We’re back with another edition of an exciting entrepreneurial journey to success! In this month’s edition of D2C success, let’s unravel one of today’s most dynamic brands to the forefront. Introducing MVMT, a trailblazing force in fashion and accessories, redefining modern style with its empowering ethos.
Get ready to dive into their innovative journey and witness how they’ve transformed timekeeping into a stylish statement.
The MVMT Story: Beginning
“Drop out of college, it’ll change your life,” said no one ever.
But two 22-year-old dropouts defied the norm and created an empire that eventually sold for $300 million. For founders, Jake Kassan and Kramer LaPlante, being broke college students was all the motivation they needed to disrupt the watch market, and that’s when MVMT was born.
2013 found two young co-founders spotting a gap in the market; the inability to find a stylish, well-made watch that was affordable to millennials. The duo set out to build an economical, accessible brand that resonated with the Gen Y cohort.
They challenged the status quo. The established, legacy watch conglomerates dominated the industry, whose brand presence marked prestige. What they did not have was affordable products that were easily available to customers. So LaPlante and Kassan pioneered a new path, one that no one had done before. The duo built a robust digital footprint through e-commerce and social media. They unlocked an entire market segment by engaging with millennials and crafting an online-only brand, succeeding to become one of the fastest-growing watch companies in the world.
MVMT’s direct-to-consumer strategy was a major driving force in their triumph of creating a watch for an entire generation. Here’s a deep dive into their success story, highlighting some of the key lessons that D2C brands should note!
Lesson 1: A unique value proposition provides first mover advantage
MVMT was created to solve a simple problem: the challenge of finding a stylish, high-quality watch that was priced reasonably. The watch market consisted of larger retailers such as Rolex, Timex, and Citizen, who priced their timepieces beyond the reach of specific market segments. Kassan and LaPlante identified this millennial pain point and did what no one in the market was doing; selling trendy, minimalist watches online at an affordable price.
MVMT’s value proposition is bringing stylish timepieces to millennials on a budget. This meant conquering a market that none of the established watch brands had been able to do before. Being one of the first watch companies built on a direct-to-consumer model, they had the first mover advantage of creating an accessible brand from the get-go by selling directly online.
In an industry dominated by antiquated acquisition methods, they were the first movers to have direct access to their consumers through e-commerce and social media, maintaining relevance within an entire generation.
In fact, they adopted the direct access approach to their funding strategy, creating capital and market establishment simultaneously.
Lesson 2: Crowd funding could be key
What do two college dropouts in their early twenties, in a $20,000 debt, with a start-up idea to revolutionize the watch industry, do to acquire capital? They turn to crowdfunding.
With one camera and six samples, the duo took to Indiegogo – a crowdfunding platform that allows individuals and organizations to raise funds for various projects and ventures – to raise money for their venture. They created buzz around the campaign to encourage individuals to donate by listing watches at $59 and launching a YouTube video explaining their brand mission. Hitting the nail on the head with their strategy, they raised over $300,000 within a couple of months, becoming the second most-funded fashion campaign on Indiegogo at the time.
But why did they choose crowdfunding? Crowdfunding allows for flexibility to obtain capital without divesting equity to external investors. The funds generated from the campaign are solely the company’s, facilitating growth to launch on their terms and remain independent.
The crowdfunding campaign also generated hype around MVMT’s watches, driving pre-orders from consumers even before the actual launch.
When people eagerly await your product even before it hits the market, you know you’re onto something great!
Lesson 3: Capitalize on social media marketing
Embracing the buzz, MVMT defied the norm by crafting a strong online brand presence, setting itself apart from the competition.
Having raised more than they expected from their crowdfunding campaign, Kassan and LaPlante decided to invest a majority of it in digital marketing. MVMT had what other brands didn’t – a solid social media presence on every platform.
MVMT’s social media presence was built on selling a lifestyle, not just a watch. They made their brand around a fashion-forward lifestyle of luxury. This ethos is translated through their social channels that showcase high-quality images of their products against striking backdrops alluding to a lifestyle of adventure, style,, and luxury, but at an affordable price.
The brand has generated a massive social media following consisting of over a million followers on Instagram and 3.5 million on Facebook, to which they owe much of their growth. They also post consistently on YouTube and Twitter.
Here are some highlights from their digital marketing strategy:
– The brand incorporates a clear consistency in visual branding through its content. A distinct aesthetic is prevalent in every post on every platform, creating powerful brand recognition. They can capture the essence of MVMT’s ethos, “dress with intent, live with purpose.”
– They diversify their content. This ranges from videos, photo carousels, product images, lifestyle photography, reels, blog posts, and more.
– They tell a story people want to connect with – luxurious and stylish but accessible—something everyone can embody.
– Influencer marketing is pivotal in growing an audience. MVMT contacted several content creators to collaborate by asking them to post content in exchange for a free product. The key takeaway is to approach multiple influencers with a slightly lower following instead of spending more significant amounts on fewer influencers with a huge following.
– They engaged with their consumers using the hashtag #JoinTheMVMT, which went viral! They built an online community by motivating people to post pictures of themselves wearing an MVMT watch.
– Facebook ads became a significant revenue generator for the company. Facebook was the first platform they built their online presence upon.
– MVMT’s Instagram marketing has also gained major traction with their viral hashtag and the brand’s compelling storytelling strategy. The feed is populated with beautifully captured, appealing visuals and different adventures from their customers.
– The co-founders built their online presence by making themselves the brand’s face, creating a personal touch with their audience, something they can resonate with.
Lesson 4: Not going retail can do wonders
With a vision to expand their business through retailers, Kassan and LaPlante thought the next big move for growth would be to go down the traditional route of selling watches. After being advised by Shark Tank’s Daymond John not to go down the retail path and only focus on their online presence, they abandoned the idea.
MVMT’s direct-to-consumer model allows them to offer high-quality products for a lower price than their competitors because everything is designed, manufactured, marketed, and sold in-house, cutting out the retailer’s profit margin.
They also took advantage of the pace at which the digital landscape was evolving, causing more and more millennials to shop online versus in-store. Focusing all their efforts on e-commerce was the foundation of the brand’s success.
However, establishing a strong presence on e-commerce was only one aspect of their business—creating a trust factor was another challenge.
Lesson 5: Offering a long warranty period builds brand trust
Purchasing a product online versus experiencing the touch-feel factor in-store might cause a buyer to think twice before shelling out some money. This is where building trust within a consumer is of utmost importance, ensuring they are confident about purchasing.
How does MVMT do this despite being available only online?
They offer you a two-year warranty that promises to be free from defects in material and artistry. MVMT’s brand pamphlet even states, “We are so confident that you’ll love our products that we offer a two-year guarantee & free shipping/returns worldwide.” Through this, they build brand trust within the customer to make the purchase fearlessly, giving them the sense that the brand has their backs no matter what.
In 2018, MVMT was acquired by Movado Group for $300 million with the vision of capturing the millennial market.
Now that’s a success story!
MVMT’s journey showcases the power of disruptive thinking, strategic vision, and a relentless pursuit of innovation. Their story offers a beacon of wisdom for D2C entrepreneurs, lighting the path toward building impactful ventures. By implementing these incredible lessons, founders can forge their remarkable path to success!