Research on VC Client base

Dear members of the Hour Longe,
I'm a MBA student at the IE Business School in Madrid. For a course called 'Strategic Management in Luxury Industries' I'm participating in a project about Vacheron Constantin. My initial task in the project is to obtain information about the VC client base.
My questions are: Who are the VC customers, are they 'luxury' clients or more the 'connoiseurs' that value the brand? What would you consider the (emotional) benefits of owning a VC? What is the customer mindset in the luxury watch industry (price sensitive? loyalty to a particular brand for life?) What makes in your view VC different from competitos such as Patek Philippe or Jaeger-LeCoultre?

I would be very thankful if anyone could give me information about these issues or tell where search. The final objective of my project is to provide a recommendation regarding the strategy of the company, knowing its customer preferences and the industry is necessary to assess the possibilities. 

Many thanks and sorry for 'intruding' in your discussion forum.

Best regards from Madrid,
Hello Rocia and welcome. Good luck on your research. You have a fine
09/21/2011 - 15:43
panel of VC aficionados here but not sure that we represent the majority of VC enthusiasts (sometimes the net is extremely different from the real world). To answer your questions: - Who are the VC customers, are they 'luxury' clients or more the 'connoiseurs' that value the brand?  Depends but here on the Lounge more connoisseurs - What would you consider the (emotional) benefits of owning a VC? the pride of owning some of the best made watches - What is the customer mindset in the luxury watch industry (price sensitive? loyalty to a particular brand for life?): You can have communities which are loyal to one brand but in my case my mindset is just getting watches which I find offer something different, may it be in technical or aesthetical terms  What makes in your view VC different from competitos such as Patek Philippe or Jaeger-LeCoultre? I wouldn't put JLC as competiotion because they just don't have the same history in haute horlogerie but the big difference with Patek is in my opinion is the high quality movement finish from the entry level to the high complications as well as more modern designs
Dear Rocio,
09/21/2011 - 21:25
my advice is that you just walk around our Lounge and feel as home in our liittle club! You will not be alone, we have about 60.000 visitors a month, even though we are one of the 'smallest' brands! It's such immense question, that we can't explain it, being an old medical student, I know .....choose one of the alternatives smiley: alternative a b c d e Alex, who first answered, is actually business lawyer, and I'm a doc as you understand, we have been living in this world for 15 years or more! I understand your question, and I'm a bit proud that you chosen the utmost watchmaker. Vacheron Constantin will never be a brand like Rolex, who produces as many watches a year (!), as Vacheron Constantin has done since 1755! The firm will never produce more than 15.000 to 18.000 watches a year! I'm Doc. Alex is Alex laugh My advice is go to search,' topic', and ask your questions. Then you can write, Alex, Doc, Radek, LN, tick-talk , JB, Berny , Tony Chnce etc, or WHL, the later moderator of a big USA based V&C forum,  please notice the ampersand, &, which always was in the firm's name until dropped in the 1970s. Anyhow you couldn't have chosen a more exclusive brand than Vacheron Constantin. The oldest firm producing watches in the world, since 1755. That's about 100 years earlier than Patek Philippe and 85 years before Rolex started. The both latest are very aggerssive in marketing, Vacheron Constantin is the reverse! An old citation from the old firm : "A good wine sells itself". A pic of THE books, you got to read, don't think of buying them smiley they are as hard to get as the watches, and the prices are nearly the same! I recommenfd a very good library. Any questions, just write to me or anyone else, and we try to help you my friend! We are proud of your interest and you should know that every watch produced, is documented, who did it, when was it finished, who bought it, when and to what price! Enjoy life heart Cheers Doc
I would like to take a shot...
09/21/2011 - 21:44 perhaps helping you with your research. I am a customer and a connoiseur of VC.  In general I love watches a lot, and VC is my favourite brand. VC has a history and heritage which is second to none (save perhaps Breguet), but what does it for me could be summed up in two words - "Balance" and "Warmth". Quite often you see a brand launch a timepiece which is so advanced mechanically, that they totally forget the aesthetics; at times it is the opposite, beautiful aesthetics and mediocre movement. Nowdays, fashion brands are launching watches, and some even place tourbillions in them etc, dilluting the value of what certain complications stand for. I feel there are too many unnecessary watches in the global market today, and too many uneducated (about watches) rich customers stupid enough to buy them. In my opinion VC timepieces reflect the best "balance" of everything that goes in a timepiece (technical superiority, aesthetics, finishing, size etc. etc.). They radiate a certain "Warmth" which I do not always see in other competitor brands. Rarity is another prized feature of VC. I think 17-20 thousand watches a year.  Even if you biuy a "regular production" VC, it is still a very rare watch.  Also, VC personnel are very friendly and VC boutiques very welcoming.  They are very nice people.  The same cannot be said for some of its competitors. As far as weaknesses are concerned, multi-brand watch boutiques do not always promote VC as actively as they should. This is my observation in places such as Singapore, and I am sure it is true elsewhere.  Awareness of the brand needs to increase a lot more with people.  Quite often I read articles on luxury, where the luxury journalist makes a statement "with watches you cannot beat Patek". They obviously did not observe VC, otherwise they would never make that comment. Or maybe they are just led to believe Patek is the best. I hope some of this helps.
Nice written, but PP No 1??
09/22/2011 - 03:05
I have been more than the many other persons to the PP Muesum, but I also have all the catalogues of Antiqourum since 1990s... Who bought the PPs ? Were the watches donated to this marvelous museum? Just a question? I'm happy as a private person to have sold some watches to the V&C Museum. Today Dom. Bernaz is responsible for the V&C Museum, once he worked forr PP, but started at V& Cheers Doc
you might be onto something, Mats...
09/22/2011 - 15:55
look what happened with the JW Packard marvel... If VC is really headed that direction, we might see a considerable increase in vintage VC value in a few years... meaning it's time to buycool
A very important, not Alex, excuse me,
09/22/2011 - 18:45
at Vacheron&Constantin, only two years ago, told me that the pocket watches, were the most undervauled of all V&C's! He had made most money in them! I personally love pocket watches, just to see the movement, without any, rotators, or in micro size, but in real size, so you can enjoy it even without loupe! Look again at the wolves teeth. Just magic to me! I'll think as you my friend Radek, that V&C is an undervaluable watchbrand if anyone. We also have Mr Torres word on that they wont make more than the ltd 15 - 18.000 watches, even in the future. That's in itself is a guarantee. If you look at Ebay, which we never do :-), you also see rising prices! Take care, dear Radek and I do hope we see each other soon Mats
Re: you might be onto something, Mats...
09/22/2011 - 19:06
Dear Alex, Doc,kk and Radek, thank you so much for your insightful answers! This really helps us a lot in getting an idea of the brand and its customers, my team mates at the project and I agree that VC has a very different craftmanship and tradition behind than other brands such as Rolex, and therefore its respective customers value different things. Reading also other post in the forum helps to get an understanding. Just a couple of questions more, to get a better picture: Is there a typical age bracket for the VC clients or are they socio-demographic similarities (income segments, locations,ect.)? Which countries are the main markets for VC or have the most fans/collectors?  Do you own only VC pieces or also other brands as well?  Owning a VC watch, in which occasios do you wear the piece (regularly, only on special occasions, every day, etc.)? How would you describe the feeling of owning a VC in one sentence? I know that some of these questions are not easy to answer or require more information, but we are primarily interested in your thoughts on this, so we can get to know you, the connaisseur type of VC customer, better. Again, thank you so much for your help! I'm sure some of your quotes will appear in our project to describe VC's client base, Doc, we wish we had your book collection for display during the presentation ;-) Saludos from Madrid, Rocio
Re: Re: you might be onto something, Mats...
09/23/2011 - 11:17
I'm in my 40s, live in a city and have other watches (not only VC) but VC remains my favorite brand. And I wear my watches on all occasions
Re: Re: Re: you might be onto something, Mats...
09/23/2011 - 14:49
Thanks Space Age for the information! Cheers, Rocio
Dear friend I was born in the end of the 40s...:-)
09/24/2011 - 16:32
Of course I love to wear OTHER watches than V&C, otherwise you'll get 'snowbound'! Today I wear one of my 2-3 favourites, a bit to thick, but in my eyes beautiful! As well as another Girard-perregaux, monopusher, with movement done by Journe... 125 pieces done, WG, manual, and last week the mainspring went, second time....The eternal problem of not using watches contiuously crying It's very important what you write, without open eyes for other beautiful watches, we can't appreciate the favourites laugh Mats
Was meant to Space Ace, of course :-) nt
09/24/2011 - 16:39
Re: Dear friend I was born in the end of the 40s...:-)
09/24/2011 - 19:53
Thanks Doc, beautiful watch pieces...
Re: Research on VC Client base
09/22/2011 - 22:01
Well I can give you a perspective from a different market segment.  I just purchased my one and only VC timepiece a little over a month ago and so you would have to put me in the 'luxury' category, although I aspire to one day being labeled a 'connoiseur.' - I am 38yo and a physician, reside in the U.S. - Currently high income (> USD250K) but that was not always the case - I most definitely would not have been able to make this purchase while in medical school - I pride myself on having worked hard for my money -- did not inherit or win the lottery - Because I haven't always had money I have always been frugal with purchases, but having said that when I do make a purchase I want it to be of exceptional quality - I have always loved watches ever since I was little.  Never started a collection because I was too cheap to spend any money (my last watch was a $125 Kenneth Cole from Macy's).  When I first started thinking seriously about purchasing a high-end watch  about 10 years ago, my eye was immediately drawn to VC because of the aesthetics of the designs.  This was *before* I knew anything about the history of the brand, the quality of the mechanisms, or the price point.  When I began to learn more about the history and quality I wanted a VC even more, but the style and raw visual appeal came first - Actual purchase was spur-of-the-moment on vacation, but like I said I had been admiring VC timepieces for 10 years - Now that I own a VC I feel happy every time I look down at my wrist.  The happiness comes entirely from within, not from showing off the watch to others.  In fact, nobody I know would even recognize the name Vacheron Constantin. - I now find myself wanting to learn even more about VC history (or should I say V&C), details of the mechanisms, older styles, etc.  I can definitely see myself acquiring more pieces -- either new models or older ones -- now that I am a member of the club. Hope this is helpful to you.
Re: Re: Research on VC Client base
09/22/2011 - 22:59
Dear nsmrb18, thank you so much for being so open and telling your experience with VC. It certainly helps us knowing the customers and their values. Hope you get to start your collection soon :-)  Best, Rocio
Re: Research on VC Client base
09/23/2011 - 14:39
Rocio   Welcome to the Lounge - I have to say that your project seems like a fun, I’d love to have such an assignment... See below my answers to your questions:  Who are the VC customers, are they 'luxury' clients or more the 'connoiseurs' that value the brand? As Alex said, most Loungers should be categorised as connaisseurs. Although I do not know as much as my fellow Loungers, I would still categorise myself as a connoisseur as well.  What would you consider the (emotional) benefits of owning a VC? Being able to enjoy an amazing piece of work, having the satisfaction of being able to look at it every day. I also quite enjoy the fact that, despite a VC watch being a luxury item, it is not (in my opinion) a status symbol – the watch will not be noticed by 99% of the population, and 99.9% will not know the value of the watch. Although I’m enjoying wearing and looking at my little treasure, I do not feel like I am trying to show off (as opposed to be driving around in a Ferrari).  What is the customer mindset in the luxury watch industry (price sensitive? loyalty to a particular brand for life?) This very much depends on each individual. There are many that will be enamoured by one brand, and will only buy from them. I have watches from other brands, but Vacheron is by far my favourite brand.    I am price sensitive. As much as I love luxury watches, I still have problems justifying spending that much money on them, and there’s always a little part of me that feels a little bit guilty, thinking I could have invested that money in a wiser way. Also, there are a few watches that I would have considered buying two years ago, but with the subsequent price increases, I now feel that they are too expensive for what they are.  What makes in your view VC different from competitors such as Patek Philippe or Jaeger-LeCoultre? In my opinion, VC makes the beautiful watches in the world, and the finishing on their pieces is amongst the best in the industry. Comparing VC to Patek Philippe, I think that Vacheron’s watches are more beautiful than PPs’, they have more flair and are more original. I find the style of PP’s watches to be too conservative, sometimes boring. By the way, see below a chart from a broker report giving his views on the positioning of luxury watches. This chart is a bit dated, and I personally don’t agree with how he’s positioned some of the brands, but it does give a good overview of the luxury watch industry – hopefully you’ll find this helpful.  Is there a typical age bracket for the VC clients or are they socio-demographic similarities (income segments, locations,ect.)? To state the obvious, given the price point of VC’s offering, one has to be relatively well off to be able to afford one. Re typical age, I think that it would be safe to assume that the majority of VC’s clients would be aged 35 and over (my guess would be that the majority of VC’s customers would be aged between 40-60) – by then people tend to be more established and financially stable, and therefore able to spend more on luxury products. Having said that, there are quite a few Loungers that have a VC abd are aged between 20-35 (I’m still in the under 35 category, although not for long...)  Which countries are the main markets for VC or have the most fans/collectors? Alex might be able to give you more precise information, but historically Western Europe and the US have been VC’s key markets. However, over the last few years Asia has become a much more important region. I would think that all the BRIC countries have become key markets for VC. VC has a very strong position in China, being perceived as the no1 brand, above Patek Philippe.  Do you own only VC pieces or also other brands as well? No, I also own watches from other brands. My first purchase was a Baume & Mercier (back in 2001), and I also bought a Hublot Big Bang a few years ago.  Owning a VC watch, in which occasions do you wear the piece (regularly, only on special occasions, every day, etc.)? I wear my VC watch every day of the week, at work. During the weekends I’ll wear my Hublot, which is a more sporty/relax watch.  How would you describe the feeling of owning a VC in one sentence? How about one word: Fantastic!       Good luck in your project!   Cheers,   Francois 
Re: Re: Research on VC Client base
09/23/2011 - 14:48
Francois, thank you so much for all your insighs!  Saludos, Rocio
The best summary I have ever seen. Nt
09/24/2011 - 13:51
Re: Research on VC Client base
09/26/2011 - 05:32
Hi, I cannot claim to be a connosseur.  And actually as some here will know, I cannot even claim to be an owner of VC (YET!).  I feel VC was missing somehting in the last few years of new releases but recently have developed some really interesting watches to make me pay attention again.  I am still waiting around to find the my perfect VC from auction, a pristine Historique Chronograph which has long been discotinued. One observation for Asia.  I live in HK.  I am very friendly to an AD here which also runs the VC boutiques.  He said that by comparison to other top top brands, VC is extremely popular with Chinese from the mainland, rather than local Hong Kong population or expats.  It is also no doubt that if you walk around China, VC commands an even better image than Patek.   Thanks, Justin
Re: Re: Research on VC Client base
09/27/2011 - 15:52
Hi Justin, thanks for the insights from the Asian market!
Some more responses Re: Research on VC Client base
10/05/2011 - 06:41
Hi Rocio, I don't know whether you are still harvesting answers, but here are a few brief --and late-- responses to your original post.  Best of luck with your research project.  PAY I consider myself more a "conniseur" than a "luxury consumer."  Much of my life is decidedly non-luxury! The emotional benefit of owning a VC, for me, lies in knowing its long history as a watchmaker and the consequent expertise and experience, extending not only to know-how but also to "know what" and "know what not" to do.  VC makes watches of the highest quality with the right amount of elegance and innovation. Mindset: Brand is gnerally important to me in so far as it represents a commitment to stand behind a product and that I see evidence that a company whose profit derives from quality does not ever forget that connection. Price is a big factor as far as how many watches I can afford, but it is not a factor in deciding which brands I prefer. What makes VC different?  I would love to own a PP or two, but their advertizing, in particular the volume and breadth with which they plaster their slogan (you know it, about the "next generation...") is an enormous turn-off for me.  I simply cannot get past the many full page glossy ads and for me it undermines the product, which I know is an excellent one.  By contrast, VC has class, for lack of a better term. Age / demographics: I am a 45 yo American male, married w/ children, PhD in astrophysics, occupation: Professor; I have lived and worked both in Europe & the US and currently reside in the NYC area. Coutries/markets: no idea, no data, sorry. My collection: I have a small collection, mainly IWCs; I have 2 VCs and no intention of having that number get smaller. Wear habits: I tend to wear a VC just a few days each week.  No special occasion is needed.  I would probably wear a VC more often if I owned a more 'casual' model, but I am holding out on getting an Overseas until VC puts an in-house movement in it smileyhint to anyone from VC reading thissmiley Feeling of owning a VC: pure pleasure ... anyone serious about watches has got to own at least one VC!
Re: Some more responses Re: Research on VC Client base
10/07/2011 - 12:59
Dear pay, great insights, many thanks! Best regards from Madrid, Rocio