Three questions for Beatrice Leonhardy
Who or what inspired your interest in the jewelry and watch industry?
At first I was responsible for the photo area too at GfK since the year 2000, but my interest in the watch area prevailed with the result that I took on looking after trade in that area, among other tasks. In private as well, I have had a special weakness for watches for quite a few years and have got myself a few of them. Personally, I am especially interested in watches with self-winding and hand-wound mechanisms from certain brands. And as a fitness enthusiast at times, I of course got myself a wearable too in the form of a sport computer.
What problems/aspects (please mention three) do you think are influencing the jewelry and watch industry today?
Especially the wearables have been influencing the watch sector more and more strongly in recent years, although—according to the features of the particular wearable—only certain price classes are significantly affected at present. For the specialized dealers—jewelers and specialized watch stores—this development means an enormous opportunity but also a risk at the same time. Because at the moment, most wearables are not sold through the specialized trade. The specialized stores also shy away from including these products in their range because advising the customer about them is of course different from conventional advising.
In my opinion too, the watch sector will increasingly have to deal with suppliers from the internet. In the broad area of the internet, however, different forms of supplier have to be distinguished. On the one hand, to be considered here is the classical specialized dealer who operates a webshop in addition. Here the future will show whether the specialized trade can survive against the big suppliers: because on the one hand, the customer likes to buy from them; on the other hand, operating a webshop means a considerable expenditure of time and money.
In addition, there are the internet shops operated by the manufacturer single-handedly. These manufacturers’ shops are often criticized for engaging in direct competition with the specialized trade. Here the marketing policy of the manufacturers in future will show the extent to which this form is of interest to the manufacturer and, on the other hand, how the dealers themselves handle this situation.
At present, certain platforms are becoming more and more popular in the higher-priced segment in the internet because watches are often offered there at a more favorable price. So the future development of these platforms is influenced both by how the specialized dealers behave with regard to their own behavior online as well as how the manufacturers behave in respect of purchase commitments to the specialized trade.
What is your vision of the future for the jewelry and watch sector?
From a trading point of view, I still see bright prospects for the specialized trade in the watch sector. It’s precisely the expertise of the specialized trade which motivates many customers to buy at a jewelry store. So in future too, the specialized trade will retain the greatest share of watch sales in Germany, although the online area too will of course claim an area for itself. Wearables will be not just a short-term fashion—at least that’s how it looks to be developing—but will stay a permanent feature of the watch segment and will even increase their share.