Why should an independent retailer attend trade shows during slow economic times? Wouldn’t it be better to tend to business in the store and not spend significant dollars on travel and entertainment? Isn’t it better not to be tempted to add inventory?
The answer is a resounding No!
For retailers who sell luxury watches, there are two important reasons for attending shows. First, consumer demand for luxury watches remains strong, despite the economy. Sales of luxury watches are ahead of last year’s, so it’s important to keep inventory up to date to satisfy consumer demand. Second, shows enable retailers to see the new product and ensure that their own assortment is allocated properly. At present, there is still a shortage of supply vs. demand for many luxury watch brands, especially Swiss brands.
Luxury watch customers tend to be sophisticated and knowledgeable about the category. Those who are collectors are especially likely to keep up to date with new product introductions. A retailer who doesn’t keep up with new product risks alienating this customer, so, by extension, the consequence of not attending these shows is the increased risk of losing a sale to a competitor and weakening your reputation as a key source for top watch brands.
Another advantage is seeing, touching, and feeling all the new products and becoming more knowledgeable on a variety of brands, even those you don’t carry. Having a thorough knowledge of the watch market—including brands you don’t sell—can help you convert a customer seeking a brand you don’t have to one of the brands you do.
Networking, of course, is always an advantage of attending the shows. Meeting other retailers, exchanging views, and learning from each other how different brands are performing in their market area can be helpful. A jeweler can gauge which brands are selling, which product types are selling, and which price points are strongest, and gain new ideas for building sales in his or her own market. Travel also helps brings an air of worldly sophistication to the jeweler.
It’s also important for retailers to build and enhance relationships with the watch brands. In addition to showing their respect for the brand’s heritage and executives, it gives the jeweler a thorough understanding of “the feel of the brand” and where the brand is headed—and it also reinforces your own position as a major player in your market.