Annual WorldWatchReport Says China Searches Overtook US In 2011
According to a new report by the Digital Luxury Group, a digital market research firm specializing in the luxury watch industry, demand for luxury watches in China has overtaken the United States for the first time. Slated to become available at the 2012 Baselworld trade fair, the Digital Luxury Group’s annual WorldWatchReport covers 20 markets worldwide and 40 brands, including 15 in the haute horlogerie category, where China really stands out. However, as always, the report’s findings should be approached cautiously, as they are based not on sales figures but rather on demand — as tabulated by “intentions expressed independently and anonymously by consumers searching for luxury watch brands through the world’s leading search engines (Google, Bing, Yandex and Baidu).”
Still, the fact that the study analyzed not “the Greater China region” but (mainland) China and Hong Kong separately makes the findings somewhat more significant. Other recent studies ranking China as number one in luxury demand, such as HSBC’s September 2011 paper, failed to break the region down into individual regions.
The seven main trends released this week by the Digital Luxury Group, as noted by the Moodie Report:
1. China becomes the number one market for haute horlogerie
For the first time since the launch of the WorldWatchReport in 2004, China overtakes the US to become the market with the highest digital demand for haute horlogerie, with nearly 25% of the international search market share, versus 21% for the US.
2. One in six queries are made from a mobile device
Nearly 17% of the global searches for haute horlogerie are now performed through web-enabled mobile devices. The share of mobile searches are particularly high in Japan, where it represents almost 50%.
3. IWC, Patek Philippe and Zenith are the most searched-for luxury brands
IWC (23% share), Patek Philippe (16%) and Zenith (11%) capture 50% of the demand expressed for haute horlogerie brands internationally via search engines.
4. Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak dethrones Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso
For the first time in three years, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso has lost first position as the most wanted haute horlogerie model. The watch is now in the third place behind Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak and IWC‘s Portuguese.
5. Singapore, a land of connoisseurs
Singapore is emerging as the country where consumers express the most advanced knowledge of luxury models, with 18% of the demand directly linked to model names, rather than just brand names alone.
6. Jaeger-LeCoultre acclaimed for its Gyrotourbillon
The Jaeger-LeCoultre brand captures most of the demand for tourbillon movements. In contrast, IWC – which is the most searched-for haute horlogerie brand – ranks only in eighth position, with a lower number of searches related to technical terms.
7. IWC shines on social networks
Active on Facebook, Twitter and Sina Weibo, IWC has established itself as the most advanced haute horlogerie brand in terms of social media. On Facebook, IWC maintains a high engagement rate and has a community of 230,000 fans – more than twice the size of its nearest rival, Jaeger-LeCoultre (85,000).
Luxury watch brands included in the study include A. Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Breguet, Frank Muller, Girard-Perregaux, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Jaquet Droz, Patek Philippe, Richard Mille, Roger Dubuis, Ulysse Nardin, Vacheron Constantin and Zenith. Individual markets analyzed included Brazil, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Taiwan, UK, United Arab Emirates, and the United States.