Watch Market Faced with Opposing Generational Demands

BY Courtney Huckabay
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Less than half of U.S. consumers wear watches, whether daily, occasionally, or limited to special occasions, reports The NPD Group. According to the Consumer Watch Report, a recent report from NPD and their partner, CivicScience, Baby Boomers tend to be daily watch wearers, making them a core consumer for the market, but this segment is displaying the most vulnerability and erosion in sales.

On the other hand, the greatest opportunity for growth lies with members of the millennial generation.

The contrast in behavior between these two generations poses a significant challenge for the watch industry. Sales within the mainstream watch market declined 17 percent in the 12 months ending July 2017, and a third of consumers, who used to wear watches, don’t anymore.

The new AudienceSCAN survey results showed 16% of Americans want to buy a watch or new jewelry during the next 12 months, and 28% of them are from the Y generation.

The current tech-​driven environment and opposing generational needs at play mean the motivation behind a consumer’s purchase of a watch has fundamentally changed, and will continue to do so,” said Lori Monaco, President of U.S. Fashion Footwear, Accessories, Luxury Watches & Jewelry, The NPD Group. “Retailers and brands have an opportunity to engage the younger, ‘occasional watch wearer’ by appealing to their experience-​based sensibilities – showing them what they could wear for anything from a night out with friends, to a power meeting, or working out at the gym.”

Watch retailers can do just that by advertising experiences with their watches. Use video in all campaign channels: TV, YouTube, website, social. The new AudienceSCAN survey found 41% of Watch Shoppers responded to ads on social networks in the past month.

Millennials are not daily watch wearers, but they are leading the industry’s growth. Millennials tend to be occasional watch wearers, and are the most engaged in fashion – switching up their wrist style based on where they are going and what they are doing. They gravitate to trendy, fashion-​forward styles, but also appreciate the basics – brand and quality are critical factors for them as well.

Baby Boomers tend to be daily watch wearers, and select their watch for “anytime” use. Function is paramount, but the needs of this core group will change and become even more important as the Boomer generation ages, retires, and enters their next life stage.

Appeal to the boomers with newspaper advertising. The new AudienceSCAN survey results revealed 33.5% of Watch Shoppers took action after seeing newspaper ads.

There are clear areas of opportunity amid the challenges facing the watch industry,” added Monaco. “The market needs to be prepared to address the older consumer’s changing needs and retain their core wearer, while also cultivating its relationship with younger generations to ensure continued relevancy and growth.”

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.