“A virtual fair is a plus as it allows brands to expand their reach beyond the usual visitors and readers,” H. Moser & Cie CEO Edouard Meylan says, welcoming this Saturday’s Watches & Wonders new product dump. “If we manage to bring the emotions and the experience that the visitors usually get when visiting the fairs, then we win. Reducing costs while engaging a broader audience is the key to future success of fairs. This is a good way to start.” He’s right! He’s wrong! Let me explain . . .
There’s no doubt that Watches & Wonders new product dump will reach new markets for the 30 brands unveiling new models online at 12 p.m. Central European Time. The Internet be like that.
Also no question: the online extravaganza will save the watchmakers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Live streaming with little to no airfare, hotel, food or transportation? An accountant somewhere is doing a happy dance.
Where Mr. Meylan’s expectations split from reality: his hope that Watches & Wonders new product dump will “bring the emotions and the experience that the visitors usually get when visiting the fairs.”
Nope. Seeing a watch in the flesh – feeling its materials and weight, holding it this way and that in the light, trying it on – is an emotional experience the Internet can’t provide.
Trade show-goers love the drama, the noise, the excitement of going hands-on with the latest and greatest horological endeavor. Not to mention the emotions stirred by hanging with your horological homies.
But that’s not how potential customers enter the “sales funnel.” They begin their journey via images and text.
So why not focus on that and leave conventions behind? Because distributors and retailers are still a thing. Besides, who says you can’t do both?
“There will be a series of new product launch presentations where executives from participating brands will showcase their novelties through 10-minute streaming videos. These videos will then be permanently accessible on the site.”
Wait. Thirty brand roll-outs on the same day?
Even if they run back-to-back with all the efficiency of a Swiss train, that’s still more than six hours of new watch presentations. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Starting at 5am Texas time? Oy vey.
Watchmakers aren’t stupid. They saw the success of Breitling’s online product launch. There’s only one logical explanation for this electronic emesis: blackmail.
Watches & Wonders made the brands’ online participation a requirement for renting a stand or booth. Which is neither illegal nor unprecedented.
The electronic event will do wonders for Watches & Wonders’ rep as the online resource for new product info – a big ass feather in their cap and the birth of a new revenue stream. Following Breitling’s lead would be better for the brands on a lot of levels, but times are tough, a ten-minute reveal is dead simple and this W&W “innovation” won’t hurt them.
What will hurt them: Watches & Wonders decision to allow the general public all-areas access to the show. robbreport.com:
Tickets to the show will be 300 CHF (approximately the same in U.S. dollars), which includes full access to the show and the various brand booths—including food and beverages—as opposed to last year’s tickets, which were 60 CHF and only allowed guests into the Palexpo to effectively window shop the booths.
If the general public can purchase watches at W&W, it will be an epic clusterfuck on all sorts of levels (insurance, payment, security, etc.). Even if it’s look-but-don’t-buy, flocks of “connoisseurs” and “enthusiasts” entering booths will be an enormous time suck. It will detract from the real trade show business at hand: journalists. retailers and distributors.
Trade shows are a tradition stretching back centuries. As we continue to ride The Third Wave, trade shows must do the same thing watchmakers must do: adapt or die. While some adaptations are better than others, some adaptation is better than none.