We all know Baselworld — the yearly watch and jewelry fair organized in the Swiss city of Basel, where all the excited watch and jewelry enthusiasts from all over the world come together to see the latest releases and do business. Recently, however, the excitement has died down and Baselworld has reportedly seen a decline in visitors as well as exhibitors. The amount of exhibitors has seen a decline from 1300 in 2017 to half of that, 650 in 2018. Besides the Whole Swatch Group pulling out, a few of the latest big brands to pull out are Corum and de Grisogono. By the way, the Swatch group includes brands such as Omega, Breguet, Longines, Jaquet Droz, and Blancpain, just to name a few. Therefore the whole Swatch Group pulling out is a big, fucking, deal.
Allow me to postulate the problem:
Baselworld is not taking the responsibility it could.
For a brand that is perceived to unite the Swiss watch world and keep it together, it is not exactly the best PR that things are happening to Baselworld, and not at it. But all hope is not lost and some decisive and smart moves by the direction could still make it right. To help that along, I’d like to ask: What can Baselworld learn from Invicta?
Yes, you read that right. Invicta, the watch company that was founded in 1837 in Switzerland and went bankrupt during the quartz crisis, but was later revived by an American company that bought the rights to the brand. In the process, Invicta became sort of like Bane from the 1989’s Batman.
Why I even bring Invicta up
While looking into the most popular questions that people ask Google about watches, it caught my eye that, 6 out of the top 20 questions that Americans ask Google every day are related to Invicta. This means that more people are asking Google “Are Invicta watches good?” than people asking “How much do Rolex watches cost?”.
When I first saw these results I didn’t even know what Invicta was. Only after researching into the brand and how they do what they do, did it start to dawn on me.
Invicta is not a big deal in the mainstream watch world as we know it, but they do have managed to foster a strong and devoted client base and even more importantly — image. Let’s analyze what they do, how they do it and what Baselworld could learn from it.
Invicta Customer Journey
Let’s take a look at a recent event that Invicta organized. This annual cruise took place on a cruise ship, fully occupied by Invicta customers, fans and collectors. I do not know the details or conditions of attending, but what can be seen the pictures is enough.
Invicta offers its customers the privilege to attend the big annual party on a cruise ship.
They physically remove the customers from any and all distractions and alternative opportunities of choice. It gives the brand absolutely free reign on the customers’ psyche (by the way, the military forces around the world use the same technique).
At the same time, these people likely have no idea that they are in a well-prepared marketing funnel, but are having the time of their lives. Most likely the biggest party of the year. Perhaps even the biggest party of their lives?
Invicta establishes the stars of the show.
Between all the celebrations, merch giveaways, watch presentations and games, all of the focus of the party is turned on collectors. The collectors that sport tables full of watches are portrayed as the stars of the show. Who knows if these collectors are real or actors.
The collectors get love-bombed, given sweet attention, praise, and honor that leaves every bystander consciously or unconsciously thinking:
“… maybe if I show up with all these Invicta watches next year, I will also be the star of the show!”
Lucky them: their golden opportunity presents itself year-round in the form of acquiring new Invicta watches.
It is clear that Invicta is not just a watch brand. They do not sell just watches. They sell community, fun and mating opportunities. This is not rocket science. It’s very primal. They literally cater to the reptilian brain. They know exactly who their target market is and how to reach them. The pillars that the marketing teams of the well-established Swiss brands stand on are not that different — albeit a bit more dignified.
When I worked with glamorous nightlife institutions in Hong Kong, we used the same technique to acquire wealthy customers and converted them into patrons. We knew that it would be unwise to approach our leads directly and ask them to come.
What we did instead, was create an environment that is rich in what they want — Beautiful women, glamour, and the ability to flex elegantly. It’s technically the exact same thing — community, fun and mating opportunities. And boy did it work…
For the human brain to easily adapt to these concepts, you must add one more factor, this factor is a social hierarchy. If the social hierarchy is well defined, women know and understand the situation and feel safe and stay. Men, on the other hand, know the rules to play by if they want to succeed. If the social hierarchy is not well defined, it breeds confusion and conflict. If nobody is in charge and making it clear, then there is no order and people scatter. Chaos is bound to appear, only to establish that order naturally and most primally. That is something you want to keep in mind whenever creating or hosting a social event.
Coming back to Baselworld
It seems that Baselworld is not in charge of Baselworld — it is shifting the responsibility to the watch brands and hoping that the reputation of the watch brands alone will sail them to the shore. At the same time, the watch brands are looking at Capt. Baselworld with a rather skeptical eye. Even if the older and wiser brands say they fully support Baselworld, I’m sure it’s not a very harmonious relationship behind closed curtains.
Nobody wants to be remembered as the brand that killed Baselworld.
– Jean-Claude Biver, president of LVMH Watch Division.
Baselworld is a 102-year-old Swiss Icon and still a strong brand that must be nurtured. And of course, it can be hard to see the birds-eye view for people running Baselworld now.
Baselworld and Invicta are greatly different brands and companies, but that doesn’t mean that the means to success must be worlds apart. Their customers are people and or companies— with problems, hopes, wishes, desires, and aims of their own. If a brand can figure out how to help the customer in these areas, they’ve won. What connects them is a similar playing-field and a yearly event that gives them opportunities to really connect with their customers. Whether, if, and how they use it — is where the dog lies buried.
To end this article, I will leave some food for thought in the form of a question.
If Invicta is selling community, fun, and mating opportunities, then what is Baselworld selling that the Swiss watch brands themselves already aren’t?
Baselworld 2019 had 81,200 visitors, 3,300 press attendees, and 520 exhibitors
For 2020 and beyond Baselworld’s new direction under Loris-Melikoff is planning VIP and collector areas, a continued state-of-the-art press area, and events and services for consumers including digital, e-commerce, talks, and shows, which is already moving in the direction I’m talking about
I wrote answers to the most popular questions regarding Invicta watches in this post.
Even though Invicta means “invincible” in Latin, the 10th most-Googled phrase related to watches in America remains “Invicta watch repair”
Written by KristjanMark.com
I have not gone to either Baselworld or Invicta events and am in not in any way affiliated with either of the companies. What I am writing is my personal opinion from the standpoint of a media consumer.