Watches have always conveyed a symbolic meaning of timelessness and sense of belonging, passed from one generation to next the next one. In fact, luxury watch brands are able to create new design, yet maintain their desirable aura and remain collectors’ favourite items.
Recently, Retail in Asia interviewed Matthieu Pougin, Managing Director Asia Pacific at Piaget, to talk about Piaget, the watch industry, but also his experience.
RiA : You joined Piaget after 17 years at Nespresso. What was your impression of Piaget before you took up this role? And has that changed after you have taken up the role of Managing Director for the brand?
Matthieu : When I first joined Piaget in 2017, I was very much impressed by the brand’s rich history and successful milestones over the last 140 years. It was fascinating to learn Piaget’s level of extensive know-how in both watch and jewellery making. When I visited our manufacturer and met the artisans, it was amazing to learn about the incredible craftsmanship that goes into each creation.
What also impressed me about Piaget is how the brand resonates between different generations – many clients come to us because their grandparents, mother, and father had a Piaget. While our historic collections are well-loved by our existing clientele, I see that Piaget today appeals to a new generation of clients, the game changers who are younger.
At Piaget, we do have a product for everyone – we have everything from women’s to men’s, jewellery to watches, and more attainable to more high-end product. Our watches and jewellery fit different tastes and style preferences, ranging from affordable luxury that one can wear daily to high-end pieces for a special occasion.
RiA : Coming from a different market sector, how has your experience contributed to your role at Piaget and how do you use this experience to lead the brand in APAC?
Matthieu : My experience in management helps me cultivate a highly engaged organisation to reach our common goal: to make the brand more desired than ever.
We are establishing a customer-centric culture within the organisation and setting high and sustainable standards to achieve customer service excellence. We are also accelerating the business and enhancing the retail presence of the brand.
Having worked in Singapore and Hong Kong, I have been able to experience different markets and gain knowledge of different cultures. When working with an international brand, it is very important that we localise it and take local culture, trends and relevance into account.
No matter the market or the sector in APAC, the priority is always our client, our brand and our people. It is critical that we provide an experience that connects emotionally to our client – we have to find ways to make a brand resonate with our audience.
Ria : What is your main market at the moment and which one will you focus on in the future?
Matthieu : In APAC, I look after Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Piaget is doing very well in APAC and we believe this is just the beginning. APAC is one of our strategic markets and each region has enormous potential for Piaget to grow.
We have recently opened our first boutique in Melbourne, Australia and see a lot of potential. We have also been investing in Hong Kong; we recently refurbished our Ocean Terminal boutique, which re-opened last December.
Most of all we recognise that each market in APAC is unique. We always look to build the brand by connecting with the local client through in-depth understanding and a localised strategy. Our focus is making the brand resonate across APAC with a consistent message while taking differences across these markets into account. We must articulate our message with the same sequence – we need to pass on our brand story, craftsmanship, and our unique collections.
RiA : What’s your target customer profile in Asia and is it different across the APAC region?
Matthieu : Regardless the market, our customers have a love for beautiful things. They are men and women of substance across different generations, who appreciate the unparalleled expertise and craftsmanship of both Piaget’s timepiece and jewellery collections.
They are all individuals, who share the same values as Piaget – they embrace life and their creative spirit; with a freedom to express themselves.
RiA : As the watch industry is changing with the emergence of new brands that resonate to Millennials and Gen Z, what is your strategy for targeting this the new generation of consumers?
Matthieu : We do recognise that the fastest growing consumer segment is Millennials and generation Z, who will account for 40% of the luxury goods market by 2025.
Part of our strategy is to capitalise on our historic collections and to continue to innovate and improve on them. For example, we introduce new timepieces in our iconic Piaget Altiplano range, and we relaunched Possession and Polo S watches. These are a few ways in which we continue to rejuvenate the brand and cater to emerging consumer trends and preferences.
To reach new clients, we also must effectively communicate the brand and evolve the way we deliver the customer experience. Unlike Baby Boomers, many Millennial luxury consumers expect to interact with brands across a range of digital platforms, rather than only through traditional channels.
At Piaget, we invest in digital development to grow our presence in APAC. For example, apart from having a digital presence on Alibaba, we also launched on Net-a-Porter – we are doing more to move forward in the digital age of luxury goods.
We also recognise that clients nowadays – not just Millennials – who shop in-store expect a high-value, personalised experience. At Piaget, we pride ourselves in delivering the highest quality client services at every touchpoint of the brand. We make sure that we continuously surprise and delight our clients and ensure they have a memorable experience – brought the Ultimate Concept Watch out of SIHH to Hong Kong to clients– an experience you cannot find anywhere.
RiA : Any specific digital marketing strategies for Asia?
Matthieu : Digitalisation has been one of Piaget’s main priorities. We already have e-commerce channels in China, and as mentioned, we recently launched on Net-a-Porter – we are doing more to move forward in the digital age of luxury goods.
Digital is key in our communication strategy, especially through social media platforms. It allows us to utilise strong storytelling to communicate different aspects of our brand directly with our audience.
Our presence on social media is a great opportunity to reach a wider audience, to showcase our creativity, the richness of the brand and to convey a strong narrative with our content.
We work with carefully selected influencers who share the same values and aesthetic and develop ongoing in-depth relationships with them, just as we do with our brand ambassadors and friends of the brand.
RiA : Can you tell us what the Sunny Side of Life Philosophy is and what the idea is behind it?
Matthieu : The Sunny Side of Life is our brand philosophy and it embodies the core values that Piaget shares with its clients. To live on the Sunny Side of Life means to live life to the fullest by embracing audacity, elegance and boundless positivity.
It is an ode to joy and beauty, and it’s about embracing your passions and individuality. For Piaget, this philosophy is reflected in the pioneering spirit of our artisans, whose visionary designs have put the Maison at the forefront of watchmaking and high jewellery. Piaget’s watches and jewellery encapsulate the inspirational feelings associated with warm sunlight and uplifting destinations, and empower our customers to unlock a world of endless possibilities.
We recently had an event in Hong Kong to celebrate the launch of Sunlight Escape, our High Jewellery collection. We transformed The Murray, the former prominent government building in the heart of Hong Kong, into a glowing sunlit destination, a place where summer sun never ends and nights have the bright intensity of day.
Our new salon concept was first launched in Rue du Rhône boutique in Geneva – a perfect fit with the distinctive extravagance and audacity of Piaget. This contemporary new setting promises to be a unique experience, where it evokes the brand’s “Sunny Side of Life” mindset.
We have also introduced the Sunny Side of Life concept to the Mandarin Oriental salon where it is decorated as a blissful, tropical-themed environment, where guests are encouraged to celebrate life’s most radiant moments by embracing audacity, elegance and boundless positivity.
RiA : In what way does the Possession collection embody the Philosophy and who are the female customers that Piaget is targeting?
Matthieu : Piaget celebrates the Sunny Side of Life philosophy with the Possession collection. This is one of our iconic collections for women, featuring captivating turning rings, bangles, pendants and watches. The colourful stones on these pieces add a splash of colour to any outfit along with a sense of optimism, playfulness and energy. The rotating rings in the Possession collection – such as the rotating bezel of the timepieces and the stones that turn freely on itself in the bangles and the pendants – reflect the independent and empowered women who wear the pieces. They are always on the move.
The Possession collection embodies a positive attitude, playfulness, creativity and a love of beautiful things. It has been very well received by our existing and new clients, and we also see a new group of younger women wearing Possession.
They love the idea of stacking their Possession pieces to mix and match different coloured bangles, pendants and rings to create something unique to their style.
RiA : We have seen Doutzen Kroes as the new face of the Piaget brand campaign, and Olivia Palermo – International style icon collaborating with Piaget once again to showcase Possession. Can you elaborate on their contribution and association with your brand?
Matthieu : Doutzen Kroes is the face of our new Brand Campaign. She is beautiful, elegant, strong and charismatic – she perfectly embodies the Piaget woman. One of Doutzen’s key values is freedom and this is one that she shares with Piaget – whether it be freedom of thought, style or expression.
The Brand Campaign is a celebration of natural beauty, strength and power, and is also accompanied by a film that follows a day in the life of a jet-set woman, showing her as one that is as radiant as the Piaget watches and jewellery that she wears. The Possession collection is about energy and femininity, we really feel these are characteristics that Doutzen has in abundance.
As a model, creative director, philanthropist and entrepreneur, Olivia is a dynamic force in the world of fashion. She puts her own distinctive spin on everything she does – for this reason she is the perfect woman to embody the Possession collection.
Olivia balances so many different talents – for example, she styles her own Piaget shoots and creates each perfectly effortless look. She truly demonstrates that the Possession collection is the ultimate staple for the stylish woman’s wardrobe.
RiA : What’s next for Piaget in Asia?
At Piaget, our ambition is to have a well-balanced portfolio to differentiate our client offering. Both watch and jewellery making have been the cornerstone of the Maison and our goal is to continue to innovate by offering remarkable watches as well as elegant and extravagant jewellery collections. We need to capitalise on our brand DNA – watchmaking expertise – while putting increasing emphasis on jewellery. We are focused on becoming a top jewellery brand and making the brand incredibly desirable.
In addition to reshaping historic collections such as the Piaget Altiplano and Possession, we are constantly coming up with new collections and continuously updating our ranges to offer clients an extensive and exceptional array of products to choose from. We aim to keep on exploring and inventing the infinite and unexpected possibilities of creation, working with gold, engraved and sculpted, hard stones and exceptional gems in order to turn them into beautiful works of art.
Our priority is really to raise the awareness of the rich assets of the Maison. It has a very unique personality and we want to make that known much more. We have a very interesting balance between elegant and audacious creations, and going back to the origin and our DNA, it’s a brand that has always been driven by a very positive energy, a shared joy and audacity. And that’s really what we want to bring forward, what we call the sunny side of life.
Retail in Asia will keep an eye on Piaget’s new collections to understand more and more how heritage meets innovation at Piaget to craft timelessness.