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Jacob & Co. - A Force Awakens: Part 2

Jacob & Co. A Force Awakens: Part 2

In the final part of his interview, Jacob & Co.'s new CEO Benjamin Arabov shares key data-driven insights about the global ultra-high-luxury consumer and drops tantalising hints about an upcoming product collaboration (spoiler alert! — it's related to the world of cinema)

Jacob & Co. is not a company that takes its cues from the rest of the industry. You see this in its watches — audacious in their design, using traditional watchmaking techniques in exuberant new ways. Their new CEO, Benjamin Arabov, is the tech-native under-30 second-generation leader poised to take the company through this defining period. 

Last week, in the first half of this comprehensive interview with WorldTempus, he outlined the digital transformation of the family business, demonstrating how his strategies — unprecedented in high-end watchmaking — allowed Jacob & Co. to have its best year ever in 2020. In the second half of his interview, Benjamin Arabov goes into deeper detail about the profile of the international ultra-high-luxury customer. These are not speculations or anecdotal observations, but data-driven conclusions drawn from one of the most ambitious and focused digital market analyses that you'll hear about in luxury watchmaking. 

Read on to discover how Jacob & Co. locates its international clientele and adapts its communication strategy accordingly, the most expensive Jacob & Co. watch sold through social media channels, and the watch that accompanies Benjamin Arabov on his mission to revolutionise the industry. 

We talked a little about audience segmentation before. What are some of the particular differences that you’ve observed in purchasing behaviour between markets? Or is it more or less quite homogenous once you start talking about customers of ultra-high luxury?
There is a bit of a difference when it comes to the amount of research somebody does, for example. We find that people in the United States or Switzerland tend to do a lot of research — keep in mind here we’re talking about the very small percentage of people who can afford to buy a watch that costs hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. They do a lot of research before buying, whether it’s research on the brand or on the product —basically everything. They need to know about it. Whereas somebody in China or the Middle East would be more reactive. They see something, they love it, they buy it, and they don’t need to have that much information about it. We try to cater to that and put more information out there for those who want it.

Interview of Benjamin Arabov, 1st Part

Benjamin and Jacob Arabov © Jacob & Co.

One thing that we understand about ultra-high luxury consumers is that they are highly mobile. Perhaps not so much in the past 12 months, but that aside. When you talk about different types of purchasing in different markets and geographical regions, how do you go about attaching these analyses or insights to customers in terms of where they’re based — because in a sense they’re not really based anywhere.
That's a good point. We rely a lot on the data that we receive from Google Analytics, Instagram Insights or Facebook Data Portal to tell us where users are connecting from. Secondly, when we receive digital inquiries — let's say through email or phone calls — we have a column in our CRM (customer relationship management) system that requests location. So if somebody's reaching out to us through a web form on our website, they have to put in their location. That really helps us as well because we know where the inquiries are coming from and then we can react accordingly.

Interview of Benjamin Arabov, 1st Part

Benjamin and Jacob Arabov © Jacob & Co.

I apologise in advance for this super basic question, but we just have to ask — what's the highest value watch that you've sold through social media?
There was a situation where one client saw a million-dollar watch on Instagram, purchased that and then directly because his first purchase, got to know about another million-dollar watch — and bought that as well! So we basically made a two-million-dollar sale from our activity on social media, just because he saw something he liked that he wasn’t aware of before. And he wasn’t an existing customer before that. This happens a lot. Another customer saw one of our watches, also on Instagram, and then bought it just like that, a $600,000 watch. Everything handled digitally, over the phone.

On that basis, do you still think it's important to maintain physical locations in different markets?
Yes, I think so. You still want to address the needs of people who like having that personal touch with company representatives. There are still people who want to see and feel the product. I don't think that the world or the luxury market is ready for full-on digital. We have a boutique in SKP Mall (in Beijing), and these activities are still important because you see so much traffic as a result. Even if we were to have the strongest digital presence possible, you can’t deny that there is a higher chance of purchase when people get to see something physically. Just this January, we had a client who saw the Godfather Opera on social media. He was in California and told us he would be flying into New York in two days to pick up the watch. He wanted that experience of coming in and meeting our people.

Can you drop us any hints about what’s in store for Jacob & Co. — exciting new watches or collaborations, maybe?
I'm personally extremely excited about our partnerships and collaborations. It’s helped us tremendously as a brand to collaborate with other creatives, be it individuals or companies. We love what we’ve done with Bugatti and Paramount, or Supreme. When you share the same vision of innovation and pushing boundaries, that’s extremely rewarding for us creatively.

Interview of Benjamin Arabov, 1st Part

Unique Four Time Zone © Jacob & Co.

We're expecting 2021 to be a really exciting year for partnerships and collaborations as well. Not only will we launch a new product with Bugatti, we’re also looking to expand our partnership with movies. You’ve seen the Scarface, the Godfather; we’re in talks to do something linked to three or four additional movies.

So far, the movies you’ve done are the classics of American cinema. Are you going to continue in that direction or take a more modern path?
Great question! Yes obviously Scarface and The Godfather are legendary movies, and now we are thinking of going a bit more modern. We also want to collaborate with someone in the world of art and fashion. We dabbled in that a little with the Off-White collaboration, so we’re going to continue doing that, and also partner up with a specific artist to produce a timepiece that incorporates our creativity and the artist’s creativity.

Interview of Benjamin Arabov, 1st Part

Opera Scarface Musical Watch © Jacob & Co.

Awesome. When should we tell people to start getting excited about this?
The second half of Q2.
That’s really soon! Okay, one last question — what watch does the new CEO of Jacob & Co. wear?
I figured you were going to ask that. I’m wearing the Palatial Flying Tourbillon, black on black, which I love. Actually I just ordered a new watch, an Epic X Black Titanium, also black on black, and it will be engraved with the date I started as CEO. That was a big day for me, for my father, for the business.

Interview of Benjamin Arabov, 1st Part

Palatial Flying Tourbillon and Epic X Black Titanium © Jacob & Co.


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