MVMT- Reviving the Watch

Watches were thought to be a thing of the past. Starting a watch brand that specifically targets millennials in 2013, the same year as the 5th installation of the iPhone, would seem like an outlandish business idea destined for failure. Jake Kassem, one of the founders of MVMT, is quoted in a recent New York Times article stating that he likes asking individuals for the time, and almost overwhelmingly, those questioned check their phone. When the interviewer followed up on whether these results trouble him, he states that he couldn’t care less. He believes his target audience cares only about style, seeking function in their hi-tech smartphones rather than their accessories. Despite the founders bold predictions and daunting market conditions, Kassan and Kramer LaPlante dropped out of college to start fashionable watch brand targeting specifically young men.

The two friends started with a singular design in Los Angeles. They proceeded to crowdfund their original design with two Indiegogo campaigns that totalled $300,000. Since then, they have been featured on Business Insider, The New York Times, Complex, Entrepreneur, and GQ for their “timeless designs.” The founders perceived a need of an affordable fashion piece that would compete with items like Michael Kors that retail in the $400-$500 range that would break a college kid’s bank account for a mere accessory.

Tired of big brand markups and the outdated retail model, we set out to create an online-first brand. One original watch design and a successful crowdfunding campaign got us off the ground. Through social media our brand and vision grew globally, along with our company. -MVMT story

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MVMT watches have rapidly grown to a fashion powerhouse, with 2016 revenues of $60 million reported by the company, and expanding their offerings to women’s watches, in the form of MVMT for Her, and sunglasses. So how has a company with no previous brand equity grown to be a powerful player within the men’s fashion industry? The key to their success has been utilizing Social Media for marketing and reducing the costs associated with classic retail mark up to deliver a product to the consumer for less than $200 dollars. The founders believe in a basic premise: “Young adults, with their do-everything smartphones and tablets, may not need another device to help them navigate their daily existence. But they care deeply about any image enhancer that helps them pop on Instagram.”ˆ While I do not personally own a MVMT watch, I have stolen my brother’s from time to time and can say they are very aesthetic pieces that are understated yet attractive. I understand the belief that sometimes an item, an article of clothing, a pair of sneakers, or even an experience is just a statement piece for social media. As empty as this sounds, it’s an evident reality and it definitely sell product.

An advantage they have in comparison to other fashion labels is their go direct to customer business model. Utilizing their sleek website consumers can purchase any one of their Men’s and Women’s watches or sunglasses. Thus MVMT is able to cut out the middlemen, who distribute products to retailers such as Nordstrom or Bloomingdales as well as avoiding the retail markup cut that goes to the retailer. This is a dual sided asset as many young men are reluctant to go into classic department stores to search for accessory items and a watch is a piece that is easily comprehended through a simple photo online, eliminating the need to try it on as one might need to with pants or a shirt. chrono-silvernatural-leather

MVMT has positioned its marketing campaign as an Instagram first marketer. Its feed is reminiscent of its minimalistic style, featuring shots of their products in desirable exotic locations while not be loud, in your face advertisements. It’s honestly reminiscent of a Jay Alvarrez music video (if you know, you know the absurdity of it). One clearly recognizes the elusive cool factor within their feed, the ability for them to push their products as a company in a way in which that you want to follow them. Brands like Patagonia and Yeti, are similar in the way that they position their product marketing campaigns in almost organic fashions, creating content that you search out and want to view as a consumer rather than it being thrust upon you. maxresdefault.jpgInfluencers on Instagram have partnered with MVMT, generating excellent results. Sam Kolder’s Instagram has the similar minimalistic, cool guy mystic that embodies MVMT’s brand. His almost 600k follower base, also doesn’t hurt the reach of MVMT’s advertising.

MVMT has positioned itself with many endorsements both of big name celebrities, and social media cult stars. While partnering with the likes of Klay Thompson and Kylie Jenner have the effects of a massively broad reach, it is lesser known stars such as Fitness Youtubers (the fact that Youtuber is now a recognizable term still blows my mind), such as Christian Guzman (over 770,000 subs) and Steve Cook (close to 900,000) have been much more beneficial to their brand. This circles back to the notion of organic advertising as these individuals are seen as more authentic than the big name, well known endorsement like Kylie Jenner.

MVMT is an example of a well executed e-commerce brand that has successfully marketed its product and filled a market need. While there’s nothing revolutionary about MVMT’s product, it’s clear that they have effectively gotten consumer’s attention through a variety of social media.

Check out mvmtwatches.com to see more styles and check out their sleek website.

7 comments

  1. Nice post! I think some of the appeal of MVMT is that it is “by millennials, for millennials.” The founders understood their niche by appealing to some of the trends we have been analyzing in class- being reasonably priced, accessible, and stylish. However, the most interesting part of their business model to me is that their product isn’t original. I honestly would not expect traditional watches to be so popular as it seems to me that everyone is moving towards smart watches and wearables with the rise of the Internet of Things. However, I think this is a testament to their smart marketing strategy. As you highlighted, I like how they tested out different levels of celebrity endorsers to find the best match that would resonate with their consumer base. Sometimes bigger isn’t always better if it comes of as fake and doesn’t align with the brand’s image.

  2. britt_hopkins4 · ·

    I completely agree with @juliasmacdonald that the appeal of MVMT is “by millennials, for millennials” but I disagree in that I do think their product is original. When looking at one of the watches I liked, it said “Add an extra strap” which gives you to swap out the wrist band part of the watch. I think this is an awesome idea. It’s much more affordable to do this than to buy a whole new watch. In terms of their marketing strategy with celebrities, I think they’re in a pretty safe space even if something did go wrong with the celebrity. I don’t think watches will ever go away. As MVMT said, it’s a style thing. Their pricing is perfect for their audience too. Compared to some of the Michael Kors watches (https://www.michaelkors.com/watches/women/_/N-28c5) this pricing is part of the reason why they can succeed.

    1. I don’t think MVMT is the first one to offer interchangeable straps, but I totally see your point about how smart and affordable that option is. It is interesting that MVMT is moving into a changing market that now includes traditional watches, smart watches, and even fitness trackers. They are also competing with companies like Fitbit, who offer a product that has more functionalities than theirs for around the same price and who also offer different style options with interchangeable bands. Maybe a combination of a little bit of nostalgia and specific style tastes is an advantage for MVMT?

  3. m_thompson19 · ·

    When I began reading this article, I was curious to see how social media and digitization in general could come into play with a watch that markets itself as a classic watch – with no high tech functions or gimmicks. I think it is actually very smart to invest in something so simple and elegant in a world where everything seems to be high tech. Being able to escape the digital world by means of not constantly being dependent on a phone for the time is an idea that is so simple yet novel at the same time. The almost irony that MVMT has taken off because of social media is such an interesting concept. To me, it proves that there can be a marriage of high- and low-tech, of complexity and simplicity. I had never heard of MVMT before, but I might just look into buying one for myself.

  4. I think it’s so interesting that a watch company isn’t really selling watches, they’re selling an accessory that builds an image. That seems to be what has made them successful. If they were trying to just sell watches, then targeting Millenials would not have made them successful. But selling an image to Millenials seems much more intuitive. Their marketing methods also seem really strategic and clever. Choosing celebrities who will reach the specific population they are targeting is probably much more effective than just choosing a popular name who will reach more people but fewer of the target demographic. Nice post!!

  5. Nice post. Sort of surprised to see the watch make a comeback, but it is very useful.

  6. It’s very interesting to see that a company like MVMT is making watches look cool again. Admitedly, although I find my iWatch very useful, I tend to switch watches when I go to nice events. I also like how MVMT has priced their watches and am a fan of their look. I am also impressed with the amount of influencers and following that the company has.

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