So it's that time again. BaselWorld beckons and once again the hustle is real. I am writing this from the newly revamped press area that is adjacent to Hall 1 (translation? Too much space left unoccupied). There are some very, very weird vibes. Obviously we hope that the fair will be good, successful, etc. But I would be less than forthright if I did not say that there is a palpable whiff of anxiety hovering around the area. So we shall wait, and we will see. More to come, stay tuned!
So news broke on Friday that the Festina Group had acquired the assets and intellectual properties of Anima, the parent company of Kronaby.
So, in essence, Festina has acquired the former darlings of the connected watch world. And have done so at a fire sale price. Here is the release exactly as it was forwarded to me by another journalist -
Madrid - Spain, March. 08,
2019 – Festina Lotus SA has announced today that it has entered into an
agreement to acquire from the Bankruptcy Estate of the company Anima AB, their assets
and intellectual properties, including the hybrid watch brand Kronaby. Anima
AB, based in Malmö, Sweden – designs, develops, manufactures, markets and
distributes the hybrid smartwatch brand Kronaby. The acquisition, subject to
certain conditions, is expected to be finalized in March 2019. Several of
Anima/Kronaby functions and operations will be integrated into Festina Group.
The ten-person Research & Development team focusing on Application, Cloud
and Analytics development will remain in Malmö. The acquisition has been
conveyed by Trägårdh's law firm, Malmö, Sweden.
"We are happy to be able
to find a solution together with Festina Lotus SA. They have a long experience
of the watch and jewelry business, and we believe that the Festina Group will
bring great opportunities and vision to the Kronaby brand and the technology it
is based on” says Pål Borge, co-founder of Kronaby. "The capabilities of the
Festina Group are so much more extensive and we look forward to see the
development of the Kronaby brand in the future.”
The President of the Festina
Group, Miguel Rodriguez, commented, "It is an important acquisition for
us, we not only bring in a new brand to our existing portfolio, we also take a
step into the smartwatch segment. Kronaby has proved to be one of the best
hybrid smartwatches in the world and the newly integrated people and technology
will play an important role in the strategic future of our Group. We all know
that the world is constantly changing and connected devices are something we
all have around us in our daily life.”
So what does that mean for the staff at Kronaby? Well, suffice it to say, the word around the campfire is that most of them will be contacting their local unemployment office.
I have to say, in all honesty, that this is one of the most dramatic rises and falls in this business that I have seen in the time that I have been involved in it. And if I am really honest? It didn't have to go this way.
So what went wrong? Probably a lot of small things, each one on it's own not enough to sink the ship. But like a poison pill, you swallow it, and slowly it makes it way through. But at it's root? This was a fairly fundamental misunderstanding of how the watch business actually worked. And that was evidenced in several areas including marketing, sales and PR. Inevitably, a few fundamental things have to happen:
1. Your PR function needs to actually LIKE the press and be willing to communicate with them, rather than just hang onto the good looking influencer at the party. Because, curious to relate, it is the press who will get your product and message out there.
2. Your marketing has to try to shake off millennialitis. This can be challenging, because all of the data tells you that millennials represent a huge buying group. This is true, but as a group? They are not really buying watches, with, perhaps, the exceptions of Apple and Samsung watches. Your marketing team needs to message to people with actual money who will actually spend it on your actual product.
3. Your sales team needs to understand that merely opening a store is not the same as actually selling watches. If watches are sold, they actually need to be paid for, meaning that, in theory, monies should be received by your HQ in a reasonable amount of time. The watch business is a goofy one, and one that all too many people think that they can outsmart, and they ultimately get their heads handed to them for their trouble. A store on memo is going to pay Richemont, LVMH, SWATCH, everyone else, and finally, eventually, maybe you. But most likely not.
Kronaby was a wonderfully charming, romantic story... until it wasn't.
Okay, I've held off on posting for awhile because there hasn't been much new or interesting to swim into my "in box". And the stuff that has managed to wiggle its way through has reminded me that sometimes people make poorly informed decisions. Today's mail brought a reminder, asking me to confirm my attendance at Brand X's world premier launch of their new watch that will, apparently, "mechanically heal" me. Now as the odometer passed the half-century mark this past July, I am interested in all of the healing I can get, mechanical or otherwise. Curious to relate, the press release and the video give absolutely no indication exactly how this nifty new watch will achieve this miraculous impact on my health, but clearly no expense was spared on the video itself, it's quite lovely. So your launching this amazing watch that is going to be revolutionary in its ability to improve your health, where should you hold the press conference? Why a cigar bar, of course! Because when being healthy is one of your primary concerns, what better way to engender that feeling than to cram a bunch of journalists into a closed-off, smokey room! Clearly, the communication portion still needs some work ; )