TrueFacet sees its latest launch as a salve for the struggling luxury watch and jewelry market.
The marketplace for certified pre-owned luxury watches and jewelry will debut its new “Brand Boutiques” Tuesday, a special arm of the site devoted to selling brand-new items from 16 hard-to-find brands like Fabergé and Fendi, whose e-commerce presence is minimal at best. For some, like Les Artisans de Genève — who said it’s been courted by various major online retailers — it will be the first time their products are available online.
It’s an interesting move to make for brands, opting for a platform less established than Yoox Net-a-Porter or Farfetch, who have made waves in the luxury space by merging a high-end user experience with services like speedy shipping and returns. And it’s definitely a far cry from Amazon, who can afford to partner with companies on this scale, but creates issues around protection or bespoke control the industry requires.
Unlike many of these sites, TrueFacet has the brands best intentions in mind and respects their heritage, said John Issac, the creative director of Les Artisans de Genève.
For brands, carefully controlling their image, an opportunity not always granted by larger companies, is part of the appeal. Net-a-Porter, for instance, maintains the same branding across their site, and features little more than a short company bio as far as storytelling goes. They also determine exactly which items (and how many) are featured on their site. Working closely with the TrueFacet team, on the other hand, has allowed brands to curate their collections, provide visuals and help develop special content surrounding their boutique.
In some cases, that content will emphasize the processes and history behind these brands, as in the below editorial featuring Italian jewelry brand Nanis. Other formats will feature interviews with celebrities known for wearing the brands, or focus on larger trend stories.
An example of brand-centric content on TrueFacet’s new Boutiques site
“Each designers’ page is true to the brand,” said Dana Rebecca, the founder of Dana Rebecca Designs. Indeed, TrueFacet interviewed all designers involved and their teams to ensure that all original content would be in line with their larger branding.
But, according to Tirath Kamdar, TrueFacet’s co-founder and CEO, it pushed back when necessary, too. “If they want to keep telling the same story they’ve been telling, they’ll end up stuck with the same results,” he said. What does good content look like in this space? Less technical and craft-related detail that no one understands, especially in regards to watches, and more emotional storytelling, he said — also video, lots of video, which they’ve used previously to educate readers on their authentication process and more.
“These brands aren’t thinking about their consumer and how to cater to specific audiences,” he explained. “Younger audiences are into refreshing and reinventing their lives; we’re going to tell you why an item is really cool and will better your life.”
And it’s not just greater wallet share these brands are looking for — it’s a means to regain control over the growing secondary market. “Our authorized stamp and price-control helps the brands get a hand on their digital market,” said Kamdar, noting that they’re very worried about their brand integrity at a time when unauthorized third parties can sell their products through sites like Amazon and Ebay. Fendi timepieces, for example, can be found with heavy discounts in droves online, which can decrease the brand’s overall perceived value. On Amazon, for instance, one of their watches is discounted 55 percent, selling for only $399.
Going online also means brands have access to customer data to an extent they didn’t have previously.
“We have a lot of consumer data that they don’t have,” said Kamdar, noting that the industry has been trying to avoid the digital transition for as long as possible.
It was with that data that Kamdar first started courting brands eight months ago, revealing new insights into their respective consumers as well as analysis on their company’s current market standing.
TrueFacet’s younger audience added to the appeal. The average age of their shoppers is 34, while 28 percent of that audience is under 30 — their fastest growing market, up from 12 percent just last year.
TrueFacet’s new Boutiques landing page
“TrueFacet has a lot of traffic, especially among the younger affluent, which is why the partnership is very important for us,” said Issac.
“You can’t depend on older audiences to stay relevant,” said Kamdar, referring to the demographic that these companies have long been targeting.
These brands may also feel there’s no other choice but to experiment with younger companies, giving the state of the market. As Bain has reported, the luxury watch and jewelry subsector saw a 5 percent revenue decrease in 2016, citing a shift in consumer expectations, competition from smartwatches and a decrease in European tourism. Deloitte’s Swiss Watch Industry Study from 2016 revealed a similar trend, with the number of watch executives feeling pessimistic about industry outlook doubling from the year prior, at 82 percent.
Conversely, the resale market, which is TrueFacet’s bread and butter is booming, growing 82 percent over the last three years and expected to reach $25 billion in sales by 2025. According to Kamdar, TrueFacet has quadrupled its sales year over year since launching in 2014.