Jean-Claude Biver urges multi-brand retailers to specialize or lose to watchmakers selling direct

Multi-brand luxury watch retailers need to focus on fewer brands or lose business to mono-brand boutiques and brands’ ecommerce sites selling directly to consumers, says Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer and president of the LVMH Group Watch Division.

Speaking to WatchPro at Baselworld last month, Mr Biver said that the emerging generation of customers needs to be given strong reasons to buy from multi-brand physical stores because they are just as comfortable shopping online for high value luxury goods.

They will also gravitate to mono-brand stores where they know they will be speaking to experts of the brand and will see the widest possible choice of watches.

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To compete, multi-brand stores must play to their strengths: offering deep expertise and impartial advice for a range of watch brands, while ensuring there is sufficient choice of models for each of the brands.

“They need to specialize or they will lose against the mono-brands,” Mr Biver predicts.

“You can only compete if you have stock, if you have the same level of choice for customers. How can a multi-brand store compete with a Hublot boutique if the Hublot store has 120 references to choose from and the multi-brand store has only 20 references? But if the multi-brand has 60 references, then it is different, it can compete. If it also has 60 references from Breitling and 60 from Richard Mille or Audemars Piguet, then the customer feels secure because they can compare brands. If the customer likes ceramic, they can be shown different options that are similar from different brands to see which they like,” Mr Biver advises.

A curated collection of brands presented by a highly expert team will give multi-brands an advantage, Mr Biver suggests. “If the multi-brand can educate and give an experience and win your trust, then you feel better in that shop because the guy is objective. The Hublot guy in a Hublot shop will only tell you Hublot is good. So the multi-brand has a lot of chances, but they need to rethink their concept,” he concludes.

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