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The Timing of Success: How Biver Gave New Life to Luxury Watches
Vision: "One of the fundamental errors that new CEOs make when they take the helm is that they fail to build on the brand's roots and foundations that are already there," says Biver. "Instead, they try to start all over again. But when they do this, their brand becomes fragile - it doesn't benefit from the foundation and strength that history provides." To that end, Biver made it a point to build on the existing brands instead of remaking them. Creating a new fusion between old and new became his trademark, and a successful one at that. "The past became my friend and not my enemy," he says. "The past provided credibility."
Exclusivity: "I abused limited editions," says Biver. "But they did not to any lasting damage and we had it corrected." Despite his errors of one limited edition watch too many, Biver's strategy of limited distribution created high demand, thereby adding to the appearance of luxury and exclusivity.
Branding: "The key is that marketing and branding success is never due to just one element," cautions Biver. "The key is everything must be aligned. There must be total alignment between the message of your brand, between the product of your brand, between the communication of the brand and your distribution. If any of these are not in synch you will fail. If you have all these you have the tools to be successful, provided that what you produce has aesthetic emotion and appeals to your consumer." Biver implemented a unique branding strategy that utilized strategic sponsorships that created a lifestyle image - a lifestyle that complimented that of Biver's customer.
Investment: "I always tell my people now is the moment to invest, but in what?" asks Biver. "Invest in travel costs, in promotions, in research and development." During the most recent recession, Hublot's sales under Biver had dropped by 15% by November 2009. In comparison to the industry standard of 30%, however, Biver is considered to have been very successful. That is due in large part to the investments he put in while others were cutting back. "We have to carry on with our creativity, with innovation, our marketing investments and that's it," he says.
Adaption: Biver had the business sense to understand that not all markets had the same requirements and priorities, and that he would have to adapt accordingly if he wanted to be successful. He also knew that despite the fiercely competitive industry in which he found himself, competing brands could at times be found on the same side of the fight.
"Success brings satisfaction but it brings enormous obligation," says Biver. "First of this is the obligation to share. Success belongs to everyone who helped you. You are the tip of the iceberg and your team is everything that you don't see. Second, success must be transmitted to others to perpetuate and repeat this success. Third, your obligation is to stay humble because you never know what the next step of your life might be. You have success today but you might have defeat tomorrow. The Tibetans say when you have reached the top of the mountain, go on climbing."
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