Consumer digital fatigue has helped the traditional watch market recover as they move away from redundant connectivity. Brands such as Swatch, Rolex, Omega and Casio have all seen a recovery, while sales of hybrid watches have declined.
This was one of the main takeaways from the presentation given by Jorge Martin, Head of Fashion Research at Euromonitor, at the recent Asian Watch Conference held earlier this month in conjunction with the 38and Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair organized by the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council.
“As we see exponential growth in digitalization, consumers are looking for digital balance and there is a need to avoid redundant connectivity. Thanks to analog creativity, there are many things that can be done with traditional watches. said Martin.
Realizing the power of digitization and connectivity, Martin noted that analog watch manufacturers and retailers have tried creative approaches.
An example is slow watches, which use a 24-hour dial. This is in line with the “slow movement,” while minimalist designs are also proving popular these days, Martin said.
“Instead of pushing people to always be connected, watch makers are taking the opposite approach – going back to basics. An example is Crown and Caliber, a company that sells pre-owned premium watches online, tests them and guarantees them to reassure buyers. Another example is Schaffen Watches, a small brand that allows consumers to co-design their own personalized watch,” he added.
The increased digitization that has connected 4 billion people online not only for communication but it has also seen the Internet of Things (IoT) from homes, cars to traffic lights.
Martin pointed out that there is a downside to these huge changes. This has led to passive consumption as companies use big data and artificial intelligence to predict what consumers need.
“It has resulted in a digital detox for many people. For example, a Euromonitor study showed that 25% of consumers say passive internet access adds stress to their lives. As a result, big companies like Apple, Google and Facebook allow users to actively manage their online access. »
Additionally, questions have been raised about the relevance of the connected device, in terms of addressing unmet consumer needs or adding value to the consumer experience; if it does the job for which it was designed; and whether it is user-friendly, in terms of enabling effortless interactivity, for example.
Martin discussed the ever-changing positioning in the smart apparel ecosystem as sportswear manufacturers such as Nike enter the smart tracking market.
“Differentiation allows products to coexist,” he said. “Traditional timepieces offer the time function, while the others are mainly fashion-oriented.”
Opportunities still abound for smart clothing
According to Philip Wong, Vice President (Technical) of the Movado Group, the last two to three years had seen an increase in smartwatches for children aged 4 to 12 and for the elderly. There has also been an increase in the number of hybrid smartwatches being sold.
Favorite features of smartwatches for kids include real-time location monitoring, SOS alerts, proximity alerts, location history, school attendance tracking, and geo-fence activation as protection.
As an example of the future of this segment, Mr. Wong said, “Qualcomm, one of the largest chipset vendors in the world, has developed a chipset for children’s smartwatches that we use in our own products, selling 25 million units in 2017.”
“Children’s smartwatches would constitute a large part of the IOT smart wearable device market,” he added.
Meanwhile, citing recent market research, Wong said high-income consumers are more interested in hybrid smartwatches than smartwatches, which represents a market opportunity for hybrid smartwatches.
“This translates into a fusion between traditional analog watches and smart connected features using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity,” Wong said. “These watches don’t have as many functions as regular smartwatches, but have much longer battery life and ‘real’ watch faces, complete with watch hands. They usually have basic functions, like a fitness tracker. activity, for health management, a notification function, automatic synchronization of time zones and remote control.
Market research has shown that consumers also want an ECG measurement tracker that can provide useful information to their doctor. “The new hybrids are aligned with the expectations and needs of high-income consumers – simple and adequate,” he said.
An added benefit of hybrid watches, Wong pointed out, is that the investment cost is lower, although they have additional costs in terms of software development, certification and licensing, and app maintenance. The lower cost of entry will encourage greater participation in this category of watches, he added.
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