Four Questions to Vincent Montalescot - Executive Vice President Marketing at Montblanc
The brand, the strategy, a glimpse of the future
At last SIHH we sat down with Vincent Montalescot, Executive Vice-President Marketing of Montblanc to talk strategy, new products and more. Mr. Montalescot has been in Montblanc for more than a year now and brings a long experience made at Adidas. He is an expert of brand and marketing strategy, gained outside the luxury industry, at least when it comes to luxury watchmaking. I had the chance to ask Mr. Montalescot four questions regarding key topics, like the brand's product launch (we just reviewed one of the new timepieces, the Geosphere Limited Edition), present and future strategy.
The first question concerns the management of such an extensive product portfolio, which ranges from the luxury pen, Montblanc's original business, to watches, through leather goods.
According to Mr. Montalescot, the brand is the umbrella of all collections. Each new product, for example, a chronograph or a world timer, is functional to the growth of Montblanc's brand awareness. In a recent comment posted on our Facebook page, regarding our hands-on review of the Geosphere Limited Edition, a reader affirmed each new timepiece should carry the Minerva logo instead of the Montblanc's, in order to foster Montblanc's prestige as a watchmaker.
It is instead the other way round. The Minerva manufacture, fully integrated into Montblanc, is somewhat functional to the growth of Montblanc's brand awareness as a true watch manufacturer.
The second question concerns the Richemont Group, how they can manage such a broad brand portfolio, how Montblanc fits into this context, avoiding any product overlap.
The answer lies in the organizational structure of the Richemont Group, where a cross-brand department oversees the correct management of all the brands, whose task is to avoid product and image overlapping, with the necessary support of all the brands' marketing departments. Mr. Montalescot affirms that all the brands compete each-other while behaving like brothers and sisters when it comes, for instance, to share technologies and best practices.
I would be more than curious to attend one of these meetings and see in person how are these problems managed. Product cannibalization and overlapping are a common issue in any large industrial group; in some sectors, like the automotive industry, it often affects product placement and brand image. Here is an example from watchmaking: both Montblanc and IWC launched collections that combine a bronze case and a green dial. Mechanical complications, customers and sources of inspiration are different (the world of outdoor and exploration rather than vintage aviation), yet the risk a customer perceives them as a joint project is there and has to be carefully managed.
The last question has then triggered my next one: since new collections and colors came in, what is today the brand color to associate to a Montblanc watch?
No doubt, It keeps being black and white, although new colors are coming in.
The green Pantone that comes with the 2019 Montblanc 1858 will inspire other collections, while new colors and hues, in line with Minerva's timepieces from the 50s and 60s, have been added to the brand communication, as is the case with the salmon dial on the stunning Heritage Pulsograph Limited Edition.
As a scuba diving enthusiast, I remember that Montblanc once made a professional diver's watch. Is there any room for such an experiment, shortly?
The answer is, again, in the brand's DNA: the founders of Montblanc, three people from Northern Germany, traveled to the US to study the market, they then traveled back home and created the brand.
Although it boasts a long-standing history, Montblanc has a pioneering spirit and is always open to new things, given they can play as an expert and be always consistent with the brand's values.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Peter Tung)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®