Coca-Cola, Benetton and Gitano are joining the burgeoning fashion watch competition, licensing their brand names for lines to be introduced for the back-to-school market.
Swatch watch USA is manufacturing the Coca-Cola watches under a sublicensing arrangement with Murjani International, which holds the licensing rights for Coca-Cola apparel and accessories.
“We chose Swatch to manufacture the watches because it has the same marketing and product philosophy we have with the Coca-Cola apparel line. It understands a quality item at a reasonable price point,” said Hugh Docker, design manager for licensing at Murjani. The watches wholesale for $17.50, and will be available this summer.
Max Imgruth, president of Swatch, admits that Coca-Cola watches will be competition for Swatch brand watches, but says, “Coca-Cola will add to the overall sales potential of the company without overexposing the Swatch brand. There are certain limits with one brand.”
According to Imgruth, the Coca-Cola watches will be displayed at Coca-Cola shops in department stores and at fashion watch counters. Swatch plans a back-to-school marketing and advertising campaign for the Coca-Cola watches similar to that of Swatch Watch.
The Benetton watches are part of an expansion of the accessories area at Benetton. The company also is adding a much more extensive line of belts, bags, hats, scarves, Benetton patches and “B” pins. According to Claire Watson, marketing manager, Benetton will triple its volume in accessories this year.
The watches are manufactured by the Bulova watch company and will be distributed this fall in selected stores in the United States, Canada and Italy. Worldwide distribution will follow this limited introduction. “The watches are of bright fashion colors and reflect the Benetton image,” said an executive at Bulova. The watches will retail for $39.95. The first collection offers 24 styles in four sizes.
Hot Sox is the primary manufacturer of Benetton accessories. According to Gary Wolkowitz, president of Hot Sox, the firm will do over $2 million with Benetton accessories this year. It offers a 30-piece collection of accessories that retail between $6 and $25.
The accessories were in the Benetton spring catalog, and did $25,000 in sales, according to Annick Cooper, director of the U.S. catalog division. For the winter catalog, Benetton is adding the watchesand expanding its assortment of accessories. “For our winter catalog we could do as much as $100,000 in accessories. They are the right price point and many of our customers see the merchandise together in an outfit and purchase the entire outfit,” said Cooper.
The Gitano watches are being introduced this fall through a licensing arrangement with AKS Timewear. Haim Dabah, executive vice president of Gitano, predicts the company will do approximately $4 million with the watches the first year.
The company also is expanding its assortment of accessories for fall, adding belts, shoes and a much wider selection of scarves and gloves. “All our accessories are licensed. We receive a 5 percent royalty fee, plus a 3 percent advertising fee. This year, our accessories should do between $15 million and $20 million,” said Dabah.
The watches wholesale from $12.50 to $17.50, and the distribution will mirror the Gitano sportswearline, which is sold primarily through mass merchandisers.
The watches will be displayed in the fashion watch areas of the stores. In some stores, the accessories will be displayed with the Gitano sportswear, but Dabah believes the accessories sell better if they are positioned in the stores in their parent classifications.
“I think there is a place for Gitano watches in the market. They are substantially lower priced than most of the other fashion watch lines, and there is a Gitano customer who will buy them to coordinate with the Gitano sportswear,” said Dabah.