On September 12, 2019, China’s largest Panerai boutique was officially unveiled at Shanghai K11 Shopping Art Center. On the day of the unveiling ceremony, Watch House was honored to interview Mr. Benoit de Clerck, Global Sales Director of Panerai, and had an interesting exchange on topics such as Panerai’s current domestic development trends and future new product trends.
Mr Benoit de Clerck, Global Sales Director, Panerai
Watch House: China’s luxury industry is booming. According to a Bain report, mainland China will continue to dominate the global luxury market. Do you agree with this view? How do you see the Chinese market? Do you have any future plans for China?
Mr. Benoit de Clerck: Yes, the Chinese luxury goods market is currently in a period of rapid explosion. At this stage, we have seen that the choice preferences of different consumer groups in China are also changing. For the relatively younger generation of consumers in China, their choice of watches is more inclined to high-end sports watches. This trend is very beneficial for Panerai, such a well-known high-end sports watch brand. Therefore, China is a consumer market that Panerai pays great attention to, and will also make some expansion plans for the Chinese market in the future. We will choose high-quality partners and high-quality shopping malls to lay out sales channels.
Watch House: We know that Panerai recently opened a flagship store in Shanghai, which is also the largest Panerai store in China. Why choose the location of the flagship store in Shanghai? What are your expectations for the Chinese market?
Mr. Benoit de Clerck: Shanghai is a very beautiful metropolis. As China’s economic center, Shanghai has a very good luxury environment and is one of China’s representative cities, so we opened a flagship store here. If there are suitable opportunities later, we are also looking forward to opening Panerai boutiques in other cities.
Watch House: In terms of e-commerce, what will Panerai do to advance?
Mr. Benoit de Clerck: E-commerce is one of the focus of the brand. It works with offline sales channels to provide customers with complete sales services. So far, the feedback is good, and we believe this channel will continue to develop. Although the online channels are virtual, they can be served online 24 hours a day, which has effectively helped us strengthen our brand promotion efforts.
Watch House: How is Panerai planning to attract more young people?
Mr Benoit de Clerck: Millennial customer groups are important to Panerai. Because Panerai is a pioneering brand, we are positioned as a premium sports watch. In terms of design, Panerai is very in line with the aesthetics and preferences of the younger generation. In terms of innovation and use of materials, Panerai has also been at the forefront of watchmaking.
In our Neuchâtel watch factory there is a workshop (Laboratorio di Idee) that presents innovative materials every year. EcoTitanium ™ watches, BMG-TECH ™ metallic glass watches and CARBOTECH ™ carbon fiber composite watches were launched this year. Their biggest features are impact resistance, wear resistance and very light weight. The use of these innovative materials is of great interest to young consumers.
Watch House: You have worked for many luxury goods companies. What is special about Panerai in your eyes?
Mr. Benoit de Clerck: I have previously worked for some other luxury goods companies. Panerai has a long history and strives for innovation in the iconic classics. For me, the difference is that its brand DNA is very personal.
Watch House: At this year’s Geneva International Watch Fair, Panerai launched three special edition watches, each of which has its own unique meaning. What do you think is the benefit of this special model for Panerai? Will there be more such special models in the future?
Mr. Benoit de Clerck: At this year’s Geneva International Watch & Clock Fair, we launched 3 special edition watches, each of which offers an exclusive experience for customers who buy them. So far, two exclusive experiences have been completed: In early September, in La Spezia, Italy, 33 customers who bought a Panerai SUBMERSIBLE MARINA MILITARE CARBOTECH ™ stealth series carbon fiber watch-47 mm (PAM00961) participated in Italy Navy Submarine Commando (Comsubin) training experience; at the end of September, 15 people purchased the Panerai SUBMERSIBLE sneaker watch GUILLAUME NERY EDITION Guillaume Neri Special Edition (in Moorea, French Polynesia) ( PAM00983) customers experience free diving with Panerai brand ambassador Guillaume Nery. The launch of these three special watches cannot be measured in a conventional sense. They represent unique experiences that cannot be bought with money. We will continue to launch special edition watches with unique experiences in the future, so stay tuned.