The big question facing all 74 brands covered in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Mass & Licensed Watches is the extent to which Apple may disrupt their business. Nearly a quarter of the brands in this Index have pledged to release a smartwatch in 2015. But as mass and licensed brands shift their sights from luxury watchmakers to pure-play tech, the gaps in digital investments come into stark relief. For instance, 30% of all brands do not yet support direct-to-consumer e-commerce, and e-mail frequency among mass brands is only once a month. An increasingly crowded market combined with uncertainty over the rise of wearable devices is challenging convention, bringing the watch industry kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
1. Michael Kors
Digital IQ: 148
Although Michael Kors is among L2’s top 10 Gifted Fashion brands, its No. 1 ranking in the Watches Index study is somewhat surprising given watches (licensed by Fossil Group) are only a piece of its business. Yet Michael Kors’ watch-related digital efforts surpass that of all pure-play brands in this study. For example, just a quarter of emails sent by Michael Kors showcase its watch collection. Yet, that amounts to more emails than any other brand in the study sends. Michael Kors is one of just seven Indexed brands investing in omnichannel, showing real-time inventory in local stores online. The brand also stands out for its visibility across department store websites and other online retailers, appearing most frequently on the first page of relevant product categories for half of all retailers studied.
Responsible for $730 million in sales in 2013, Michael Kors’ watch arm successfully highlights content across all owned properties through the #MKTimeless hashtag. On the brand site, the series “Girl’s Guide to Watches” features different timepieces as an integral part of various overall looks in shoppable vignettes. In 2012 Michael Kors was the first brand to launch a user-generated contest on Instagram, and a year later the first ad on Instagram showcased a gold Michael Kors watch. In the first quarter of 2015, every one of the top 10 watch-related brand posts on Instagram was posted by Michael Kors.
Digital IQ: 145
Fossil stands out in search: The brand maintains the highest organic visibility across category search terms, appearing on a quarter of first-page search results. Links to fossil.com appear in generic searches such as “men’s watches” at twice the rate of the next best optimized site. The brand’s best-in-class product pages invest heavily in product imagery and include user ratings/reviews and product video. Fossil is also the only Indexed brand experimenting with Like2Buy to drive sales through Instagram. From Fossil’s Like2Buy page, users can tap a photo and link to an m-commerce enabled, mobile-optimized product page on the brand’s site. Fossil calls attention to the shopping capability of applicable posts through Instagram’s geotagging feature.
Digital IQ: 141
This young company from Fossil founder Tom Kartsotis has wasted no time in establishing a highly visible digital profile. Shinola is especially skilled at making the most of fan enthusiasm, leveraging its Detroit roots and harnessing user-generated content. Much of Shinola’s Instagram and Twitter content is sourced from users via the #MyShinola campaign, and #MyShinola Instagram posts garner more than 1.7x the engagement of all other brand posts. On Facebook and Twitter, UGC drives e-commerce through links to relevant product pages. The new #lovemycity campaign encourages users to submit images of their hometown, in line with Shinola’s positioning as a proudly Detroit-based brand. Shinola is one of four Indexed brands that spotlight UGC on their site: under the #MyShinola tab on product pages, the brand curates user-generated wrist views for each watch. Shinola also scores high in mobile with a best-in-class strategy that pairs responsive design and strong tablet optimization with strong mobile SEO and SEM. Also notable: a customized Shinola landing page on bloomingdales.com that incorporates branded video into product tiles.
Digital IQ: 133
The digitally Gifted brand has effectively employed Miranda Kerr as the face of watch lines through YouTube video, social promotions and display advertising.
4. Tissot (Tie)
Digital IQ: 133
Tissot’s email marketing actively promotes purchase opportunities and initiates the path to purchase by linking to relevant product pages. The brand is also one of only six Indexed brands that have produced watch videos with a million-plus views on YouTube.
Digital IQ: 131
Coach is doubling down on watches after a gap between collections with frequent watch-related emails -compared to over two-thirds of fashion brands that failed to send any watch-related emails during Q1 2015. Coach is also leveraging search to drive consumers to new product offerings.
Digital IQ: 129
Guess’s omnichannel commitment is illustrated through in-store integration, live inventory information, and being the sole Index brand to offer the ability to reserve online and pick up in store.
8. Gucci (Tie)
Digital IQ: 128
Gucci’s mobile-optimized e-commerce opportunities enable call-to-purchase and store inventory access from product description pages. Gucci is one of only two brands to offer overnight shipping on all watches by default, and consistently provides additional information and branded content on official product listings on Amazon.
Digital IQ: 128
Nixon leverages digital to offer consumers many opportunities to win, from the #nixonstylestack contest to a daylight savings giveaway to the “Win the Time of Your Life” sweepstakes. It’s also among the few Index brands that utilize rich pins to drive e-commerce next steps on Pinterest.
10. Swatch (Tie)
Digital IQ: 127
The brand’s frequent collaborations and limited editions create urgency and encourage paths to purchase from social channels.
Digital IQ: 127
Tag Heuer, which is planning to release a smartwatch this year in partnernship with Intel and Google, integrates its heritage and celebrity ambassadors in the cross-platform #DontCrackUnderPressure campaign for best-in-class social performance. #DontCrackUnderPressure has driven Tag Heuer’s YouTube view count to nearly 18 million, three times that of the next most-viewed brand channel, Chanel (adjusted for watch-related content).