Filippo Loreti is a newer watchmaker who started out as a successful Kickstarter campaign. They then went on to do a few more successful Kickstarter campaigns – most or all of which have yielded over a million dollars each. The resulting products were decidedly not for timepiece enthusiasts but certainly inspired by the passion that feeds collectors. The fact remains that no company has made more money to produce watches via crowdfunding than Filippo Loreti.
That, however, isn’t the story I am going to discuss, nor does it relate to the Venice Automatic watch collection that I’m reviewing today. This product is in fact decidedly a passion project from the brand and not a result of crowdfunding “backer bait.” The story I want to tell is about brands who start out with a lot of work getting the attention of youthful social media-present consumers, and their journey to become real watch brands.
Filippo Loreti As Both Brand & Business
In the case of Filippo Loreti, the story is about the struggle to both impress and be creative, while earning revenue at the same time. Being creative involves both risk and investment. While making money is about predictability and margins. These two needs often and regularly do conflict in the world of modern merchandise marketing. The theme of these competing interests also offers a powerful lens to understand a broad range of business decisions made by companies across a diverse group of industries. New versus familiar. Attempted versus experimental. Creative versus predictable.
Yes, There’s A Lot Of Marketing-Speak
The core message of the Filippo Loreti’s major marketing campaigns has in a sense been, “screw the big brands, we try to offer a lot for little money. Don’t spend more.” This approach did a great job to earn them both visibility and customers at just a couple hundred dollars. What then is the result when the messenger begins to encroach on that which they initially sought to distance themselves from? That being – actual luxury prices.
But Does Filippo Loreti Deliver?
Brands like Filippo Loreti are guilty of using the term “luxury” far too liberally. Often these claims are tantamount to “luxury for less” – a common refrain these days which in my personal opinion is absolute hogwash. This is language designed to tell unsuspecting consumers something they want to hear, nothing more.
I’ve gotten to know Filippo Loreti better and better over the last year and have to say that the people behind the brand are ready to make it what their customers actually want it to be – and that is a real luxury brand. Kudos to them for first realizing that and second for wanting to do something about it. It isn’t an easy or quick challenge to overcome.
Part of luxury is exclusivity (the biggest part when it comes to luxury purchases), and it’s necessary for luxury to be something you can have, to the exclusion of others. Luxury, in other words, is by definition strictly not for everyone. Folks, when you read the term “luxury” in marketing on the internet – take it as a grain of salt. It often means little indeed. For many customers “luxury” is about price, and when it comes to watches at about $300 – $400, you are indeed getting into luxury. Relatively speaking, that is.
With prices starting at under $200 for the Filippo Loreti brand, the over $600 Venice Automatic is three times the price of the brand’s bread and butter products which have helped it earn wrist presence on aspirational young people around the world. What the brand has learned is that the same demographic of people hungry for “rich people-style watches” at $200 not only can’t afford a $600 watch, but don’t really understand what to make of it.
Who Is The Filippo Loreti Venice Buyer, Exactly?
Interest in a mechanical watch requires you to first be interested in mechanical watches in general – something which today must be first advocated for and second, learned. What Filippo Loreti have learned themselves is that once you start producing interesting, nice watches (no matter the price), you need to begin an entirely different conversation with consumers. That conversation isn’t just about trying to satisfy existing needs but creating new ones. Internet marketers are not always as good at need fulfillment as they are storytelling and the expression of artistic passion.
The people behind Filippo Loreti not only really like luxury watches, but they admire the design, branding, and craftsmanship that goes into them. Forget for a moment that they understand contemporary internet marketing which as I said is about responding to existing intentions, immediate satisfaction, and giving people what they want. It is longer, and thus difficult to track and evaluate a strategy to get people educated about something new, let alone to understand it, want it, and thus sell against it.
Enter the Venice Automatic – which isn’t the brand’s first mechanical watch, but certainly one of them. Hallmarks of the brand’s success paint the timepiece package in the form of the straps and bracelets used, as well as the case and dial colors. That means steel or rose-gold toned cases, and black, silver, or blue dials. These are simply the colors that sell today – and Filippo Loreti knows that very well.
“Custom” And What That Means
What Filippo Loreti will immediately tell you about the Venice Automatic is that it is all “custom.” What does that mean exactly? The implication is that they needed to get all custom-made parts. This includes an element of the movement which they actually modified a bit. In the world of start-up brands, this is a big deal because a lot of the less expensive watches out there don’t have original parts, but rather preexisting designs for parts such as hands, cases, and dials.