Hans-Werner Kaas, a senior partner at the prestigious McKinsey & Company consulting firm says that average car buyer visits just 1.6 auto dealerships before making a purchase, down from 5 dealerships only 10 years ago. “This is the most dramatic change we’ve seen in the auto industry and how people buy cars in the last 50 years,” says Kaas.
Simon Soaf, General Manager at Mossy Volkswagen in Carlsbad, California, has witnessed this change himself. “Those days of going to six or seven dealerships to shop for a car are over. It is not going to happen again. Customers are more savvy,” he said.
There are many reasons for this change in buying habits. Cars are still a practical necessity. In a difficult economy, people want to arm themselves with as many facts as they can before they make a decision on an expensive but necessary item like a car, a major appliance, or even a healthcare provider. When money is tight, customers don’t trust sales people any more than they trust Congress. They want to make their own decisions.
Watch Retail Industry Continues to Expand
One product category seems to be bucking this trend. At a time when automotive and electronics dealers are consolidating, watch manufacturers are actually expanding, adding brick and mortar stores at a rapid pace. Just a few years ago, about the only place you could buy a fine watch was at a reputable jewelry store. Now, all the major watch manufacturers are opening their own stand-alone physical stores.
Go to any major shopping mall and you will see impressive brick and mortar stores for well-known brands like Omega, TAG Heuer, Swatch Tourbillon, Officine Panerai, Montblanc, Cartier, Audemars Piguet, and many more. Most of these brands sell through online retailers as well.
The Watch Buying Experience
Is there a reason why people are purchasing watches much differently that they purchase cars? Many experts think it is because watches are no longer a necessity. Nobody needs a watch to tell the time any more. They have their cell phones for that. Watches have become a fun discretionary item. Low to mid-priced watches are considered a fashion accessory now. They are often impulse purchases made to match a particular outfit.
High-end luxury watches are a little different, but buyers still seem to like to do their shopping in physical stores. A luxury watch is a status symbol and buyers often consider themselves to be timepiece connoisseurs. They are a lot like collectors of fine art in this regard. Going into a well appointed store and talking with a knowledgeable sales representative is all part of the process for these high-end buyers.
Watch Buyers vs. Car Buyers
A luxury watch and an economy car can cost just about the same these days. However, while frugal car buyers do research in an effort to find reliable transportation at the best possible price, watch aficionados are more like art collectors. And the fashionistas who are buying more affordable watches just want a stylish accessory that matches their new dress. These shoppers are more concerned with whether the watch is cool than they are with the price.
When watches were essential as timekeepers, shoppers bought them for essentially the same reasons as they bought their cars. They needed a watch to tell the time. The irony of the situation is that now that wearing a watch is no longer a necessity, watches have become more popular than ever.
About Gevril Group
Gevril Group, watchmaker and wholesale watch distributor, is the exclusive U.S. agent for exquisitely designed and crafted European luxury and fashion watch brands, distributing and servicing some of the best affordable luxury and Swiss watches and trendy fashion watches. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair, staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. Contact Gevril Group by email or by calling 845-425-9882.
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