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!