Luxury watch subscription programs; trend or fad?
22 March 2021
Max Savransky

As a Breitling owner, I was quite interested in their recently launched proposition called Breitling Select; a subscription based watch trial concept. Let’s take a look at a bit more detail.

The proposition

The concept revolves around the ability to trial (that is, wear and potentially buy) watches without having to outlay the full cost before seeing how it looks on your wrist over a longer period of time.

Those who have bought luxury watches before may relate to the cognitive dissonance that can result from liking something in the shop, but realising that you don’t actually like it all that much after some regular wear.

Upon joining the program, members can select up to 3 watches to wear over a period of 12 months. Minimum wrist time per watch is 1 month, maximum is 6 months. The member must send a watch back before receiving the next one. Outside of that, it’s completely the member’s choice.

The details and friction points

Cost: There’s a one-time subscription fee of US$450. However, there is also a recurring monthly fee of US$129.

  • Friction point: This is a US$1,998 outlay over 12 months for the ability to essentially wear 3 watches.

Points: Breitling also offers members a currency called Squad Points, which will accumulate with every month that a member continues to be part of Breitling Select. Breitling will apparently then take into account the value of those Squad Points, should the member decide to purchase a watch.

  • Friction point: It is unknown how many Squad Points will be earned per month, nor is there a way to determine the redemption value of said Squad Points.  

Offers: After 2 months the member will receive an offer to purchase one of the watches they’ve worn.

  • Friction point: It is unknown what the potential offer discount might be, or whether the subscription outlay will in some way be credited against the offer price.
  • Friction point: The watches are refurbished, rather than being new. This may prove jarring to customers who are after a new timepiece.

The missed opportunity

The program itself is a really good idea for two reasons:

  1. It opens up the brand to those on the fence about forking out thousands for a luxury watch
  2. It encourages existing customers to explore more of the collection

Of course, it also provides Breitling with valuable member data on likes and dislikes across their range.

However, the execution is sub-optimal, also for two reasons:

  1. By using a combination of currencies (dollars and Squad Points), there is needless complexity within the design. One or the other would be quite sufficient.
  2. There is a high level of opaqueness into the value proposition, making it quite difficult to understand how to extract value. This may well prove a barrier too high to overcome for many, unless Breitling decides to revise this.

The conclusion and recommendation

When designing any kind of structured membership program, the principles of Simplicity and Value are absolutely critical. Letting members quickly understand how the program works and how to extract value is the foundation for sustained engagement.

Test and retest the concept and if you find that extensive mental arithmetic is required to understand program elements, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board. It is much better than launching a program that is unclear.

A much more palatable proposition would be to charge the monthly subscription, but set all spend against any eventual watch purchase over that same 12 moth period. This is easy to understand, encourages trials and provides clear value.

Executing in this way would go a long way towards making this concept a trend, rather than a fad.

<a href="" target="_self">Max Savransky</a>

Max Savransky

Max is the Chief Operating Officer at Loyalty & Reward Co, the leading loyalty consulting firm. Loyalty & Reward Co design, implement, and operate the world’s best loyalty programs for the world’s best brands. Max has consulted on 40+ projects and has previously held roles at Mastercard Loyalty, Pureprofile and HOYTS. Max leads the implementation and operations business functions, specialising in all aspects of loyalty consulting and program management.

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