How Rolex Turned an Inferior Product into a Hot Seller

In the late 60s, Rolex was nothing special.

They were just another watchmaker.

But then something happened that flipped the watch market upside down.

Seiko unveiled the Astron – the world’s first “quartz clock” wristwatch.

All of a sudden Rolex’s watches looked dated. Basic. Even cheap.

Rolex knew they had to do something fast… something drastic.

Otherwise their goose was cooked.

But rather than follow the herd and pour resources into developing a quartz watch of their own, they went sideways.

They created a new niche of their own.

How’d they do it?

They promoted the fact that Rolex watches were ‘mechanical’ as an advantage. 

A mark of craftsmanship, complexity and expense. 

People wanting those identifiers flocked to the Rolex in droves, turning it into the iconic watch we know it today.

The marketing lesson from this?

Your product doesn’t have to be technically superior for it to be the premium choice.

Like Rolex demonstrated, complexity sells.

It’s one of the secrets to how Joe BluBlocker Sugarman shifted so many calculators, burger alarms and sunglasses back in the day.

In the watch world, a watch’s value can be calculated based on its ‘complications’ or functions.

It took Vacheron Constantin 12 years to develop a watch with 57 functions and over 2,800 moving parts.

Time well spent, as it then sold for millions.

Want another way to increase perceived value?

Limit the supply.

It’s how De Beres keeps the price of diamonds so high (a business model set for disruption now diamonds can be made by machines)…

And it’s how Rolex beefs up the price of its watches too.

With every launch of a new Rolex, you’ll find feverish trading among watch lovers.

In fact, a new Rolex model can fetch multiples of its retail value in these trades.

So why doesn’t Rolex just release more watches and cash in?

Because it knows its brand value shoots up when supply is scarce.

AND it knows scarcity signifies EXCLUSIVITY.

It’s why when you see a luxury brand in a department store you know it’s brand value is in freefall.

Don’t let that happen to your client’s products.

If they hand you a cookie cutter gizmo to promote…

Find a way of making it seem more complex, rather than drop the price.

Then tell them to turn off their machines and lockdown supply.

It’ll make them nervous… 

But they’ll thank you later when they see a juicy lift in response.

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