emotional feeling, touch, very important in luxury.
That also aligns completely with this technical engineering focused product identity that you said IWC has.
That’s a basis, that has to be there. If you just have a story but you don’t have the foundation beyond it, that won’t work in luxury. You can add the emotional bit as the icing on the cake on top, but the product itself has to be perfect, quality has to be perfect. All of that has to be a given, that has to be in place. Then on top, you add the marketing, the stories, the emotional bit. If you just have the emotional bit and the product breaks down every two weeks, then you’re not going to be successful. People have to be reassured that they’re buying a great product, but it also has a story to tell. One, the story won’t work without the product being approachable.
How exactly did approach telling the story, take the aviation world for example that you mentioned?
Basically, the brand decided to focus on one product line each year. That was relaunch, a new product, the two series. You don’t relaunch a classic every year, you just add onto it. You make some variations because what’s really important is that a pilot’s watch remains a pilot’s watch and doesn’t look old after a year because the new model has come out. It’s a bit like a Porsche 911, even if it develops over the years, it’s always a Porsche 911. Even if your Porsche is five years old, you don’t feel as if you’re driving an old car. You just have a vintage piece, which might even be more valuable than the one that just came out. That’s really important to keep that continuity. That being said, around that product line, we created a package. When pilots’ watches were relaunched, it started out with the fair good at the SIHH watch fair in Geneva, which was completely themed to the topic, themed to the story. All the way down to the giveaways for clients and consumers, all printed materials, a big event themed to the topic, to invite the buyers and the press. Of course, the press kits, online, printed materials, books, movies. Everything was aligned to the theme. One big theme per year and everything coordinated. That was really key.