Retail in Asia


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Victorinox’s CMO unveils what’s next for the 138-year-old brand

Victorinox is a Switzerland based knife manufacturer and watchmaker, best known as the manufacturer of the “Swiss Army Knife”. Operating as a family business, Victorinox has extended its offering to cutlery, watches, travel gear and fragrances. Established its business in the APAC region in the 1990s, the brand has successfully penetrated the market and gained high exposure through its strong heritage and diverse offering .

SEE ALSO : Inside Hong Kong’s first zero sugar vodka soda: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with ONLY Beverages

Today, Victorinox is achieving another milestone in their history. The brand’s signature item – Swiss Army Knife, which stands for functionality, reliability, quality and iconic design – has turned 125.

Retail in Asia is glad to have caught up with Mrs Veronika Elsener, Chief Marketing Officer of Victorinox. Elsener has been working for Victorinox in various positions for over 25 years. In her current role, she is responsible for worldwide brand communication. During our interview, we discussed the development of the brand over the past years, striking a balance between honoring Victorinox’s heritage and driving innovations, as well as upcoming plans for the future.

RiA : Congratulations on achieving another milestone! In the past 125 years, Victorinox has successfully transformed itself from a lifestyle into a global premium brand. What would you say to be the important turning moments?

Veronika : A brand functions like a lighthouse in that it enables trust, orientation and differentiation. It must be managed in a contemporary manner, i.e. adapted to the changing requirements of the market, the customers as well as the competition, while remaining true to itself. Having become known around the globe as a knife factory and manufacturer of the “Swiss Army Knife”, new product categories have been added over the years. With this, the requirement to create a foundation and framework with the brand strategy to ensure a relevant, consistent and benefit-oriented communication from the brand to the product has also grown – especially in the context of the increasing number of direct customer contact points such as social media, website or stores. The development and implementation of the brand strategy as well as the overall fast-paced digital transformation have presented me with both opportunities and challenges.

RiA: As a heritage brand, how does Victorinox strike a balance between preserving the traditions and innovations?

Veronika : We base our marketing efforts around the heritage of our brand, while choosing an approach that is in line with our brand positioning. We treasure where we come from, but at the same time we are also open for change. We see the further development of our company as a perpetual process. Our long-term success lies in the strength of our brand. Victorinox is built on solid traditional values. With this eye for the tried and true and for the new, we will still be able to keep our brand promise the day after tomorrow – to our customers as well as to our employees and business partners. When we succeed in continuing to bring products that surprise and inspire people, we will shape a successful future for Victorinox.

Source : Victorinox

RiA : Being a leader in Swiss Army Knives, Victorinox has extended its offering to cutlery, watches, travel gear and fragrances. How do you preserve the brand’s DNA across all product categories?

Veronika : Our marketing strategy ensures that the DNA of the Original Swiss Army runs through all our other product categories. The brand values innovation, quality, iconic design and functionality that are derived from our Swiss Army Knife are at the core of everything we do.

RiA : What would you identify as the most challenging part in running a brand with 125 years of history?

Veronika : We can proudly state that we have a strong brand that is recognized all over the world. However, this does not allow us to rest upon our laurels. As a premium brand it is important that we ensure consistency across all categories and touchpoints. It is equally important to stay at the pulse of time. The most challenging part in nowadays world is certainly to strive for constant improvement and innovation and thus remain relevant for our consumers.

RiA : Can you share the story of Victorinox when it first entered the APAC market? How is the consumption pattern/ habit different from that of the European market?

Veronika : Back in 1993 Victorinox made its first entry to the APAC region with the opening of a sales subsidiary in Japan. Hong Kong followed in 1996. I can still remember my first visit to Hong Kong very vividly. A lot has changed since then. Today, the APAC region accounts for 13 percent of our annual sales turnover and has become an important market for us where we still see huge growth potential.

With regards to the shopping pattern in Hong Kong, we see a strong preference from consumers to buy from physical stores, despite the possibility for online shopping. We currently operate 8 Victorinox shops in premium locations in Hong Kong.

Offering a unique shopping experience and excellent customer service is what drives consumers to our stores. Thus, we aim to create and offer local collections and personalized products.

Source: Victorinox

RiA: In recent years, Victorinox has been putting more emphasis on sustainability. We know that the brand is removing packaging for fragrance products, encouraging consumers to repair but not to replace etc. Should we expect to see more initiatives on sustainability from Victorinox in the future?

Veronika : For our company, sustainability is very important. As a family-run company we think in generations. The most important task of a company is to be successful in the market in the long run securing sustainable earnings. It is important to strike a healthy balance for economic, social, and ecological goals. It requires a sustainability approach that has a positive impact on the economy, the society and the environment.

In the manufacturing of our pocket knives, for example, we have already come a long way in terms of sustainability. All our pocket knives, household and professional knives are made of 95 percent recycled steel. The steel waste generated during the production is recycled using a special process and 100 percent is returned into the cycle. We strive to continuously extend this sustainability claim to all of our product categories.

For more than 40 years, a system has been in place to help us to use the heat that is generated during the manufacturing process to heat all our buildings and in addition 120 apartments. We also use photovoltaic installations to generate electricity which allows every year to compensate for more than 500 tons of CO2.

SEE ALSO : Meet the brand behind the rise of micro-influencers: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with BIGO

RiA: No stranger to carrying out partnerships with different brands, can you give us a sneak peek on upcoming collaborations? Will that still be a main focus for the brand in the near future?

Veronika : Collaborations are a strategic pillar of our marketing efforts. One upcoming collaboration in July that we are extremely excited about is with Adidas. Iconic, multifunctional and stylish are the keywords that describe this collaboration best. Together we have co-created the sneaker EQT 93 Victorinox, that brings together the best of both brands. As a special extra, the matching Victorinox pocket knife Classic SD Solemate Limited Edition completes the shoe. We are thrilled with the outcome of the products which bring unique design and exciting details. Adidas and Victorinox – two brands, one mission to equip the world with functionality and style for any urban adventure!

Another great collaboration with a popular fashion brand is in the pipeline for autumn this year. We can’t disclose details right now, but stay tuned for more exciting news to come your way soon!

Source : Victorinox