Who Watches the Watch Retailers?
eCommerce Intelligence

Who Watches the Watch Retailers?

February 28, 2018 | Updated July 5, 2022

Watch selling is a fascinating niche within the clothing and accessories market because it runs the gamut from affordable to luxury brands that were traditionally sold through general merchandise or jewelry retailers. Increasingly, we are seeing watch brands build a stronger connection between marketing and online sales, just as we saw with luxury Apparel brand, Gucci.

With advertising budgets migrating online from print, we are seeing watch brands use their brand-building efforts to drive direct sales on brand-owned sites rather than hand over responsibility (and part of the profits) to third-party retailers.

Most Visited Watch Brands

These were the five most visited watch brand sites in 2017 based on average monthly traffic. The most visited site was fossil.com with almost 2M visits every month. In third place was rolex.com another example of a luxury brand maintaining control over how its products are presented. Rolex is not currently selling watches at rolex.com, preferring to direct visitors to the physical location of an “Official Rolex Retailer”. In this way, Rolex operates online more similarly to an Auto retailer than other watch brands.

The site with the second-highest volume of monthly traffic was mvmtwatches.com a relative newcomer to space that began life on Indiegogo.

Where Does the Watch Traffic Go?

We looked at a range of watch-related keywords and combined them to see which sites drew the most traffic from people looking for watches. Even as watch brands are marketing directly to consumers, Online Marketplaces are still the more likely destination for a watch-related search. Looking only at the results from organic search, macys.com received the highest proportion of watch-related search traffic almost two and half times more than amazon.com. This is driven in no small part by the Apple Watch which accounted for almost half of all watch-related searches to macys.com.

The largest beneficiary of paid search for our list of watch-related keywords was fossil.com. It is this smart use of PPC search terms that helped Fossil become the most visited watch site in the US.

MVMT Watches – A Closer Look

Sandwiched between two more established brands in terms of monthly traffic, MVMT needed to find its own path to online success. Marketing strategies are always trying to find the balance between attracting a massive target audience for watches and attracting an engaged audience likely to purchase. With year over year growth of 20% on desktop, mvmtwatches.com is making its mark in this competitive space. The site receives a higher proportion of direct traffic than fossil.com indicating that its branding efforts are beginning to pay off.

Where mvmtwatches.com stands out even more against other watch sites is the proportion of traffic it receives from social media. The site received 16% of its desktop traffic from social media with the majority of that coming from Facebook and contributions also from YouTube and Pinterest. In comparison, fossil.com received 5% of its desktop traffic from social. Even in absolute terms, the volume of social media traffic to mvmtwatches.com was 74% higher than for fossil.com.

This increased focus on traffic from social is clearly part of a well-executed strategy for MVMT. The benefits to the site come not only in the high proportion of traffic from social media but also in year-over-year gains in direct traffic and organic search as the company has been able to reduce its reliance on referrals and significantly cut back on its display ad spend.

Leveraging Non-Branded Search

As with most brand-heavy sites, the keywords used to find the site tend to be heavily branded. Search traffic to mvmtwatches.com is 90% branded meaning the keywords include the brand name mvmt in some way. Nevertheless, a good proportion of the growth in traffic to mvmtwatches.com in 2017 can be attributed to the site’s canny appropriation of non-branded keywords to acquire users.

The volume of traffic to mvmtwatches.com from the keywords watch and watches almost tripled in 2017. The site also saw increased traffic from sunglasses and watches for men.

Conclusion

Entering a crowded space can be complicated. MVMT’s rise over the past few years is founded in the brand fundamentally understanding its target audience and targeting them where they can be found. With strong competition for watch sales from Online Marketplaces, watch brands have to determine the best way to market their products. Adopting a direct-to-consumer approach enabled MVMT to cut the price of their products and address a younger, millennial audience with an affordable, high-quality fashion accessory. Finding media-savvy consumers on social networks has been a key part of introducing this young brand and will surely continue to contribute to its identity and success in the coming quarters.

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