Ebel’s artistic “renaissance” revamps watches, marketing

Ebel, one of the best known Swiss luxury watches, will unveil colorful fresh looks for its watches at the international watch show in Basel, Switzerland, that includes a new watch line called Tarawa, a new advertising campaign, and new in-store displays and packaging.

The design makeover caps the revamping of 92-year-old brand’s organization, operations, and products begun in 2000.

In North America, Ebel will use its revamped products and marketing to reach younger affluent adults, including more men and Latinos. Tawara watches and Ebel’s new packaging, displays, marketing, and advertising will be available to retailers here in May.

The changes were outlined by Randi Shinske, president and chief executive officer of Ebel USA, and Chafik, artistic director of Ebel S.A. in a Feb.12 interview with JCK.

Ebel’s “new artistic vision is really a renaissance—a return to Ebel’s roots, a reinterpretation of its artistic and emotional DNA,” says Chafik. “We’re bringing more emotion and more color, not only for Ebel’s products, but its displays, its advertising, the whole environment of the brand. It is integrated into the whole global brand strategy.”

The stress on color began in Ebel’s haute joalleire white gold and colored precious stone “Gems of the Ocean” series introduced last summer. Ebel’s high-end jewelry watches will be “the brand’s laboratory,” says Shinske, for new design concepts and styles, which can be later applied in its other collections. Tarawa, for example, Ebel’s new full collection for men and women, which began as part of the “Gems of the Oceans” series.

Samples of the new looks for Beluga and 1911 will also be shown at Basel. Ebel’s other re-conceptualized lines will be unveiled over the next 12 months. “All collections will be affected by this new breeze,’ says Chafik.

The brand’s name logo (with the tag “Watchmaker since 1911” beneath it) has also been redesigned, to be “more current,” he says.

Ebel USA plans to use the design and color makeover of its products and marketing to attract “younger, more hip” affluent customers 25 to 35 years old, says Shinske. (Ebel’s traditional customers are 30 to 45.) As part of that effort, she adds, Ebel is actively reaching out, for the first time, to young adults of the U.S. “hip-hop and Latino communities.”

Ebel-whose customer mix is 70% women, 30% men-will also make “a conscious effort” to attract more male customers with additional watches that are “a little bigger, bolder and a little more technical,” features that also appeal to many women customers.

Ebel currently has 384 doors in North America (almost all in the United States). Its long-range plan is to increase that to 400 to 450 doors in the next five years, with most of the additional outlets in Canada and in the western United States. The main goal, though, isn’t more doors, but more business for the stores in its network, says Shinske.

The brand will add in-store “Ebel corners” in five more retail jewelry stores this year. (It already has two in Alpha-Omega stores in the North East.)

As part of its marketing effort, Shinske will hold a seminar in Napa Valley, California at the end of February with officials of 10 of Ebel USA’s key retailers. They’ll review the market, discuss ways to marketing to consumers, and preview Ebel’s new products and marketing.

Ebel is owned by LVMH, the French luxury goods conglomerate.