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How to Build Your Own Watch Brand: The MVMT Watch Brand Story

In the midst of the Swiss watch crisis, emerging affordable brands with an internet-driven approach are steadily gaining market share. One of the most notable among them is MVMT, recognized by Forbes as the "fastest-growing watch brand globally."

 

MVMT has already sold over two million watches in more than 160 countries and generates annual revenues surpassing one billion USD, boasting an astonishing annual growth rate of up to 400%. In 2018, the Movado Group acquired MVMT for $300 million, and that same year, MVMT contributed $170 million in net income to Movado.

 

But how has MVMT managed to disrupt the affordable watch market, especially when traditional Swiss watchmakers are struggling? How did MVMT outshine classic brands to become a prominent player in the affordable watch industry?

 

Capturing the Market Share in the "Affordable Watch Market" - The Power of the Younger Generation (Gen Z)

Global watch market statistics forecast a significant increase from $62.8 billion in 2021 to $78.2 billion by 2026, with a compound annual growth rate of 4.8% from 2021 to 2026. The watch market can be divided into low-end, mid-range, and high-end segments based on price range.

 

According to NPD Group, the low-end segment is predicted to dominate future watch market growth. This is because low-end watches offer flexibility in pricing, and the market has not yet solidified. In contrast, the mid-to-high-end market, dominated by well-established brands, is less dynamic.

 

Moreover, the younger Generation Z's growing demand for fashion accessories, combined with increased disposable incomes in both developed and developing countries, is a significant driver of global watch market growth.

 

At the same time, traditional Swiss watchmakers are losing market share among younger consumers. In the vibrant streets of youth culture, Swiss watches are less commonly seen, replaced by various electronic watches, smart wearables, or trendy watch brands like MVMT, Daniel Wellington, and others.

 

For the younger generation, the functional aspects of a watch are diminishing in importance. Precision to the second is no longer a crucial factor because they don't rely solely on watches to tell time. Instead, they prioritize the aesthetic appeal and social conversation sparked by their choice of accessories. In their consumer mindset, the fun and social relevance of a watch outweigh its functional aspects and craftsmanship.

 

Disrupting with Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Model

 

On the other hand, the watch market can be divided based on distribution channels into retail stores and online stores. Traditional retail stores have historically dominated the watch market. They allow consumers to try on watches before purchasing, offering personalized service and guidance from sales staff.

 

However, in recent years, the continuous growth of global e-commerce, particularly the Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) model, has provided brands with more accessibility.

 

MVMT's co-founder LaPlante stated, "When it comes to building an affordable brand, recent entrants, including us, are doing things that have never been done in the watch industry. The market now sees the emergence of companies that exclusively sell online and tap into the Gen Z market through social media."

 

Meeting the "Youthful" Demand in Watches

An Idea Born from Debt

 

In 2013, MVMT's co-founders, Kramer and LaPlante, were 21-year-old college students burdened with over $20,000 in debt due to previous failed business investments. As they were about to enter the workforce, they discovered that they couldn't find a stylish and affordable watch to wear for job interviews. At that time, a suit and a watch were the standard attire for graduating students.

 

After conducting market research, they stumbled upon a significant pain point for Generation Z – most people couldn't afford a quality, stylish watch priced between $500 and $1,000. From that moment, Kramer and LaPlante began contemplating the idea of starting a watch company.

 

In their debt-ridden state, Kramer and LaPlante turned to crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, setting an initial fundraising goal of $50,000, and ultimately raised $300,000. At the time, MVMT was the second-highest funded fashion brand on Indiegogo.

 

Success with Pure Online Model

 

Six months after founding MVMT, Kramer and LaPlante realized that many watch companies drastically marked up their prices. They saw an opportunity to deliver products at lower prices if they could cut out the retail middlemen and sell directly to consumers.

 

LaPlante said, "Entering the watch industry, I realized that the expensive watches I had always wanted cost only a fraction of their retail prices to manufacture. These watch brands artificially inflated prices and packaged their products to create an image of luxury and quality."

 

Armed with this industry insight, "Style shouldn't break the bank" became MVMT's tagline. MVMT conveyed a powerful message to its target audience, promising to create watches that were stylish yet affordably priced.

 

MVMT made a bold decision that would disrupt the industry: they abandoned offline retail entirely and invested all their resources into an online and brand-focused approach. LaPlante explained, "MVMT had almost no advantage in traditional retail channels, so we decided to take a chance and allocate all our resources to online sales and brand marketing."

 

The results were remarkable. MVMT's online-only model, compared to traditional retail, allowed them to cultivate a large and loyal following on social media, particularly among Generation Z.

 

In its first year, MVMT generated over $1 million in revenue. By 2015, the brand achieved a staggering 400% year-over-year revenue growth, reaching $30 million. After 2018, MVMT consistently generated annual revenues exceeding $100 million.

 

Digital Omnichannel Marketing

 

Watch industry expert Adams once commented on the success of these new watch brands: "The success of MVMT and Daniel Wellington can be attributed entirely to brand marketing, not the product itself." This implies that brands like MVMT succeeded in outpacing traditional brands due to their innovative digital strategies.

 

Founder LaPlante also admitted, "Without social media, MVMT would not be what it is today. All our marketing was done digitally through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We did almost nothing offline because what we did online was incredibly effective."

 

MVMT's marketing presence was nearly omnipresent across digital platforms, effectively leveraging organic traffic. MVMT maintained accounts on virtually all platforms, adjusting strategies to cater to the audience of each while staying true to the brand's style and core values.

 

Instagram's User-Generated Content (UGC) Strategy

 

Taking inspiration from competitor Daniel Wellington's #DWMoment, MVMT introduced its own brand tag, #JoinTheMVMT (now with over 160,000 posts). This tag is used by Instagram influencers and everyday consumers alike, allowing them to share content in a user-generated format on the Instagram platform. MVMT also established a dedicated ambassador page on its website, providing incentives for users to actively promote MVMT products.

 

After becoming ambassadors, users can include discount codes on their social media posts, allowing them to earn commissions when their followers make purchases. This system enables MVMT to track which ambassadors are the most effective and why.

 

For instance, MVMT collaborated with blogger Stephanie Danielle, who has over 130,000 followers, and she posted a video on Instagram showcasing MVMT's new sunglasses along with a discount code, "stephaniedanielle15," for her followers to use. This allows MVMT to track the referral sales generated by each ambassador.

 

Lifestyle Operation on YouTube

 

Although MVMT's YouTube channel has nearly 28,000 subscribers, its strategy primarily involves engaging with its fans rather than merely showcasing products. The highest-viewed content on MVMT's account includes travel vlogs where creators wearing MVMT watches journey to various destinations worldwide. This content aligns perfectly with MVMT's brand spirit: living each day like it's your last.

MVMT also collaborates with numerous YouTube influencers for product presentations, contributing to 46.41% of MVMT's traffic coming from YouTube. Similar to Instagram ambassadors, YouTubers earn commissions through their promotional codes, encouraging them to drive sales.

 

As of now, MVMT has garnered over three million likes on Facebook and has more than 1.5 million followers on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, the majority of whom belong to Generation Z. This has solidified MVMT's position as the number one watch brand among online influencers.

 

Conclusion

 

MVMT's success with a purely online model demonstrates that in the realm of affordable watches, youthfulness and digital marketing are the keys to success. Undoubtedly, digital channels are the most effective means to reach the younger generation and provide timely feedback through real data.

 

Securing a place in the minds of the younger generation is not an easy task for any brand. For traditional Swiss brands, it's time to break away from conventional models and reshape a more youthful brand image. For MVMT, the challenge is to maintain its brand advantage among Generation Z while continuously evolving to seize opportunities in this ever-evolving landscape.