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  • LUIS CAMPUZANO

Tag Heuer’s CMO Speaks on the Brand’s Strategy, Product Segmentation and Values

George Ciz discusses the importance of storytelling, which has propelled the Swiss watchmaker's ongoing success and its rich history in the timekeeping arena.


Tag Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph COURTESY OF TAG HEUER


Tag Heuer is determined to continue to lead on several fronts in the watchmaking arena, including in developments in the field of ultra-fast mechanical chronographs; an innovative tourbillon watch priced under $20,000; the ongoing success of its Connected luxury smartwatch, and its advancements in the lab-grown diamond scene as the brand introduced a yellow variant made possible with its revolutionary Plasma technology. 


The Swiss brand is also on the cusp of the one-year anniversary of the opening of its flagship boutique in Manhattan on Fifth Avenue between 51st and 52nd streets. The new boutique marked a milestone for the brand and solidified its commitment to providing a world-class retail experience.


The watchmaker has had some notable changes this year as well, including the appointment of Julien Tornare, formerly of Zenith, as chief executive officer and the relaunch of its high-end eyewear in partnership with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned eyewear manufacturer and expert Thélios, which was unveiled in Miami as part of the LVMH Watch Week 2024 showcase in January.


Tag Heuer’s leadership team also includes George Ciz, who joined the brand in March 2020 as chief marketing officer, just before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. Ciz oversees the global growth of the brand across all key aspects of the marketing mix, including creative and content, media, PR, sponsoring and ambassadors, events and heritage.


George Ciz COURTESY OF TAG HEUER


Ciz, who reports to Tornare, helped oversee such notable Tag Heuer campaigns as the relaunch of the Carrera and Aquaracer models, the global partnership with Porsche, the naming of Ryan Gosling as an ambassador, the collaboration with Nintendo and brand events such as the Monaco Grand Prix and Watches and Wonders activations.


Here, Ciz talks about the brand’s current business strategy for the U.S., the impact and overall growth of the women’s watch segment and what it takes to create and maintain a successful retail environment.


WWD: With women being a successful consumer for the brand, how has it impacted the overall growth of the business and design process?


George Ciz: When you look at the past women that have represented the brand such as Cara Delevingne, Cameron Diaz, Maria Sharapova, to our present with Naomi Osaka, Alexandra Daddario, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, we’ve had some amazing ladies that have fronted the brand and it’s always been a huge part of us.


The smaller wrist is an important part of our strategy because we don’t necessarily reference it as men or women, we really think about wrist sizes, and we believe that we live in this new world where it’s less about differences in the genders and from such a perspective, but more talking about wrist sizes and having the right watch for the right person.


What we’re seeing is some ladies prefer bigger watches and some men prefer a bit smaller watches, such as the Solargraph model, which hits the perfect size of 40 millimeters and it’s being bought by men, and of course but also by many ladies, and this year, we introduced it to a 34-millimeter size. It’s an important part of what we do and we’ll continue to make sure that we pursue that more unisex approach to it and have watches of different sizes, different colors, so it fits exactly what people might be looking for.


Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph Skipper COURTESY OF TAG HEUER


WWD: How do you segment watches — by trends, by movements, by materials?


G.C.: One of the most important things is the storytelling behind each product; that’s how we segment our collections as they are deeply rooted in the stories where they belong. We’ve always focused with every new watch to deliver this beautiful story, and of course we think of who is this for and which kind of person. We have customer profiles and all of these things in mind, but probably the most important thing for us is the stories behind it.


We try to think more progressively and we believe we live in a different world and I think it’s less about men versus women, it’s more about unisex styles, the right sizes for the right wrist and the right storytelling that people want with the right inspiration that we want to deliver to our clients.


Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph COURTESY OF TAG HEUER


WWD: What is the overall business strategy for the U.S.?


G.C.: The U.S. is a very special market for us, as it’s our number-one market in the world and it’s a market where Jack Heuer himself spent a lot of time and was super inspired by it.


What’s amazing is how resilient and strong we have been, going from strength to strength in the U.S. even in recent years and we continue to grow. The goal is for us to continue to reinforce the brand values and continue to position the brand as a high-end watchmaker. Many people see us as the entry to luxury but there is no reason why we couldn’t be your first watch. We are very happy to be your first watch, but we’d love to be also your second, third, maybe seventh, why not?


One of the things that we’ve done in the U.S. specifically is work very hard on developing the optimal omnichannel distribution strategy where we of course have key retail partners that we work with that are super important and we pick the right ones. But we closed a number of doors that we felt were not qualitative enough, where we felt that we’re not resonating well enough with the direction of the brand that we want it to be.


We now have a very healthy and good omnichannel strategy which has freestanding stores, our own boutiques, franchise stores, and the wholesale. We have a very strong and booming e-commerce platform; we have been very lucky because two weeks just before the COVID-19 pandemic we introduced a brand new brand website, which was perfect going into that period as we were able to really capitalize and grow significantly our dotcom business during that period. 


Tag Heuer Carrera Date COURTESY OF TAG HEUER


WWD: How has the overall success been since opening the boutique on Fifth Avenue? What is your opinion of a successful retail environment within the watch space and what do you think makes a successful store in New York City specifically?


G.C.: The traffic has almost doubled, which has had an impact on the sales. It was a great success for us and I think it has a strong potential to be one of our top boutiques. There is strong competition, like our Champs-Élysées store or our Sydney boutique and of course Dubai Mall, but I think Fifth Avenue has the potential to take it on.


I don’t necessarily believe it’s usually just one lever that you pull, it’s a combination of things, and clearly in a place like New York City you have to make some impact and you have to be noticed and be seen — so I think the storefront is very important and the connection with the communication is very important. Also the environment of the boutique is extremely important when you come in; you feel comfortable, you feel welcome.


Tag Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph COURTESY OF TAG HEUER


WWD:  Is there a specific value alignment that the brand looks for when it comes to choosing your ambassadors?


G.C.: The value alignment is very important and we want people that we feel will be the right representative and the right face for our products, but they will also be people that will help us with developing the products and that will provide the right feedback.


There is always an authentic story and we always try to do it wherever possible to spend time with these people before we sign the deal so we get to know them, we get to feel how they feel about us and they understand also how we feel because we love to not just have people on the roster but to do great projects with them as well.


Again, authenticity, credibility, we go back to that. And then you add one other ingredient never seen before: how can we create a little bit of a surprise? How do we do something differently, some uniquely a bit of the avant garde spirit of Tag Heuer? That’s part of the formula but fundamentally, it’s a people business and it’s about great relationships.






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