If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that adaptability is key to survival. We had been awakened from a lull, pushed out of our comfort zones, ultimately forcing us to reconfigure our lifestyle habits from the way we communicate to the way we consume entertainment. With physical distancing a new reality, the digital realm has gone from being something of a novelty and convenience to an absolute necessity.
As a luxury watchmaker, Hublot also has had to make a few adjustments of its own too. "We had to adapt and reinvent ourselves in many different ways. Digital is really key in all dimensions; it was important before the pandemic but it's even more important now," notes Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot.
He cites the recent LVMH Watch Week where Hublot joined Zenith and Bulgari to present their latest novelties, as an example. "It's strictly digital so we had to figure out how to bring quality content into the presentation. We also have to reinvent our relationships with our customers since we couldn't meet them face-to-face. We did a virtual exhibition to celebrate our 40th anniversary last year and just launched our Murakami watch via a live broadcast," he adds.
"Of course, it will never replace physical presentations but it's an evolution in the right direction. I believe these changes will still be valid even after the pandemic."
What was the real challenge of the pandemic for you?
Learning the new know-hows—like this Zoom interview! It’s a lot of work even for me to have to adapt to these new tools.
What are the biggest lessons of 2020?
That we have to be agile, make decisions quickly, and be innovative and creative, which were already the philosophy of Hublot anyway. It just that we have to be even more so than before in order to emerge from this crisis better and stronger.
For instance, we pushed up the launch date of our e-commerce from end of last year to July last year. It was a quick decision because we felt it could be a platform for us to talk to customers. I'd say it was successful as we started from zero. (E-commerce) represents only a tiny percentage of sale but we're optimistic of its potential. We currently have four e-commerce hubs—Europe, US, China and Japan—and we definitely see bigger potential in China as the younger consumers there are extremely digital savvy. Each time we did special online editions which were very exclusive, they were snapped up right away in China.