We spoke with Tissot general manager for ANZ Scott Jungwirth about the launch, how the brand stays true to its heritage and why he’s hopeful for a good Christmas.
Inside Retail: With the vaccine rollout progressing in Australia and New Zealand, and bricks-and-mortar stores reopening, what are you anticipating in terms of holiday sales?
Scott Jungwirth: We are confident retail will rebound strongly in the lead-up to Christmas. We expect Sydney to be a little more buoyant compared with Melbourne, simply due to the challenges Victoria has faced with longer lockdowns, but overall we believe it will be a really positive Christmas period. There is no doubt people want that in-store experience again and I am sure they will look to treat themselves after a difficult time for so many.
IR: Can you describe Tissot’s digital presence in the ANZ market and what your experience with e-commerce has been like over the course of the pandemic?
SJ: Over the past 24 months we have adopted a digital-first mentality, and as part of this, have actively expanded our e-commerce presence across multiple platforms. Prior to the onset of Covid-19, online sales represented a relatively small percentage of the industry, but this has changed significantly over the past 18 months as more and more retailers embrace the digital space and improve their online experience.
We recently launched our own online corporate store, which has gone from strength to strength throughout 2021. In addition, we have a presence on The Iconic, which has also been very positive, along with enhancing our brand on department store websites like David Jones and those of more traditional jewellers.
IR: Are there any changes that you’ve made to the way the business operates over the course of the pandemic that you plan to carry through into the future?
SJ: The pandemic has accelerated the growth of our online business by five years. We now need to continue to enhance the experience customers have in this space across not only our own website but also those of our retail partners.
There was a common view by many in the industry prior to Covid-19 [that] luxury watches were not something you would purchase online, as traditionally they have been something customers prefer to touch and feel prior to purchasing. But the past 18 months has changed that, and it is certainly a trend that is here to stay and it will grow significantly over the next five years.
IR: The rise of smart watches has been a big disruptor in the industry. How has Tissot adapted, and how do you see this space developing going forward?
SJ: I think it is important to differentiate devices that can be worn on the wrist versus traditional watches. The two categories can complement one another and not necessarily compete as many suggest. Swiss watches are timeless pieces of jewellery that will stand the test of time. They are perfect for marking a special occasion or milestone. Smart watches offer something completely different to that.
That said, we have just launched the T-Touch Connect Solar in Australia and New Zealand, which provides a hybrid option for customers looking to purchase a great looking sport watch, but with the added benefit of connected features. Being solar powered, the need to constantly charge it for it to work is also eliminated.
IR: As a heritage brand known for craftsmanship and tradition, how do you walk the line between preserving those aspects, but also meeting the needs of today’s consumer?
SJ: There will always be a place for traditional Swiss watches. The tech space moves very quickly and what is relevant today might be obsolete tomorrow. Our history and DNA since 1853 has been fine watch-making, which won’t change. But it is worth noting [that] with the development of the T-Touch Connect Solar, the Swatch Group invested a lot of money and resources into developing its own operating system to preserve its Swiss Made authenticity. I think this is a good example of how preserving tradition can be achieved while also serving new consumer trends.
IR: Is there anything else you’d like to share about the launch?
SJ: The T-Touch Connect Solar is perhaps our most significant product launch for some time. We launched an exclusive pre-order period, which has seen very positive take-up, which gives us confidence it will be a really popular piece in this market. As part of this launch, we engaged with Ryan Papenhuyzen (Melbourne Storm), Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs) and Corey ‘Homocide’ Williams (former NBL MVP) with a series of shoots across Australia and in New York to showcase the watches ability to offer sports functionality seamlessly with timeless style.