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At the mention of watch-manufacturing firms, two companieseasily come to mind, Rolex and Hublot. Both, Rolex and Hublot are Swiss companies based in Geneva and Nyon, Switzerland respectively, a country whose economy was once driven by the watch-manufacturing industry. But into the 2010’s, this trend has shifted for the worst. The global demand for wrist watches and chronographs has significantly declined a fact that can be credited to the growth of the smartphone industry.
Although there are still numerous opportunities that the watch-manufacturing industry has not ventured into, there is the promise that with efficient use of marketing strategies, the industry, especially these two companies, will be able to reach and tap into new markets. With the advent of the digital age, marketing has also evolved and is being conducted on digital platforms. How then can these two companies effectively use digital marketing strategies? This essay thus presents an analysis of the digital marketing strategies employed by Hublot and Rolex.
Before analyzing the digital marketing strategies it is important to first understand the dynamics of the watch-manufacturing industry i.e. the opportunities and threats and from these draw the marketing strategies. As stated earlier, the major challenge facing this industry is the growth of the smartphone industry. People are nowadays conveniently checking time on their phones leading to a decrease in the demand of watches. Smartphone companies such as Apple and Samsung have also introduced compatible smartwatches to be used with their phones further worsening the demand for luxury time pieces(Quora.com, 2016). Smartwatches continue to give luxury watches a run for their money as they are bundled up with more features that ordinary watches do not have.
Luxury watches are also facing stiff competition from the jewelry industry. Though luxury watches are mostly used as high-end fashion accessories rather than to tell time, they are facing competition from jewelry that continue to be innovative and offer more appeal to their customers. The customization features that jewelry offers is unrivalled by luxury watches and as such the latter continues to lag behind. The cost of manufacturing luxury watches has also risen steadily over the years accounting for the exorbitant prices these companies charge their customers for their products. The playing field is therefore not level as smartphone companies continue to manufacture their products at relatively lower prices. In order to survive the digital age some luxury watches companies such as Tag Heuer have partnered with tech giants, Intel and Google, to produce luxury smartwatches(Quora.com, 2016).
In spite of the numerous challenges that this industry is facing, there are numerous opportunities that it can pursue. Partnering with tech giants is a good example that might bring good tidings to the industry(Ryan and Jones, 2011). Luxury watch makers can also pursue millennials who have continued to remain indifferent to their products. Customization of watches to meet the specific tastes and preferences of millennials can bring them on board as potential customers.
Founded in 1905 in London, United Kingdom by Alfred Davis and Han Wilsdorf, Rolex has grown to become synonymous with premier luxury watch-manufacturing company(Rolex, 2016). With an estimated revenue of US$7.7 billion and a production of close to 2,000 watches daily, the company is undoubtedly the leading luxury watch manufacturer. The company is privately owned by Hans Wilsdorffoundation(Rolex, 2016). The company employs more than 2, 800 employeesand boasts of more than a dozen watch designs.
Being at the pinnacle of the watch industry, Rolex enjoys some opportunities and some threats that pose a challenge to its profitability. Below is an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats that the company faces
Due to its long duration of operations, the company enjoys a wide global network of distribution and sales centers. The company also has an established domestic market which boosts its international sales. The company has also strategically positioned itself as a private companyto enjoy grants and other financial incentives from the government(MBA Skool-Study.Learn.Share., 2016).
The predominant weaknesses that the company has is its tax structure. Rolex operates on a global market and as such it pays taxes to the governments of every country it operates in. For a multinational company, it also has comparatively small business units(MBA Skool-Study.Learn.Share., 2016).
The company continues to engineer new timepieces and set trends for other companies in the industry to emulate. The company is also positioning itself to attract new markets especially the millennial segment of the population. The company also enjoys a steady income from its trading activities(MBA Skool-Study.Learn.Share., 2016).
The company was once considered a monopoly in the high-end watch-manufacturing industry but over the years this has changed with the entry of other companies such as Hublot, Breitling SA, Panerai and Omega SA. The growth of the smartwatches industry has also continue to be a thorn in the profitability of the company. Other business risks such as fluctuation of interest risks and increasing cost of raw materials also threaten the success of Rolex.
Compared to other watch-making companies, Hublot is a rather new company. It was created in 1980 by Carlo Crocco, an Italian, who had left Breil Watches to concentrate on his own design(Hublot.com, 2016). The company has grown in a short span of time to catch up with other leading manufacturers such as Rolex. It has more than 50 stores globally strategically located in every continent. In 2008, the company was acquired by LVMH, a French luxury goods group for an undisclosed fee(Hublot.com, 2016).
As a comparatively new business, Hublot enjoys some opportunities over its competitors while the same competitors continue to pose a threat to its operations and profitability. The SWOT framework analyzes these opportunities and threats below.
Hublot is revered for incorporating innovative materials into its design. Its scratch resistant Magic Gold continues to be a force to reckon with globally. Its association with its parent company LVMH gives it a competitive edge that it could not have enjoyed on its own. It has also endeared itself to its market by sponsoring many events and being the official timekeeper for numerous sports events(MBA Skool-Study.Learn.Share., 2016).
The company and its brand does not have a strong presence in the market and its aggressive advertising have only increased on the operating expenses of the market.
The opening of boutiques that sell its merchandise all over the world can increase the company’s market share and double or even triple its revenues. The presence of the company in developing countries has also improved its sales(MBA Skool-Study.Learn.Share., 2016).
Similar to Rolex, Hublot and many other watch-manufacturing companies face a stiff competition from smart watches. The company also face competition internally in the industry from other manufacturers such as Zenith and Cartier. The presence of counterfeit and fake watches bearing its name in the market have also tarnished its brand image(MBA Skool-Study.Learn.Share., 2016).
Comparing the Digital Marketing Strategies used by Hublot and Rolex.
Both companies, Rolex and Hublot have a strong online presence and continue to interact with their customers on social media platforms and marketing their products(Libert, 2015). Both the companies websites offer detailed information about their products including their prices and their points of sale scattered all over the world. Hublot is setting up a new website which will be dedicated on promoting its brand culture and products. The website will give consumers an in-depth look at the timepieces. It will have numerous product videos and blogs from both the company and other customers about their experience with the product.
How then do Rolex and Hublot get their customers to visit their websites and get this information?Rolex and Hublot employ Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques and direct traffic from their social media pages to their websites. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the technique of making one’s website visible on search engine searches without necessarily paying to the search engine. With SEO, the marketing team ensures that their website is among the top unpaid results(Libert, 2015).
Market Positioning andDifferentiation
Market positioning and differentiation are two very critical elements in any market strategy. Market or product differentiation is the process of distinguishing one’s product from similar product in the market(Chaffey et al., 2014). It may involve adding on features onto the product to separate it from the rest.Market or brand positioning entails introducing your product into the market and securing a spot or position for the brand in the market(Chaffey et al., 2014). Positioning will involve any attempts to endear the product to the market.
Rolex differentiates its timepieces as high-end luxury products that resonate with the rich and famous. They take time to manufacture their products and customize them to the specific tastes and preferences of the wealthy(Rolex, 2016). For example, most watches manufactured by Rolex are water resistant, a feature that is not common in the market. They are usually highly priced but they are worth it. They are sophisticated yet elegant and give you value for your money(Rolex, 2016).Rolex has thus positioned itself in the highest tier of the market segment i.e. the market for the rich.
On the other hand, Hublot continues to manufacture exquisite time pieces that can also be enjoyed by the middle and low income earners in the society. Hublot, compared to Rolex, uses cheaper raw materials to manufacture its products, explaining their relatively cheaper prices. They are also setting up shop in developing countries to give them a taste of the developed world at friendly prices.
Use of Social Media Platforms.
As stated earlier on, both companies have a strong online presence in social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus. However, it is with no doubt that Rolex has a greater command in these platforms compared to Hublot. For example, Hublot has only 1.18 million follower on Facebook compared to Rolex’s 5.5 million. The use of these platforms is however comparatively similar as they use them to interact with their customers.
They frequently hold Q&A sessions where they get to answer the queries of their customers and receive suggestions. They also share photos of their brand ambassadors who use their photos. For example, Hublot’s Facebook page has numerous pictures of Kobe Bryant, an American Basketball player, wearing their chronographs. They also use these platforms to direct traffic to their websites. This is achieved by the use of shortened links to their websites.
Paid and Earned Media
YouTube, the video-sharing website, is an example where both Hublot and Rolex conduct paid media(Patel, 2015). The companies share videos of their products on the websitewhich have embedded links that direct clients to their websites. They also pay Google, the owner of YouTube, to advertise on their behalf on the website. The paid ads are usually in the form of short videos that play before the YouTube users watches the intended video(Patel, 2015). Examples of earned media that the two companies used is the traffic generated to their websites from social media platforms.
The late decrease in the interest of Swiss watches is unquestionably a matter of worry since it is the main thrust of the general business economy of the nation. This drop sought after has likewise influenced famous brands like Hublot and Rolex however that does not infer that their presence is debilitated. It is normal for the clients to dependably search for the techy watches yet at the same time with regards to watches of Rolex and Hublot there can be no contention.
For getting a charge out of the certainty of the clients, these watch creators must make their nearness felt in the online stages alongside aggressive ads of their items in different nations. Additionally, they should attempt to bring out tech savvy watches that can gain the consideration of their clients once more. On the off chance that these driving watch creators endeavor something else then they can secure their driving spot always in the watch business.
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