Breitling was founded in 1884 by Leon Breitling as an independent watch company specializing in chronographs and precision instruments designed for sporting victories, scientific breakthroughs and industry advancements. Over the past 135 years, Breitling has managed to create its very own place in the industry: the highly exclusive ‘stronghold’ of technical watches, mainly chronographs. A longstanding partner of aviation, a field where reliability and precision play a vital role, the brand has always devoted premier importance to the quality of its products, designed to withstand intensive use in the most trying conditions.
Retail in Asia had the pleasure to interview Alvin Soon, President of Breitling Asia to know more about the brand development on this side of the world.
As Alvin has shared during the interview, the brand values consist of 6 pillars; Heritage, Quality, Performance, Style, Inclusivity and Responsibility. Alvin said: “This is who we are but it also expresses our commitment to these values in the future. Some of these have long been part of the brand; others are receiving enhanced emphasis. Heritage, Quality and Performance have been part of Breitling’s DNA since its founding. Style has long played an important role but we are focusing on it more than ever before. Inclusivity is reflected by the broad range of Breitling Squads in a wide range of fields and our expanding demographic appeal. We have increasingly been demonstrating our social responsibility, both with carefully-selected external partners and by the environmentally- and ethically-driven missions we share with our Squad members”.
Before starting the Q&A, we also asked Alvin to summarize what the brand represents today and he used the following statement: “Authentic, everyday luxury watch for men and women of purpose, action and style”.
RiA: Watch market has been changing and with the rise of Millennial and Gen Z, in a way that heritage brands had to release different collections, colors, models to meet their evolving taste. Is it the case for Breitling and how?
Alvin: Instead of launching more new products, colors and offering targeting at the Millennials, Breitling has stayed consistent across our entire collection in terms of design language and design codes, always reflecting our modern-retro style.
Breitling is a brand appeals to a wildly diversified audience, including Millennials, this has been the reason the brand marketing is seen as penetrating aggressively in the digital world recently. With the introduction of #squadonamission hashtag on social media, we celebrate the collective spirit of squads united in pursuit of their mission, the core value of Breitling brings about to empower their young customers.
Breitling announced in the last summit to have invited Luke Bannister as part of our Aviation Pioneer Squad, currently 18 at age, Luke represents a new kind of aviator as a world champion drone pilot. He attracted international attention at 15 when he won first prize in the World Drone Prix in Dubai and later on won another three consecutive DCL Championships from 2016 to 2018. We believe the partnership with young professional like Luke, is eye-opening for many millennials to see Breitling in different perspectives.
We also partner very closely with several Ocean friendly organizations with multiple on-ground activations such as Ocean Cleaning, 100% recycled strap etc. creating a sense purpose and interesting story to bring excitement for our new millennial customers
RiA: Who is your customer profile and does it change across time and market?
Alvin: Breitling customers are typically male and above 35 years old. However, we start to see a shift in the demographics since last year where we get a lot more customers below 35 especially within Greater China region. We also see an increase of lady customers since after the launch of our Premier collection that are smaller in size and hence more suitable for the Asian ladies wrist size
RiA: What is your current status of expansion in Asia?
Alvin: 2 words to describe, “Fast and Furious” especially in Greater China region where we are adding a 1-2 new point of sales or retrofitting existing boutiques and corners every month since beginning of the 2018. China distribution has since doubled from 2017 and our latest addition is our Hong Kong International Airport boutique which officially opened in October.
RiA: How about the retail concept for the recent opening at K11 MUSEA in Hong Kong?
Alvin: K11 MUSEA and HK International Airport are our 2 latest BREITLING boutiques showcasing our new retail concept. It features a contemporary urban interpretation of a chic industrial loft in a modern retro style to offer a truly immersive experience to the Hong Kong’s eclectic watch community.
RiA: Where do you see the watch industry heading in Asia?
Alvin: Strong growth potential is in view especially for Asia and for price category >CHF 3000 to CHF 5000 as the <35 age group affluent middle-class segment is foreseen to be one of the fastest growing customers base within our Asia region.
As per Breitling, 2020 will be the year of Chronomat relaunch, introduction of our new Professional range of watches, new exciting Breitling squads’ member onboard and many more on-ground activation activities to excite our customers world-wide.