Talking Digital and Depeche Mode with Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe
These days, Hublot is looking more and more like a tech company than a watch brand. Fans of the brand “Just Can’t Get Enough”
On a recent warm summer day in New York City, we sat down with Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe to recap what’s been a whirlwind year for the brand. We also looked back on what’s brought us to this pivotal day in the Big Apple. In just one day, the brand launched their new digital boutique and announced a massive donation on behalf of Depeche Mode to charity: water. Here’s the scoop.
Hublot launches Digital Boutique
Let’s say you want a Hublot but have no time to go to a boutique, or perhaps you’re on vacation and just can’t live without that Big Bang your friend has been taunting you with? Well here’s the cure to what ails your Hublot wanderlust.
Hublot has launched what they’re calling a ‘Digital Boutique’. This new concept allows you to have (digitally) exactly the same experience you would have in a physical boutique. Via your phone, tablet, or computer, Hublot will offer three-dimensional access that will allow you to discover the world of Hublot and their collections. Within the digital store, Hublot’s Sales Advisors will interact with you and give you personalized customer service as if you were in a physical boutique.
How’s it all work? The interactions start at the Hublot Website, where every customer can ask to be connected to the Hublot Digital Boutique. You’ll then be connected (via Facetime or Skype) to the closet boutique in real time or via a scheduled appointment. You’re able to purchase during the appointment or be invited to visit a point of sale and continue your transaction. While buying watches online is nothing new, adding an immersive element to the purchasing process and staying in constant contact with your end consumers removes all the normal roadblocks to purchasing a watch.
Depeche Mode and charity: water
Later in the day, Hublot and Depeche Mode announced they together raised $1.7 million for Charity: Water. This is the third time that Hublot and Depeche mode have joined forces for this noble cause. To celebrate this achievement, Hublot also launched two new limited editions: The Hublot Big Bang Depeche Mode limited to 250 pieces and a collection of unique Big Bang Unico Depeche Mode ‘The Singles’ Limited Edition watches. Funds from the sale of these watches will be used to bring clean water to more than 50,000 people.
Started in 2010, the purpose of this partnership has been to give a helping hand to associations in need. During the course of the eight-year partnership, Hublot and Depeche mode have funded 239 projects in numerous countries as varied as Nepal to Ethiopia, giving over 80,000 people access to clean water.
It’s worth mentioning, this important work is nowhere near complete, as it is currently estimated that there are still 663 million people who do not have access to clean drinking water. The lack of this crucial resource causes the spread of disease and stunts growth in children which prevents team from receiving quality education. Since their founding 11 years ago, Charity: Water has helped 8.2 million people worldwide attain access to clean water.
Interview with Ricardo Guadalupe
We sat down with Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe in a wide-ranging interview to discuss the brands digital efforts and what’s next for Hublot.
Josh Shanks (JS): I have to admit, it seems that Hublot is turning more and more into a digital platform these days?
Ricardo Guadalupe (RG): You know, I think digital is revolutionizing our world. It’s more and more important being a brand that wants to be leaders in new technologies and new ideas from the product point of view. (This innovation starts) with our materials and interpretation of movements, but is also linked to communications, like social media and e-commerce. We thought that just doing an e-commerce site selling watches at $15-20,000 would be difficult so we tried to find something in the middle that offered an experience to consumers through the digital boutique.
JS: When does it go live?
RG: I think from tomorrow!
Alexander Friedman (AF): (The Digital Boutique) is something disruptive. What were the difficulties you had to face?
RG: I think it was really to find the right technology partner and to be able to do all the software settings. (In the end), we have this Microsoft surface with a camera and have all this content put together ready to make this experience interesting for the consumer. So that was really the biggest part of the challenge.
JS: And that’s one part of today’s program, but this afternoon you shift to music? (Depeche Mode)
RG: Yes, the fact that I was coming to New York, (I thought) let’s be efficient and do two things in one day. So, the digital Boutique was announced and of course, Depeche Mode is now close to the end of their tour and we’ve raised quite a nice amount (of money) for Charity: Water, which is the foundation that Depeche mode already choose, so it’s our second cycle (of fundraising). This time we are doing it here in New York, last time in Moscow. And we will announce today the check that we will give to Charity Water.
AF: What is the most particular expansion of Hublot this year? Is there anything new since Baselworld in terms of Market or attraction?
RG: I think the connected watch has been something new for us. Making 2,000 watches at $5,000 USD retail, even I was not 100% sure it would be a success. But I think the success is unbelievable. Because you can create something linked to connectivity through partnerships and sell it in the high-end segment. Of course, not at $20,000, but around $5-7,000 with a limited production and with a concept. In this case it’s linked to football ad the World Cup, but tomorrow it can be link to another partnership like Ferrari or Depeche mode in their next tour.
(Smart watches) are not going to be our core business, but we can do a buzz and create an additional demand. So that is something that maybe we will continue in the next years for instance based on smart watches. But in that particular sense, I think that if we come with great ideas and great concept I think there is potential to sell watches.
But we remain in the art of Fusion and (this year’s) red ceramic has been quite unbelievable. And on movements, we continue to reinterpret mechanical movements like we have done with the vertical bar, and like we have done with the 14-day power reserve. In this kind of concept of mechanical watches with this kind of value I think this is where our future is. We cannot do just a perpetual calendar or a tourbillon or a minute repeater like traditional brands, with Hublot it is not enough, we must come with something totally disruptive and different.
JS: In terms of digital strategy, how have you seen digital evolve in the last decade?
RG: As I said, it is quite a revolution, when you look at every segment. If you look at media investments, in media today we shift more than 50% (of advertising) on digital. Our customers are quite young, so we must be able to talk to them through those new channels. Storytelling is really important, in our marketing department we have now specialists in video and photography. So, it has really changed the way of communicating and the way to make business today as well. At the factory level, I think digital will transform our organization.
AF: I think you were the first manufacture to integrate photo and video.
RG: That’s correct! I think now we are going further and trying to have digital transformation at every level, even in production. We must also think digital. In every level (of Hublot) I think there is something (digital).
JS: In terms of digital, who represents the brand best for you?
RG: It depends, of course our Ambassadors today must be digital. We do not take any ambassador that is not present on Facebook or Instagram, for me today it’s impossible. If we were a perfume brand it would be ok, but for us, he (or she) must be participating in our story that we’re having. Like Usain Bolt who is quite influential. First, it is very important to use these kinds of partners who do the work also. On Instagram we are the second (most followed) luxury watch brand after Rolex. For them (Rolex) it is quite normal, but we are second, so it is quite a good performance.