Ice-Watch CEO Jean-Pierre Lutgen
Online helps Ice-Watch race to milestone
Belgian fashion watch juggernaut Ice-Watch looks set to bring up its 10
millionth sale this year off the back of attracting its one millionth
The Ice-Watch brand may be just five years old but it has quickly positioned itself as one of the world’s leading fashion watch brands. Its growth has rapidly accelerated over the past two years in particular, recording more than four million sales in 2011, double what it had recorded in the previous four years combined, taking total sales since its launch in 2006 beyond six million as of the end of 2011.
According to the Ice-Watch CEO Jean-Pierre Lutgen sales are currently ahead of where they were at the same time last year and he told Jeweller that he expected that the 10 million milestone should be eclipsed before the year is out.
As a result, Ice-Watch has shot to the top of the ranking in the fashion watch segment in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom according to independent data from the GFK Study Watch Panel – fashion watch segment between 50€ and 100€.
While the product is obviously one that has been embraced by a range of markets around the world, Ice-Watch attributes much of its success over the past two years to its efforts to promote the brand online, with its use of social media giant Facebook a key element.
Highlighting the link between its social media involvement and its retail success was another milestone brought up by the brand this year, surpassing one million Facebook fans, a monumental number for a fashion brand of any age. Ice-Watch is only the second watch brand to do so, along with Guess, and is the most popular Belgian brand on Facebook across any industry.
The speed with which Ice-Watch is expanding its following on Facebook is extraordinary. In March this year the company had less than 500,000 Facebook fans, however at the time of publication the brand’s official Facebook page had increased to over 1,118,000.
Lutgen said Ice-Watch works hard to keep its army of online fans constantly engaged with new content.
“A dedicated web team activates the brand web community on a daily basis,” Lutgen said. “New collections, sports and cultural events, festivals, new stores, it’s all there on the Ice-Watch fan page. Anything is a good opportunity to post photos, videos and news on line to encourage a sustainable dialogue.”
“During the UEFA European Football Championship, the postings created with the Ice-World collection sporting the national colours of 24 countries created fun dialogues between the Ice-Watch community,” Lutgen continued. “Of course, this dynamic influences the brand awareness, stimulate sharing and accentuates the desire for new collections.”
Larry Porter, chief executive of Ice-Watch's Australian distributor Bolt International was thrilled with the Facebook milestone, and put the online success down to the essence of Ice-Watch’s core branding.
“We speak to an audience that’s quite broad, and we focused on social media from the start,” Porter told Jeweller. “The idea behind the brand is for people to collect watches, and to reinforce that, the brand needs to communicate with them actively.
Porter said not pushing for sales through the Ice-Watch Facebook page and attempting to provide entertainment for fans was what made the brand’s social media presence so popular.
“The Facebook page is quite interactive,” he explained. “There are games where you can get rewards, win a watch, and there’s also ‘My Ice-List’, where you can choose all the watches you want [like a wish list]. The members are fans because they like what the brand stands for, it’s young, vibrant energetic, so we have to provide that for them.
“I think when you are on Facebook communicating with your customers, you’ve got to be in touch with what they want and not be seen to be selling”, he added. “We never say ‘go and buy this watch’. We mention that the new releases are out so check them out online, and we get people to vote on their favourite watch and what they think of the collection. It’s about getting that interactive feel rather than feeling forced to buy.”
The Ice-Watch page is also geo-targeted, which means that fans can have a greater personal experience, receiving content relevant to their own country.
“We [Bolt International Australia] look after posting information that’s relevant to the Australian market,” he said. “It’s an international platform, and there are posts that go out globally, but each country is responsible for posts to create discussions on a local basis.”
Ice-Watch looks to complement its online efforts with a range of cross media promotions, such as prestigious fashion magazines and watch journals, along with campaigns to tie in with key sporting events such as the Olympics and the UEFA.
Posted July 17, 2012