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- 8 Mar 2010

Measuring an Elusive Return

Engaging with online luxury communities is beneficial but difficult to quantify, says Jean-Claude Biver, CEO and chairman of Hublot, from the firm’s headquarters in Switzerland.


Since joining Audemars Piguet in 1975, I’ve never left the high-end Swiss watch making industry. Well, unless you count a ten-month break way back in 1981. Either way, that makes 35 years now so I guess I’ve got to be one of the luxury veterans. After that I joined Omega from 1979 to 1981, bought Blancpain in 1982 and sold it to Swatch Group in 1992. I stayed on the group’s board of directors until the end of 2003 and took over Hublot the year after. In 2008, Hublot was sold to LVMH and I’ve kept my position there as chairman and CEO ever since.


At Hublot, we’re focused on the online revolution and we’re one of the brands to have benefitted from it the most. Over the years, our experiences online have only reinforced this view. Simply put, Hublot wouldn’t be in the position it is today without it. Social media is a very effective strategy as people who buy luxury like to be treated differently and they love the sensation of belonging to exclusive clubs. And some online communities can be precisely that. Luxury Society is one of our tools but the thing about online communities is that it’s difficult to measure their return. I do believe that the luxury industry is a more efficient and tangible community as a result though.

On the one hand, the internet is a big promoter of our industry, but on the other hand, it continues to aid the biggest threat – counterfeiting. Fakes can penetrate the market much more easily thanks to the virtual world. Internet strategies, communities and e-commerce are the biggest changes facing the luxury industry. But however you look at developments online, ultimately the luxury sector is going to grow in parallel to accessing the growth of wealth in the world.


Jean-Claude Biver, CEO and chairman, Hublot