The worst thing that can happen to you? A lack of competition

Hit by the slowest Jan to Sep sales growth rate since 2009, the prestige jewelry and watch industry is all too familiar with the new consumers behind its boom years: emerging market consumers keen to own timepieces and jewels to reward and project their new found wealth. 
With Western economies still far from their pre-2008 health, category growth has come primarily from Asia, Latin America and Russia. It turns out these markets are some of the most enthusiastic about social media: taking Facebook as a proxy for global social activity, 60% of global category Likes (and 70% of recent new Likes) are from emerging markets. And let’s not forget that Facebook is neither popular in Russia nor legal in China–where social media are notoriously omnipresent.
Digital DNA profile for 14 of the digitally most active prestige watches and jewelry brands – P31d

It comes as somewhat of a surprise then, that save for a couple of exceptions like Tiffany’s and Cartier, key players in the category have failed to capture the opportunity offered by social media to connect and engage with their current and future consumers:
  • The total number of YouTube subscribers for the entire category is 25% lower than MAC Cosmetics, 7x smaller than Jamie Oliver alone
  • Total category Instagram engagement last month was 30% than Benefit Cosmetics alone
  • Total category Twitter @mentions last month were 30% than Coca-Cola’s alone
  • While category leaders from Red Bull to Heineken, Dior, Mercedes, or Coca-Cola are earning significantly more engagement from Instagram than from Facebook, Rolex is not yet active on Instagram

At eBench we regularly find that the digitally most advanced players owe much of their digital excellence to the threat of competition breathing down their necks: Mercedes-Benz became one of the all-time greats in 2014 after a tight neck and neck race against Audi and BMW in 2013; Red Bull’s dominance is helping Monster and Rockstar perform better everyday; while cosmetics, fashion and sports apparels brands are amongst the most competitive of all sectors thanks to digitally brilliant category leaders motivating ambitious competitors.

While one hopes that watch and jewelry brands will soon fulfill their social potential, it probably does not help that HQs for many of these brands are just miles apart in Switzerland. And it’s probably no coincidence that the HQs of both category leaders Cartier and Tiffany’s are not in Switzerland.

There are still plenty of great executions worth celebrating. We look forward to enjoying a much more consistent flow of impressive content and campaigns that do justice to the richness of the category and the rising levels of its consumers’ expectations.

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Most rated video last month

The most re-tweeted Tweet last month

Most re-tweeted Tweet tweeted by a third party

The category is the weakest eBench tracks at generating significant

3rd party mentions – which are essential sources of engagement and growth on social media

Most engaging Instagram post

Most engaging post on Facebook – much of its engagement is paid rather than organic

PS: notice that countless prestigious brands with high notoriety and strong brand power (Patek, Longines, Pomellato, Breitling, Boucheron, Breguet, De Beers, Mikimoto etc.) were not included for chart clarity. Their combined social footprint was minimal.