Here's a watch that tells time differently, with a tiny spot lines each of the unique cloud-shaped hour and minute hands. It's not the cheapest one on the market, but what's attractive to many young Chinese timepiece enthusiasts is its exclusivity. If you can't find the specific marketplace selling it, then you haven't got a chance.
This is a Triwa limited-edition design under exclusive collaboration with byFresh, a fashion e-tailer brand founded by one of China’s fashion bloggers called Freshboy.
The Swedish brand, founded in 2007, aims to transform the humble timepiece by focusing on elements such as uniqueness, creativity, fun and humour. After launching its fastest-selling product – a limited-edition watch that features the hair of US President Donald Trump as hands – in April, Triwa is planning the launch of a Brexit watch with British politician Boris Johnson on it.
While looking for inspiration outside the industry, the brand is also finding new ways of distribution and marketing. The success of the brand is entirely its engagement with consumers, said Mark Parker, executive chairman of International Lifestyle Brands Group which distributes Triwa in Asia, to Campaign.
“If you look at today’s modern purchasing pattern, it’s shifting. China is probably at the very front-end of the shift, where people may wander in a physical store, try something on, take a picture, then look at the website—or a WeChat store, Tmall or JD—and they’ll buy it on their phone. It’s all about direct consumers.”
Unlike most brands hiring high-paid KOLs like “fresh meat” to endorse their products, Parker said Triwa goes in a different direction by collaborating with those that have the same values with the brand, whether they’re musicians, artists or writers.
“We’ve been focused on a selective number of physical retailers that have great engagement with opinion drivers. Not professional KOLs, but people who appreciate style, their friends see what they wear, and then they’ll go and buy,” Parker said.
The future is about authenticity and not about reach, he said. “The influencer industry is changing. The consumer is smart enough [to know] that just because somebody posted about something doesn’t mean they’ll go and buy it. Besides, the price relative to what’s being delivered, from a commercial perspective, is very high. I don’t think most brands are getting a return on their investment.”
For Triwa, the collaboration with Freshboy (part of a partnership with the retail consultancy Red Ant) is on Look, a fashion cross-border e-commerce platform in China, which as Parker said, is a platform that can get the brand's message out to their mutual audience.
“In such a competitive market like China, everybody is trying to get consumers’ attention, so you should have a genuine message that’s worth listening to. That’s why for us picking the specific channel that we can communicate a specific message on about our specific product is important,” Parker said.
He said Triwa uses different platforms to target toward different audiences that align with its partners. It has WeChat public accounts for general engagement with consumers, and would consider short-video platforms like TikTok if necessary.
Another important marketing channel Triwa has heavily invested in is travel retail, which serves to spread the brand message, get consumers curious and engage them on their travel journey.
“We have collaborations with DFS, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines, so if you go abroad, you’ll see our products," Parker said. "A lot of people get introduced at Cathay [for example], and then may go on to purchase somewhere else. Things are changing so we have to change with time to adapt to how they’re buying and what they need.”
Parker said Asia is Triwa's fastest growing market globally, and China is the priority for the rest of this year and next. “We think it’s a wonderful market, and it’s evolving quickly. So we have to make sure we have a finger on the China pulse and can adapt to Chinese consumers.”