Ask a 30 Under 30(ish) Honoree: How to Attract the Next Generation of Enthusiasts
In the first installment of a new series, Watchonista asked our inaugural 30 Under 30(ish) honorees what they believe the industry needs to do to attract new clients.
As the demographics and political landscapes surrounding the watch industry change with each passing day, it’s not only necessary to embrace that change but get insight from the very people at the forefront of that shift.
So, with Watchonista 30 Under 30(ish) List honorees ranging from watchmakers to auctioneers, from influencers to photographers, we decided to put some questions to the next generation. And to our surprise, despite their diverse backgrounds, their perspectives reveal far more similarities than differences.
The question we are focusing on today is:
What does the industry need to do more of to attract the next generation?
“First, it would be great to focus less on references or collections and to bring more beautifully designed pieces at an attractive price to market.
“Second, host events with young customers and CEOs; that way, they can directly exchange thoughts and open a dialogue. Boutiques can be like a castle, and people don’t know if they will be warmly welcome or not. It is so important for a brand to engage the community in a different way and let them discover a brand in an approachable way.”
Check out Andrea's Instagram page: @andreafurlan.ch
“I feel, fundamentally, watch brands should do more research when it comes to designing modern pieces. There seems to be a disconnect between the brands’ design versus what younger people (or simply new enthusiasts) are gravitating towards.
“I’m not saying that luxury watch brands should adhere to every single trend; staying true to a certain ethos and aesthetic is what has allowed brands to transcend momentary trends and remain relevant. But I’d like to see more intentional design for my demographic.”
Check out Brynn’s Instagram page: @dimepiece.co
“It’s a good but complicated question, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. That said, it always makes me happy to see brands, media, and other collectors welcome new enthusiasts into the fold without judgment. Since the early days of my Instagram account, I’ve had ‘say no to watch snobbery’ as the tagline in my bio, and it’s still something I feel very strongly about.
“I still remember how hard it was to work up the courage to go to a watch event. I remember vividly what that apprehension felt like, and I try my best to make others feel welcome as a result, regardless of what they like and who or what they know. There are always new corners to explore and new rabbit holes to fall down. That’s part of the beauty of this hobby.
“So, whenever I meet anyone looking to ‘get into’ watches, I always try to be encouraging. Taste is personal, after all, and having more knowledge than someone else isn’t some big accomplishment – it mostly just means you’ve been around for longer.”
Check out James’ Instagram page: @waitlisted
“I think the younger generation find it increasingly important to feel unique and define their personal identities, so finding a watch that represents their personality/style/lifestyle is key to getting them into the hobby. Brands like Cartier that release new models which are heavily inspired by their vintage pieces is a good way for younger people to both gain access to and afford a timepiece.
“Horology attracts people with a certain type of personality. There is no need to give it the hard sell because being able to own a piece will naturally turn anyone into a fan.”
Check out Lung Lung’s Instagram page: @lunglungthun
“In the last two years, we have seen an influx of younger generations join older generations in the watch collecting hobby. It’s changed the whole industry.
“Starting with more micro watch brands that are at a lower price point (but still attractive and mechanically impressive) is a great way for more people to join in. Also, more collaborations like the Moonswatch produced by Swatch x Omega. I think price accessibility is key.”
Check out Zoe’s Instagram page: @watchgirloffduty
“I once thought affordability was the key to entry into the vastness of the watch world. Everything from design, manufacturing, and product information has become transparent and shared almost instantaneously. New customers and fans will look to own timepieces in nearly any price bracket so long as they feel a special connection to it and there is something exciting and new being offered. The days of only delivering a material and movement checklist are over.
“I believe watch brands need to offer value through the unique characteristics of their watches – especially if they are unexpected. Or possibly a new way of viewing the time, such as the many timepieces that MB&F produces.
“But I personally believe there is a caveat to this way of thinking and creativity. It needs to be done in a tasteful and balanced way. A brand can quickly alienate themselves if they reach too far into a new fashion or if they lose brand consistency, which I believe is crucial to long term growth and recognition.
“The final and most important factor to attracting a younger customer/fan would be brand engagement and customer service. The younger generation doesn’t want the sale to end at their watch purchase. Rather, they way to continue the dialogue with the brand as they continue to enjoy their timepiece for many years to come.”
Check out John’s Instagram page: @johnferrer