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HBR Case Study: Competing Against Bling

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HBR Case Study: Competing Against Bling

How can an understated watch brand stand out against flashier, gem-encrusted offerings in China?

Wei Song oversees Greater China for Rochat & Schmid, a 100-year-old Swiss maker of luxury timepieces. China is a critical market for the firm, but sales of watches have stalled there. The firm’s competitors are going after China’s luxury shoppers, who are younger and flashier than the traditional customer base, with new gem-encrusted products that offer "bling." To compete with them, Pearl Zhang, Song’s VP of marketing, wants to launch a campaign featuring a Chinese singer with a huge social media following among Millennials. But Simon Carbonnier, R&S’s chief creative officer back in Switzerland, is dead set against celebrity endorsements and anything that deviates from the brand’s long-term value of "understated elegance." Should Song fight for Pearl’s new campaign–or not? Expert commentary on this case study is provided by Kent Wong and Martin Ganz.

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