Alexander Bennouna Tells Us The Importance Of Good Storytelling
Alexander Bennouna, CEO of Victorinox Swiss Army Watch, is the man responsible for transforming the Swiss Army Knife maker into a major player in the world of watches, in the 10 years that he has steered the company.
What have been the highlights of Victorinox for this year, as far as watches are concerned?
This year we have tried to celebrate the self-confident lady, who enjoys a very active lifestyle, who needs a watch that brings back power on the wrist, and also versatility, functionality and which accompanies them in their life’s adventure.
The second direction which we’re taking is very important for us. It is adding new layers to the I.N.O.X. value proposition, by bringing more technological added value. With new material, such as carbon, it allows us to make another promise by making the watch scratch proof. It’s an ultra light material, very comfortable. I think what makes this line really unique, is the value for money position.
We are also coming up with more technological material. We have had a very, very unique story of a limited-edition watch which is inspired by the Swiss army knife as well. The Swiss Army Knife is the standard equipment of the astronauts from NASA. This watch is inspired by the outfit of the astronauts. We have a titanium case, as titanium is used in space shuttles and in aviation. The dial colour is inspired by the outfit of the astronauts. Both the Swiss army knife and the watch are limited edition and can come as a set. It is addressing two kinds of audiences, the knife collectors and the watch collectors.
You have been with Victorinox for 13 years. How has the company and its watch portfolio evolved in that period?
I think what has evolved are the challenges that the watch division is facing. When I started, in the very early years, the challenge was to build up the international distribution, that was virtually non-existent. We were predominantly doing our activities in North America. The second challenge was to make sure that Victorinox would have to mean something in the watch industry. So obviously, it means quality. And we had to master our destiny to offer this quality. We had to verticalise all our value chain, down to the suppliers. We invested in a lot of resources in order to secure the quality of our collection. While we did that, we decided to gradually reduce the collection, because you need to have a critical mass in order to produce quality at a good, economical price. If we make good watches and good quality at a good price, that’s good enough — then we realized that it’s not good enough. One of my biggest frustrations was when I was meeting distributors or retailers, they would say that your watches are fantastic, but the retailer has no interest to tell the story to his client, because he has a portfolio of brands, and he wants to sell all his brands. So it’s our responsibility to tell the story to the end consumer. And that’s how we started to initiate the thinking that created the I.N.O.X. line.
I.N.O.X. Professional Diver
Tell us about your experience in the Indian market. What do you see as the future of Victorinox in India?
We have been successful in India. The consumers are quite knowledgeable about Swiss watches. And today I think we enjoy a very strong presence with 142 point of sales, which I believe for a brand in our price position is good coverage. It’s not over-traded, it’s not under-traded. It’s pretty much what it should be. The next major challenge will be to step up distribution and keep growing market share. And this is where the value proposition, and the story behind the value proposition, is very instrumental. Because if we just offer Swiss watches like all the other brands of Swiss watches, there is no differentiation. And there is no added value. So the next challenge is really to try and get this storytelling across the world.