Recently it seems that almost every Facebook group focused on microbrands has an active thread discussing the pros and cons of backing a watch on Kickstarter. This is likely due to “high season” for Kickstarter projects, which starts in February after the holiday buying fatigue has passed. If you comb through these threads, you will find an abundance of opinions on why you should, or should not, back a project. What you won’t find, however, is much being said from a brand’s perspective. There are many reasons for this, but first let’s get into some qualifiers so you can understand the background from where I am speaking.
My name is Josh Roemer. I run the marketing for Swiss Watch Company (SWC); the cleverly named company that released its first line of watches 25 years after its founding. My dad, Stephen Roemer, started SWC in 1996 after spending 15 years overseeing manufacturing for the Swatch Group. Aside from having watches made for the armed forces here in the U.S., my dad through SWC, has personally overseen the manufacturing and quality assurance for many brands since the company’s founding. We don’t have an exact count of watches he had manufactured, but a conservative estimate would easily be in the hundreds of thousands. We don’t like to get into which companies we handle manufacturing for as they are separate entities and our involvement with their brand ends when their watches are delivered. Though Ming was nice enough to mention us in his Horological Revelation prize acceptance speech, which he received for his 17.06 design.
While we have only run one Kickstarter campaign, we have seen the results of many crowdfunding and pre-order campaigns through the lens of those brands we have helped create samples for. We have witnessed a kaleidoscope of results.
I am not going to speak to why brands fail or succeed; there are simply too many variables to list in a condensed video. Though I will share why brands use the platform, despite its negative connotations and the 10% profit loss.
Here is an honest take on why brands use Kickstarter, from a brand’s perspective.
Was this video all-encompassing? Absolutely not. Are there other factors involved in a company deciding on Kickstarter? Of course. Kickstarter’s primary purpose is to cover manufacturing costs which mitigates, or eliminates, the risk in producing a product. However, the fact remains that Kickstarter will bring in more potential customers at the cost of slimmer margins and a 10% cut. This is invaluable to new brands with little to no reach. It is so valuable that many more established brands use Kickstarter for this sole reason.
If you have questions about aspects that I didn’t cover, let me know in the comments. I won’t pretend to be all knowing on the topic, but I’m happy to chat on the subject.