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Strategy

Hublot and the era of e-celebrations

In order to celebrate its 40th anniversary during the pandemic, Hublot prepared a few surprises to its online guests, by inviting some great names on the web to blow its e-candles. It was the opportunity for Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of the brand, to talk about future challenges to come.

Cristina D’Agostino

By Cristina D’Agostino02 décembre 2020

60,000

Hublot watches produced per year

20,000 CHF

Hublot average public price

150

Hublot boutiques in 2025

Hublot chose to celebrate its 40th anniversary live on the internet (DR)

Hublot turned 40 years old on Monday 23rd November. The big celebration that had been scheduled for a long time at its manufacture in Nyon was replaced by a digital happening online, gathering “hublotistas”, with champagne and chocolates sent to each guest. This choice was forced due to the difficult pandemic and Ricardo Guadalupe used the opportunity to go over the milestones of the past eight years during which he has been leading the brand. A commemoration that marks four decades of constant growth, mainly driven by his duo with Jean-Claude Biver, punctuated by great marketing “coups” and partnerships known to be difficult to sign. Kylian Mbappé, the artist Orlinski or the Swiss star chef Andreas Caminada were there to blow the candles.

Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of the Hublot brand since 2012 (Gabriel de la Chapelle)

Today, Hublot will have to adapt to a new complex decade, where the path to success has changed. European markets are struggling, Asia is leading, digital sales are on the forefront and clients are more volatile than ever. In an exclusive interview, Ricardo Guadalupe talks about the challenges Hublot will have to face.

Recently Hublot celebrated its 40th online and postponed its festivities. How did it go for you?

It was an interesting experience. We chose a live format upon invitation. On November 23rd at 3 pm Swiss time, more than a thousand people from around the world connected, mainly clients, retailers and a few members of the press. It was a full-scale test which allowed us to develop this concept further, in order to create an Instagram live for example. With our five million followers, we would have an important audience.

What do you miss the most?

Obviously physical interactions, as Hublot is the most famous brand when it comes to constant event activations around the world, particularly with football or Ferrari. We would have loved to create a major event at the manufacture, and I hope we will in 2021.

Kylian Mbappé, ambassador of the brand, had wanted to say a few words during the live event organised on November 23rd (Jean-Baptiste Mondino).

You haven’t activated these experiences for the past eight months. What learnings can you gather on the future marketing strategy?

We had to manage this situation, to be creative, we have of course seen that digital tools allowed us to access the consumer. We have accelerated the opening of our e-commerce website in June. But we cannot simply wait for the client to walk through the door of our boutique, be it digital or physical. We need to anticipate, offer an experience, communicate through digital. Getting closer to the consumer has been an important lesson for us.

Can you give us an example?

The Classic Fusion model specially created for the 40th anniversary of the Hublot (DR) brand.

We aim at being more exclusive. Of course, we have rescaled our events in boutiques, by maintaining them thanks to very strict sanitary measures. But we have also offered digital Happenings, by creating targeted activations with a champagne house from the LVMH group like Dom Pérignon, Krug and Veuve Clicquot to offer both a digital and a tasting experience to some key VIP clients. We entered a new era, even though I hope concerts and big football matches will resume.

You used to travel the world several times a year, always in contact of your clients. How have you managed the forced lockdown?

It’s frustrating. Those few months without travelling made me rethink the relationship with clients.  From then on, we have setup ways to maintain constant contact. The LVMH Watch Days will take place at the end of January. They happened in Dubai last January, and they will be digital in 2021. Real television studios have been setup for zoom conferences. Each brand will be able to communicate according to its standards.  

Hublot’s 40th is also a personal opportunity to think about your own career. What are you most proud of?

To have built the manufacture. When I joined Jean-Claude Biver in 2004, the brand had 25 employees, and everything was being subcontracted. To have been able to build a manufacture spanning two buildings with 400 employees, including engineers and watchmakers capable of supplying our own materials, our own movements make me proud as this is most complex to achieve.

Ricardo Guadalupe and Jean-Claude Biver formed a duo for nearly eight years at Hublot, from 2004. In 2008, Jean-Claude Biver was the architect of the sale of the brand to the LVMH group for 500 million francs, owned until then by Carlo Crocco, the founder of Hublot (80%) and Jean-Claude Biver (20%). (sandrobaebler)

What will Hublot’s direction be for the next 40 years?

For the brand to be part of the five Swiss brands that matter.

What is its current status?

If we look at the Vontobel bank ranking, all Swiss brands included, Hublot is tenth. If we observe brands with a public price exceeding 10,000 Swiss francs, we are fifth.

How do you hope to achieve this?

By keeping innovation going, in the art of fusion. A watch can’t just simply show time. We need to bring perceived value and of course a level of quality to our movements. We will grow in our caliber verticalization, going from 30% to 75% inhouse movements on a mid-term period.

How many watches do you produce today, and will you increase volumes and average price?

The Hublot boutique in Tokyo, on Ginza Avenue (DR)

The average price will increase according to demand. We follow sales on a daily basis. There is of course an exclusivity limit we can’t surpass. We produce about 60,000 watches today with an average public price around 20,000 Swiss francs. We will increase it according to the quality of materials and verticalization but also through our boutiques. In China, we are going through an important development phase with currently a network of ten boutiques in our name. We are thinking about opening between ten and twenty additional boutiques there. In total, we account for 700 points of sale in the world and a hundred boutiques, but we will reduce our points of sale network to 500 retailers and increase it to 150 boutiques in 3 to 5 years. Regarding e-commerce sales, if they stabilize around 2 and 3%, I will be happy. The boutique remains key to discover the Hublot universe. Our audience is young. We prefer to capitalize on traffic and have our future consumers dream, even though this means being less performant on our sales conversion rate.

Speaking of which, what is your strategy to communicate with young audiences? Will we see Hublot develop important partnerships in eSport?

Yes, we are working on it. This year we have already sponsored the Ferrari eSport Championship. We are studying perspectives in different fields linked to our usual partnerships like football for instance. Our partnerships have always been thought through according to the way we access our audiences, according to the country. Therefore, eSport is part of our considerations.

Football - Greece-Sweden match UEFA EURO 2008 Group D - Wals-Siezenheim Stadium, Salzburg, Austria - Player substitution chart (Action Images / John Sibley)

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