2004 Oct Issue
Cover Story
Retail ranking marks beginning of new era in retailing in Asia-Pacific
Other Stories
Experiential Retailing shapes The Hour Glass
Retail Thailand'04 - getting bigger and better in serving up new business
More new business ideas at GLF2004
HECNA - member companies keen to take products to Asia


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Experiential Retailing shapes
The Hour Glass

Experiential retailing represents a modern shopping experience in The Hour Glass boutiques. Suzanne Loh finds out how Kingsmen helped the luxury-watch retail group achieve this at its mega show, TEMPUS.

The Hour Glass (THG), a 25-year-old watch boutique, based in Singapore, is more than just a world of exquisite watch collections.

It embodies a winning prototype of experiential retailing — a delightful and modern shopping experience where customer service and attentiveness to minute details of sophisticated timepieces are the key elements.

While THG's eye for detail is reflected in its customer service and brand collections, catered for the aspirations and lifestyle requirements of its regional client base, this quality is equally accentuated by its store design — and Kingsmen, the designer behind it.

Indeed, in the words of Benny Huang, design director of Kingsmen Creatives Ltd, a good store design should evoke a sensory shopping experience that in turn boosts product sales.

“Strong branding speaks of a certain culture, the way things are presented and the way people relate to your brand. A visually pleasing, or sometimes mind-provoking, storefront sets the proper introduction, driving a certain message across to consumers on what they can expect within a shop,” said Huang.

Well known for carrying many exclusive Swiss-made timepieces, the THG store is designed to carry its own look and feel, with individual brand corners having its own colour scheme, materials and point of sales (POS).

“A good watch lies in its details and precision. On that note, each THG store details are carefully looked into, from its pinhole lock to its showcase lighting and ventilation detailing,” he said.

These facets of THG's very own mark of experiential retailing were effectively accentuated at TEMPUS — The Great Watchscapade, THG's first mega-scale landmark exhibition in Singapore in August this year.

The event was a showcase for reputable watch brands from all over the world, including Patek Phillippe, Jaeger LeCoultre, Ulysse Nardin, Cartier and Breguet. It attracted some 50,000 visitors, including more than 3,000 watch aficionados from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan and the US.

As one of the key drivers behind THG's success story, Kingsmen's contribution was critical to this exhibition, involving both its retail-design and event & exhibition teams.

“The fundamentals of design and production for exhibitions and retail interiors are similar as far as communication design is concerned,” said Simon Ong, group executive director, Kingsmen Creatives Ltd. “Both have to ensure that they communicate the client's marketing objective to their customers,” he added.

Modelled after the presentation style of annual watch fairs in Basel and Geneva in Switzerland, TEMPUS served well as a showcase for individual watch brands and as an events ground for a host of interactive activities, organized to enhance public awareness of haute horology and to establish a watch culture in Singapore.

“Our belief is that watch collecting should not just be an exclusive hobby for the few but rather an inclusive pastime for many,” said Michael Tay, deputy general manager of THG.

“TEMPUS is, without a doubt, an ideal platform for the congregation of enthusiasts from the region as well as the world over,” he added.

Doubtless, this achievement could not be accomplished without the long process of conceptualisation and execution by Kingsmen and THG to make TEMPUS a ‘brand extension' of THG's experiential retailing.

With an exhibition involving more than 35 participating brands, the challenge was for both parties to cater for their individual branding needs and corporate-identity requirements.

“We created individual booths that not only allowed the expression of each brand's own identity but also managed to [achieve] a common exterior for the booths throughout the exhibition hall,” said Albert Fong, creative manager of THG.

For this event, Kingsmen was tasked to assist THG, from the early stages in the space planning of the exhibition hall to coordinating with all exhibitors to ensure that the design consideration took into account the five days of heavy activities at the show.

Adding to the challenges of the exhibition was the potential for a full spectrum of experiential retailing at the show, which entailed the concentration of many educational and interactive activities in one place.

“With its vast experience in the exhibits and events business, Kingsmen was able to extend its design-and-build expertise to realise the desired booths on time and within budget. Constant communication and individual meetings with different brand managers and design houses also helped to address these challenges,” Ong said.

Applying this signature design-and production philosophy at the retail front, Kingsmen continues to work closely with THG to realise its vision at each of its boutiques; Kingsmen is the designer behind the luxury-watch retailer's 18 stores, strategically located in prime shopping belts in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

THG accords close attention to each store to ensure that the colour tone, materials, number and type of brand corners required, and the planning of comfortable space cater for the specific consumer taste of each country.

“We directed Kingsmen to select different material finishes that would suit the different settings and clientele of the store. For example, the shop at One Utama in Malaysia and the one at Gaysorn Plaza in Thailand are different, yet feature the same colour tone,” said Fong of THG.

“In the store at Gaysorn, we used more marble flooring and plush carpeting because we wanted a more sophisticatedenvironment. We also created a cosy lounge area where customers can kick back while selecting their watches,” he added.

Conversely, at One Utama, which is located in the upper-class suburban area, a more durable and casual type of material was chosen for the floor and wall finishes, as the shop caters for a slightly younger customer base.

Equally important is Kingsmen's ability to sustain high-quality standards in, and achieve the timely delivery of, design-and-build roll-out projects for THG through its efforts to ensure zero compromise of material samples and build methodology.

Kingsmen's network of project designers are trained to understand the principal designer's concept in detail, including the choice of materials to be used, before proceeding with the project mock-up and construction, said Huang.

The company also leveraged extensively on its Asia-Pacific office and network to complete the delivery of its workmanship on time and to THG's satisfaction.

“Rolling out a store often requires the pro-active participation of our regional offices' managers, who play an important role in ensuring the highest deliverables and exact detail production that are key to the success of a beautiful store. After-sales service is also an important factor for repeat customers and THG could leverage on the Kingsmen network for one-point contact when such services are required,”said Huang.

Equipped with the right skills and creative flair to craft the right store design in tune with THG's experiential retailing, Kingsmen will continue to be the key driver of THG's success in the Asia-Pacific's watch industry.

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