Sekonda to One Seksy Brand - How to Sell Lots of Watches
Sekonda was founded in 1931, now it is part of Time Products (U.K). It remains the same privately owned business that it started as, but has evolved to cater to 6.5% of the British watch market (GFK data 2006). With a market share like that it is no surprise that Sekonda is presently the U.K.'s best selling watch brand. More amazing is the fact that it has remained the U.K.'s favorite watch brand since 1988 and in 2006 became the best seller by both volume and value. Showing that it is firmly established in its position at the top of this industry. The reasons for their success are many and perhaps can be best summed up by their own slogan beware of expensive imitations.
Sekonda used to import Soviet watches for sale in the Western markets. They are associated with the original production of both digital and quartz watches. Firstly sourcing Russian mechanical watches and then moving their production to Hong Kong as quartz technology became the highly desired watch mechanism. This flair for utilising innovations has been a crucial element of their success. In the 1980's a host of fashion houses such as DKNY, Gucci and Guess began producing their own fashion watches. This marked the beginning of a new era of competition within the watch industry and questions began to be raised about how to combat the new influx of competitors; the main problem was that the size of the market had not increased at the same rate as those after market share.
The key values that have driven Sekonda's success are price, quality and service. RRP's are chosen before product development is complete. This places the emphasis on the buyers to reduce material costs, rather than on the retailers to sell at a higher price. The core lines retail between £20 and £80, eminently more affordable than their fashion house counterparts. Strict quality controls have remained firmly in place since the start. Each watch is checked by hand for any faults which has resulted in a return rate of less than 1%, even though they sell in excess of 1.6 million watches a year. Admirable. Additionally both end customers and retailers continually express their satisfaction with the sales process and the after sales care.
Sekonda have managed to retain their market status not only by providing a high quality of product and service but by constantly evolving to satisfy the desires of their key target market, 25-35 year olds. In the last twenty years this has meant a change of strategy as fashion now dictates that style must be fast and disposable. The notion of impulse buying has become not just a bonus for the retailer but a staple diet. Sekonda decided to develop ranges that fed into this market and, in 2004 and 2005 respectively, the Seksy and One ranges were born.
These two identities now account for 20% of Sekonda's overall sales. Both ranges consist of watches that are individually named, most famously the Seksy Eclipse, which both emulates high fashion's penchant for naming items and creates a tag that is significantly more likely to lodge in the mind of the consumer than just an image or traditional product code. Image conscious women and men were suddenly provided with high fashion style for high street prices from a reliable brand. This sales strategy has been one of the most successful of recent years. Essentially the model that they have created is eminently effective marketing actually backed up by a good quality product at a good price. They are ticking all the boxes and this constantly creates a substantial amount of work but allows for continual reassessment and innovation.
One of the essential elements of a fashion brand is a quick turn around on products. The lead time for a new Sekonda watch is only 3 months, so their 'cool hunters' can capitalise on a trend within a relatively short time. They also have product launches every six months to facilitate this. This is a logistic nightmare. But thanks to a precise stock system, based upon perceptive use of market research and advertising strategies Sekonda have one of the lower waiting times for delivery in the watch sector. This has come to be essential in a market based upon rapidly changing fashions. At any time they have approximately 1 million watches in stock, yet aim to sell 600, 000-700, 000 of this stock within a short period. In addition to this they will also label products for individual retailers based on their systems rather than Sekonda's. This further enables a speedy transition to the shop shelf.
The most visible and therefore the most important element of their sales is brand representation. In 2006 they had a marketing budget of £1.6 million, this increased to £1.9 million in 2007. A significant outlay which has yielded impressive results. This budget is in part spent on traditional magazine advertising including features in Heat, OK, Closer, Nuts and Zoo. But they have embraced new advertising realms. Noting the prevalence of media celebrity culture they have aligned their brand with a number of high profile celebrities; most recently Girls Aloud, Take That and Jack Osbourne. They have also sponsored television shows with anticipated high viewing figures such as the 2008 X-Factor. One of the most notable forms this has taken is the distinctive indents placed in advertising breaks, which include a number to text for your nearest Sekonda retailer. During the program An Audience with Take That' they received 1500 texts, the highest number ever recorded for this type of advertising. Putting aside for one moment the valuable brand exposure the ads provide, Sekonda have managed to turn TV advertising into actual sales. The effect of their campaign has filtered down right through the sales network. It is rarely that a customer asks for a specific watch that they have encountered through any advertising campaign. The retailer that I work for has received unprecedented numbers of enquiries about Seksy and One watches solely based on the effects of the TV campaigns.
Sekonda have entered into the travel retail market which as well as direct sales opportunities has the added benefit of brand exposure. Customers with enough capital to travel are a captive audience for the duration of flights. They are highly likely to browse the in-flight magazine the products are featured in even if they do not purchase anything. Other businesses have been keen to capitalize on Sekonda's success. Virgin flights had Sekonda advertising running on the back cover of the summer edition of their magazine. Sekonda now sell their watches on a number of airlines, have flagship stores at major airports and are completing a number of deals to place shops in popular U.K. tourist destinations and in ex-pat communities located in Dubai, Spain, Sharm el Sheikh and South Africa. At present U.K. consumers account for approximately half of all Sekonda's sales.
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