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Survey in Japan: a liking for luxury watches

Survey in Japan: a liking for luxury watches

Tuesday, 20 May 2014
By Chantal Garbani
Chantal Garbani

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3 min read

Every two years, the FH Centre in Tokyo conducts a survey of watch purchases among several thousand Japanese consumers. Finding: the Japanese are fond of luxury and Swiss watches.

Last April, the FH centre in Tokyo published the results of a survey conducted in February among Japanese consumers aged over twenty with an interest in watches costing at least 100,000 yen (around 860 Swiss francs). The previous survey, carried out by the specialist company Yano Research Institute Ltd, dated from 2012.

In 2014, among more than 10,000 people selected online according to purchasing criteria for different products, more than 6,000 said they had purchased a watch. Of these, more than a third indicated they were interested in watches costing more than 100,000 yen. The sample used for the present study covers 1,500 respondents.

Compared to 2012, the survey shows that the proportion of consumers owning two or more watches is down, falling to 76.7% from 78.7%. The number of people owning five or six watches is up however by 1.9 points (to 20.3%) for men and by 1.8 points (to 17.2%) for women.

As in the previous survey, brands worn by respondents are mainly Japanese, namely Casio, Seiko and Citizen, in order of preference. Next come the Swiss brands Omega, Rolex, Swatch, Gucci, Bulgari and TAG Heuer.

Asked about the purchase price of their favourite watch, 16.2% of those polled (compared to 19.8% in 2012) indicate a price range of between 10,000 and 30,000 yen. Answers between 30,000 and 150,000 yen show a sharp upturn, rising from 35.8% to 41.8%. Purchases of watches costing more than a million yen are up across all age categories, clearly illustrating the interest for luxury timepieces among Japanese consumers. In particular, the survey reveals a preference for «authentic» products among young people.

Nearly half of those surveyed bought their timepiece in the watch section of a department store, particularly women (56.7%). 41.1% made their purchase in a specialist shop, 28.5% in a discount store, 21.7% online, 18.1% in a duty-free shop, and 10.7% in a brand boutique. All forms of distribution are down against online sales, which rose by 1.1 point.

More than 64% bought a classic watch. Men prefer sports or multifunction watches (41% and 37% respectively), while women opt for fashion or jewellery watches (51% and 33%). Automatic watches are the most sought after and show an upward trend (46.4% versus 44.6%) at the expense of quartz models (38.9% versus 42%). Manually-wound watches show little change (14.7%). As regards the origin of the watch, 36% prefer a Japanese watch and 35% a Swiss watch. While 78% know that Switzerland is the “kingdom of the watch” – especially those aged between 40 and 50 – half of young women between the ages of 20 and 30 are not aware of this.

Sixty percent of those questioned carry out research prior to buying a watch, particularly men between the ages of 30 and 50. The Internet and brand websites are particularly popular for this purpose. Women are more inclined to choose their watch at the time of purchase, in a shop. Products on display and ads in magazines are also important in the decision-making process for buyers.

Regarding future purchases, 36.2% of those questioned would opt for a product costing between 100,000 and 300,000 yen, an increase of 1.4 points compared to 2012. The Rolex, Omega and Cartier brands remain favourites. Design of the timepiece is important for 60% of respondents. In addition, 70% thought that the increase in sales tax – up from 5% to 8% in April 2014 – was unlikely to influence their decision. Similarly, future purchases would not be dependent on a recovery of the Japanese economy.

The detailed results of this survey can be consulted in English and Japanese versions on the website of the FH Centre in Tokyo: www.fhs.jp.

Article published in Revue FH

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