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Lesson #2: “You must always keep the customer hungry and frustrated”
Biver has said his goal is always to deliver between only 60 to 70 percent of what is ordered. "I deeply believe that this is how strong brands are created, brands that last...This enables the brand to keep its rarity and cleanness," he says. "This is my goal for Hublot."
Limiting production, however, was just one factor in Biver's distribution strategy. On top of this, he uses only a very exclusive and selective distribution network of no more than 300 retailers around the world.
"We control our distribution network in the sense that we are monitoring their sell out before we sell in," says Biver. "In other words, a retailer cannot get a shipment of watches as long as we are not convinced about the fact that he has sold them and that he is not piling up stock." This has the added advantage of helping to ensure that Biver has zero stock.
Another element to this strategy was Biver's use of limited edition watches. From special events to sports teams, Biver would create a limited edition watch where they fit into his branding strategy.
"If you are a mono-product brand, you have to ask yourself how many of the same watch is a consumer willing to buy from you," says Biver. "He can buy one watch ultimately. If I make the same watch in three materials, in theory, he can buy three. But how can I get him to buy the fourth one?
"You see, when I have a customer with my watch on his wrist, I never want him to quit my brand. But if he is buying three or four watches per year, I want to remain in consideration. How do I achieve this? How do I get these people? I make a limited edition in memory of Ayrton Senna because it has a great emotional story. Or, I make one related to Alinghi, or Manchester United because this will strike a different emotional chord."
To that end, Biver calls limited editions "a necessity". Still, that comes with a caveat, he says: "Between the necessity of making a few and the evil of making too many, there is a fine balance. We lost this balance but have corrected it."
In 2010, for instance, one piece for the FIFA World Cup will be introduced. It will be limited to only 100 pieces. "But from next year on," says Biver, "we will work on additional special editions both for Brazil in 2014 and also some special editions for historical World Cups since 1930."
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