Men remain the core target audience for luxury watches, particularly in the mechanical and digital categories. Globally in 2013, men’s luxury timepieces accounted for a 64 per cent share of sales of overall luxury timepieces, with women’s luxury timepieces accounting for the remaining 36 per cent.
However, women are assuming greater importance in this category for several reasons.
The female population has been growing for several years. Over 2008-2013, the world’s female population grew by 6.5%, slightly higher than the male population. This growth trend is expected to continue over the next five years, with women set to account for close to half the world’s total population by 2018.
While the per capita income of the two genders remains different, it is interesting to note that female average per capita income rose by 15.2 per cent over 2008-2013 compared to 14.8 per cent for male average per capita income. In addition, core countries for watches – China, India and the US – are witnessing an increase in female purchasing power.
The watches category posted slower growth in 2013, particularly in the biggest market, China, despite the fact that the country has a predominantly male population. Therefore, a stronger focus on targeting the growing female population could be seen as the best way forward to expand the category’s audience. However, manufacturers must consider what more they can do to encourage women to spend on a new watch rather than a new Louis Vuitton bag.
DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND
In early 2014, Swatch Group successfully acquired HW Holdings Inc, which owns the brand Harry Winston. The acquisition of Harry Winston will give Swatch Group access to the fine jewelry category while Harry Winston can tap into Swatch’s strong watch making knowledge. Combining the art of fine jewelry with luxury timepieces will allow the group to extend its reach to the female consumer base.
The Chairman of Swatch Group, Nayla Hayek, was quoted as saying “Harry Winston does brilliantly complement the prestige segment of the Group. We are proud and happy to welcome Harry Winston to the Swatch Group family – diamonds are still a girl’s best friend”.
This further confirms the group’s direction of targeting the female consumer.
MAKING WATCHES TO SUIT SMALLER FEMALE WRISTS
Watch manufacturers are increasingly recognizing the importance of women as a potential target group, thus leading to a rise in female-oriented product development. Mechanical watches are made with the objective of squeezing all intricate watch components into a small caliber system. Despite this, the average size of a mechanical watch is still deemed too large for the average female wrist.
To target the female consumer, manufacturers are focusing on developing smaller components to fit into even smaller casings. With strong research and development in this area, Omega was able to launch the Omega Ladymatic, a smaller mechanical watch, in 2010. The model has a 34mm case and appeals to women through its smaller size. The company continued its efforts and in 2013 launched a 27mm case watch, which is probably the smallest mechanical watch in the world.
Another successful example of adapting to the female consumer is a newcomer in watches, Montblanc’s Classique Lady Automatic with a 34mm case. The company claims to have achieved good sales of the watch in 2013. To further reach out to its female consumers, it decided to make a diamond version of the Classique, which retails at double the price of the standard model.
WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS
Women are known to behave differently to men, especially when it comes to their shopping habits. While many manufacturers are making an effort to make their watches physically more appealing to women, size and diamonds are not the only way to attract the female consumer.
Marketers need to find a balance between functionality, fashion and lifestyle as well as appeal to a woman’s emotions. Watch manufacturers need to understand women’s psychological demands and preferences if they are to expand the female consumer base.
The author is the senior personal accessories and eyewear analyst at Euromonitor International