New Economic Realities   //   May 9, 2024

Movado Brand president Margot Grinberg on reintroducing a legacy watch company to younger shoppers

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“Everyone said that millennials were never going to buy watches,” said Margot Grinberg, president of the Movado Brand and svp of e-commerce at its parent company Movado Group. The going theory was: “They don’t need them to tell time, they had a phone; watches were dead after the cell phone came out.”

But that didn’t happen. In fact, timepieces have never been more popular. According to a recent survey from the Boston Consulting Group, between 2021 and 2023, 54% of Gen Z and younger millennials increased their spending on luxury watches.

Grinberg joined the Modern Retail Podcast and spoke about the state of higher-end watches, as well as its evolving marketing playbook. For her, it’s a family affair as her grandfather founded the company.

But even with its long history, Movado has been intently focused on attracting younger shoppers. Despite being over a century old, the watch brand — which also works with top names like Coach, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss — has been figuring out ways to introduce itself to younger shoppers. This has included a revamped logo, soon-to-be redesigned packaging as well as updated messaging.

While the products have remained relatively consistent, Grinberg said what makes shoppers — especially younger shoppers — more amenable to higher-end brands is in messaging. “I think in today’s world, a lot of it is about marketing and how you’re communicating to customers,” she said.

The other part of the equation is being available on multiple channels. Movado’s watches are sold in most any store that sells time pieces, but it’s also available on marketplaces like Amazon as well as its own website.

“There are so many new elements that you can offer consumers from an e-commerce experience that we didn’t even have five, 10 years ago,” Grinberg said.

Here are a few highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.

Movado’s e-commerce strategy
“E-comm has been a big growing part of our business, and we still do a lot of business in-store. We really are believers in that omnichannel experience. We want you to love our brands and buy our products wherever you feel most comfortable. I think the exciting thing about e-comm too is if you ask people, even like five, 10 years ago, no one thought that they would spend $500, $1,000, $1,500 on a watch online. And now there’s very little barrier to that. I think the world’s gotten easier with everyone offers free returns and AI and allowing people to see what it could look like on your wrist. And there are so many new elements that you can offer consumers from an e-commerce experience that we didn’t even have five, 10 years ago. But we’ve really invested in building out a lot of that stuff — better photography, better storytelling online, fast delivery, all of those things that you’re looking for especially when you’re spending $1,000-plus online.”

Understanding the role of brand marketing
“We don’t really measure [linear TV ads] other than understanding, obviously, how many impressions we’re getting. But I think a lot of marketers get into trouble when they’re trying to measure such direct performance related from one ad or one type of medium when some mediums are meant to build your brand over a long period of time. So I don’t expect that when someone opens Vogue and sees our ad that they’re going to immediately go and buy a watch. But they’re going to open magazines over time and they’re going to see our brand — and when they’re in market, they’re going to remember that they had saw this beautiful ad that we had shot. Same thing with television.”

Young people are still buying watches
“Everyone said that millennials were never going to buy watches. They don’t need them to tell time, they had a phone; watches were dead after the cell phone came out, which is far from true, as you can tell. And I think that people are really looking at watches as investments. And I’m not saying investments that necessarily have to have a resale value, but investments in themselves… It often marks a moment of achievement and things like that… Millennials are the largest watch consumers today, and I have no doubt that Gen Z will be the next. And I think that’s just a part of what watches stand for to people. They are an accessory that people often have an emotional connection with and I think it’s really hard to break something like that when there’s an emotional piece to it.”