THE ‘ANTI-EXTRAVAGANCE’ CAMPAIGN
Europa Star: Everyone has a different take on the impact of China’s anti-corruption campaign on watchmaking. What exactly is the situation? What concrete effects has this campaign had – from an economic point of view, certainly, but also on people’s attitudes?
Julie Laulusa: The anti-corruption campaign began to have an impact on sales in mid-2012, although at that point the effects were relatively mild. In 2013 things began to snowball, with the result that sales fell sharply, by around 30-40%.
That year, sales of high-end watches were estimated at $653 million, the same figure as 2004! This was no coincidence: the luxury watch, a discreet and yet greatly appreciated gift, had become the symbol of corruption. Bloggers and contributors to internet forums, in publicising the campaign, accentuated the impact even further.
By 2014 the market had begun to stabilise, recording a drop of around 5%. Swatch was the exception: sales of its iconic plastic watch rose by 15%! At the same time, exports of Swiss watches to China increased in value by 15%.
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