Monday, September 7, 2015

Social Darwinism and BaselWorld

As defined by the Urban Dictionary:

The concept of 'survival of the fittest' as applied to human societies.

In essence it is the belief that it is harmful to society to help those who are physically, intellectually, or economically disadvantaged. The belief that those members of society should be allowed to die off in order to strengthen the gene pool.

Sounds pretty dramatic, doesn't it?  But in many ways this is what we have been seeing in the industry over the past few years in pretty much every sector.  For the most part, none of the mid-sized  players have "dropped" yet, but in more than a few cases that is because someone with a lot of money (perhaps more money that better judgement) is continuing to pump nickels into the life support "slot machine" that keeps the lights on.

And BaselWorld will perhaps start to feel the pinch a bit more acutely as more brands "opt out" of participating.  More and more brands are choosing not to pay the steep fees and instead are meeting clients "off site" in the lobby of the Ramada and other locations.  And those paying the Ramada to have off site locations - such as H. Moser and Hautlence may, in fact, be opting only to be at the SIHH and not to come back to BaselWorld at least for 2016.

Not huge numbers when you consider that 3 of the brands joining the SIHH were not paying BaselWorld directly anyway (H. Moser, Hautlence, URWERK).  But when you consider that MB&F anchored about 1/3 of an entire wing of the Palace this past year... well that is something to consider in a little more detail.  It would stand to reason that some of the "off campus impresarios" will make even more money, but that again might be shortsighted as these folks are constantly having to reach out and recycle owing to the smaller brands who got the "fuzzy end of the lollipop" with no actual tables or stands - and chairs that the management at the Ramada went out of their way to ensure were broken.  Think about that for a moment - they paid upwards of $10,000 or MORE for, well, nothing.  Not the best environment for impressing a potential customer when they are wobbling and trying to keep their balance and not fall out of their chair while examining your watches.

Ultimately the only people who will really "pay the price" for any of this are the smaller brands.  BaselWorld will always find new or "born again" brands ready to pay the cost to be there - whether this makes good business sense for the brands or not.  The Ramada will find someone to take Hautlence and H. Moser's place, and the various off site locations will do likewise.  The world will keep on spinning. 

But... as the global watch business continues to, well, suck it, it will be interesting to see how much longer some of these brands will continue to be propped up.

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