Things are ticking up for the U.S. women’s watch category. According to new data from NPD, between January and May of this year, the segment increased 2 percent year-on-year, resulting in the sale of nearly 7 million units. The past three years saw a lag in revenue as brands focused marketing resources on other segments. This pushed female consumers to purchase oversize options traditionally found in the men’s section.
“While we have been tracking the growing trend of women buying men’s sized watches for some time, sales of smaller watches for women also skyrocketed this year,” said Reginald Brack, luxury and watch industry analyst for NPD. “Some brands with a traditionally male focus are now hiring female celebrities to be brand ambassadors in their advertising, with Tag Heuer going so far as to dub 2018 it’s ‘year of the woman.’ These and other efforts by watchmakers are working to focus women’s attention on some traditionally male-centered brands.”
Manufactured holidays they might be — but Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day served as integral shopping opportunities. According to the NPD data, “Strong Valentine’s Day and Mothers’ Day holiday watch sales were primary contributors to the sales increase, with especially strong performance in January and April during the run-up to those holidays.”
The most overarching, popular brands were Michael Kors and Rolex, suggesting that brand identity remains an attractive feature to shoppers. What’s more, consumers are perhaps shifting their perspective on cost — opting for more expensive and premium styles. The onslaught of smartwatches also likely played a role in the boost in sales, the spokesman suggested.
“Sales of watches priced under $300 declined six percent in January through May, 2018, just as Michael Kors — the leading brand within this price segment — fueled its investment in the smartwatch category by pricing them at $350 and higher,” an NPD spokesman said. “Due in part to this strategic shift, the $300 to $1,499 price segment garnered the majority of sales in the women’s watch category.”
Consumers weren’t scared off by hefty price tags, either. “Women’s watches selling for $10,000 to $25,000 rose 17 percent over the previous year, while sales of watches selling for $25,000 and more grew 16 percent,” the spokesman said.
The biggest sellers in the luxury sector? Rolex and Patek Philippe; Audemars Piguet and Piaget saw growth, too.
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