Licensed brands Q&A: Kirsten Crisford, Seiko UK


As part of WatchPro’s March issue focus on licensed watch brands, Seiko UK marketing manager Kirsten Crisford offers her views on bringing brands to market and keeping an eye on changes in the fashion industries.

WatchPro: Tell us about your licensed watch brands – which brands do you work with and how long have they held watch licenses?
Kirsten Crisford: We have marketed licenced watch brands in excess of eight years, most recently we have taken on Ted Baker and Kenneth Cole.

WP: Licensed watch brands appear to be growing in strength in the UK market – why do you think this is?
KC: The watch market as a whole has been fairly robust through tough trading in other areas of commerce. Therefore when an already successful brand is looking to extend its product offering then moving into the watch market makes sense. Obviously they may not have knowledge of the sector specifically so licensing the brand is the best way to do this; you have the knowledge of the people in the industry combined with the expertise of the brand. In fashion particularly this has been a popular move as some of the brands will already have high recognition on the high street and a strong following. The importance is to find the brands that translate their style well into watches and have an identity that can stand out from the crowd on a retailer’s shelf. Some fashion brands come and go as tastes and ‘what’s in’ changes, brands with strong heritage that are fashion forming will have longevity. We believe that Ted Baker and Kenneth Cole are these brands.


WP: How do you work with the brands to design, build and market the collections?
KC: We have a merchandising and brand team that work with the fashion designers to ensure that the watch collections represent the brand accurately, while remaining commercial and practical for the high street. We both look at trends, in watches and wider fashion, to ensure that we are moving in the right direction. It is definitely a collaboration as the watches have to represent the brand in the right way and be desirable to the consumer.

WP: Is it up to you or the licensed brand to promote the watches?
KC: We undertake the selling and promoting of the collections. The support of the brands is always used where we can though; they provide us with fantastic graphics and other POS. Having the final say on what support goes where allows us to get the right messages out to the market and tactically support our retailers to drive sales. The benefit of licensing a well known brand is that the awareness levels are huge, anything Ted Baker or Kenneth Cole do to promote the rest of their products reflects positively on the watches, and vice versa from us.

WP: How are the collections marketed in the UK?
KC: We are just starting out with these brands so we can only imagine that our marketing activities will increase. Right now our focus is around getting a solid distribution base so that consumers can go out and buy the products when they see or read about them.

WP: Are there any brands that you have your eye on, or that you would like to work with to create a licensed watch collection?
KC: We, like many others, are keeping a keen eye on what is happening in our market and beyond. It would be interesting to look at brands that are specifically tailored to a younger dynamic, there are some very popular high end brands that we believe would do well in watches. But for now our product mix is strong and we feel more than happy with what we have.

WP: Which area of branding do you think is untapped or could be developed?
KC: If anything more can be made of sports brands, it is a growing market as more and more can be done to improve performance and assess progress through technological and nutritional advancements. A strong sports brand that has integrity can traverse a wide range of product sectors.

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