The article to which Alex referred was quite intersting but I think we should recognize that Chuck Brymer is a bit of a salesman. DDB Worlwide is not a disinterested party but is very active in identifying consumer trends to advise its clients who of course, have things or services to sell.
The essence of his comments are quite relevant generally and to some extent with respect to the HL.
However, to create a distinction between swarms and herds is somewhat artificial. Brymer also points to a flock of birds who move in unison but have no leader and then proposes the question of how to deal with such an entity: Conviction of personal vision, Collaboration of the "swarm" and creativity, all good approaches.
But his examples lack persuasion particularly that of "Apple Computer" Anyone need only visit an Apple Store to see a herd, swarm, flock, gaggle etc. mentality. People "swarm" to Apple" because its cool, their friends have it; in other words considerable peer pressure. The products themselves, which are good, are aimed at a age group were peer association rather than individuality is more important.
Personally I feel that Adobe Corp. would have been more appropriate. Here is company which makes products, "par excellence" which are extemely powerful and an excellent value (ie Photoshop, Lightroom to name two) for those who use them, both amateur and professional. Their products have an amazing and loyal following and a large one too. How did they get this way? They listen. They listen to individual users, photographers of all kinds to develop and modify their products. Lightroom is an excellent example. For many months before the final product was released, Adobe invited everyone who was interested to try in free of charge and write back with comments, likes and dislikes, recommandations, changes, etc. It was a giant testing ground, better than a "beta-test". When the final product was released, it was very impressive. The important thing here is that the company realized the real heart of their business... provide a product that was excellent in quality, make it work without significant problems, do what it was designed to do as easily as possible and please the users of their software. They succeeded remarkably and it is a wonderful product, developed in part by the users themselves (a bit like Linux). Adobe succeeded because they treated their users as people, as individuals and listened to them rather than regarding them as some amorphous group and treating them with disdain. By the way, their customer support is also first rate.
The interview with Chuck Brymer skirts around one important issue, (excuse the cliche), that this is the age of information.
The fact that people are better informed about almost everything is crucial. Thatt hardly categorizes them as part of a "swarm". People now have access to search engines and libraries worldwide where almost anything can be found. They also have access to opinion from friends, collegues and "experts" so that formulating an idea about something is much more comprehensive. Not everyone avails themselves of these opportunities but the options are there. The result of course, is an informed individual who now is also a knowledgeable consumer, hardly a part of a "group-think". This situation applies everywhere including medicine where a knowledeable patient knows the right questions to ask and is able to seek justification for any treatment instead of accepting it blindly.
Nevertheless, there must be a balance with ones own limitations, otherwise why would anyone seek professional help for anything, be it law , medicine, or home renovation.. A little knowledge can be a dangerous think if used in the wrong way. I am pointing out simply that with more information ann individual ends up being involved in any decision making rather than merely the recipient.
Now, personally, I believe that marketing is an important feature of a product. With respect to VC, I have met individuals such as Julien Marchenoir and Veronique Briand, wonderful individuals who know their products and are committed and dedicated individuals. And I believe their work is essential. How one goes about using their skills is what separates some companies from others and what I believe makes some companies more successful and their clients/customers more loyal.
My personal feeling is that Vacheron is much more like Adobe that they are like Apple or Harley Davidson. The fact that they wanted a group like HL speak to that fact. I don't think they wanted necessarily a paean to their greatness, but rather ideas and reflections on their products, positive and negative.
This is a very diverse group with members worldwide, with divese interests, occupations and incomes and they are well suited to comment on Vacheron products since most own them, have owed them or will own them. But it is not a swarm mentality but a collection of distinct individuals who often agree, disagree, or agree to disagree about many aspects of Vacheron. Now no one, least of all Vacheron, believes that the people who visit HL own no watches other than VC's. There are many fine manufacturers producing great watches. But I believe that Vacheron, through some very good and very informative advertising has whetted the interest of people interested in buying a watch, enough to make them seek furlther information, from AD's, from websites, like this one and from Vacheron representatives. I think that VC is very forthcoming in its advice and recommendations with honesty and absence of bullshit. Sometimes a prospective buyer will look elsewhere but most often they will be impressed by Vacheron's history, attitude, support and most of all the beauty and quality of their timepieces. I believe that VC is fairly unique in this approach for a company of its size.
An informed consumer who is treated with personal respect soon becomes a loyal customer and his words of praise for the product he owns is priceless.
Is there "conviction, vision and creativity" with Vacheron? Undoubtedly!
Is there "collaboration" avec le swarm humain" ? Non!
Ce qui vaut le mieux, c'est le valeur de tout individu. C'est inestimable!