Fashionable Fossil trade: Hinrich scholars learn brand management from market leader 1

Hinrich Foundation scholars were given the rare opportunity to tour Fossil Group’s Hong Kong office and meet with representatives from each department to get an inside look at the billion dollar watch-manufacturing company.

Scholars learned about each step in the design, manufacturing and production processes for famous brands’ watches, jewelry and leather goods.

Getting to know the organization

Founded in 1984, the Fossil Group is a publicly listed American company. Apart from in-house brands including Fossil and recently bought brand Skagen, it has a portfolio of watch brands including Armani, Burberry, DKNY, Diesel, Micheal Kors and Karl Lagaerfeld.

“Its unique design style is a mix between vintage and modernity, which reflects the current dominant fashion trend among the youth,” said Ly Ha Nguyen, a Vietnam scholar. “This shows Fossil must be the trend-setter who creates and inspires the demand in the target consumers, which makes it successful.”

Hinrich scholars look at the products at the proto type showroom in Fossil’s Hong Kong office.
Hinrich scholars look at the products at the proto type showroom in Fossil’s Hong Kong office.

The Fossil Group has grown from $1.5 billion in 2008 to $3 billion in 2012, according to Rasheed Shroff, Managing Director of Fossil Hong Kong and Macau region. He shared the group’s exciting plan to launch five stand-alone Fossil retail outlets in India by end of this year, increasing its consumer base and presence in Asia. Shroff said Fossil’s understanding of brands’ inner-workings is what allows it to be so successful.

“We manage to communicate the DNA of their brand that is why licensing brands like to work with us,” said Shroff as he introduced licensees’ styles and product lines to scholars.

“This is the first time that I have learned about a company that positions itself as a ‘brand company’,” said China scholar Phoebe. “Different from traditional business, Fossil has always done a good job leveraging their competitive advantage and diversifying its business portfolio by licensing other brands. From their well-prepared presentations, I learned a lot about product design process, planning and channel management.”

From A to Z

The Fossil Company tour was great and meaningful. The four speakers told scholars detailed information on product designs and the go-to-market process, said Suri Huang, a scholar from China.

 Managing Director of the Hong Kong office, Rasheed Shroff, briefs the scholars about Fossil group and the brands it handles
Managing Director of the Hong Kong office, Rasheed Shroff, briefs the scholars about Fossil group and the brands it handles.

After a brief about the Fossil group as a whole, representatives from the design, supply chain management and planning and merchandising departments shared their roles in the one-year process of manufacturing a new watch. Learning about each step in the process, from seeking inspirations for designs to distributing products via retails and wholesalers gave scholars an enlightening look at the manufacturing process.

“Fossil group is responsible for the whole process of making the watches and leather… Fossil is doing a great job with internal communications,” said Michale Wen, a scholar from China.

Nuances of brand management

The concept of brand management was new to many scholars, who were able to gain new insights into the process and take away lessons including how to develop online markets that will help them in their future roles in export-related trade.

“I learned the key of their success in this industry is that they survey and analyze all mediums including fashion magazines, market observations and fashion shows before a design comes out,” said Burmese scholar Myat May Zin.

Window Shopping

Time flew by during the tour and Fossil staff saved the best for last. Scholars got to explore the Fossil store in the group’s office and even take pictures of products they liked. Many scholars hoped they could be counted among Fossil’s customers in the future.

In the words of Cambodian scholar Bun Sophal, Fossil uses its diversified business portfolio and brand stewardship to deliver the best designs and sustainable sales growth.

The well-prepared presentations about the general information of Fossil Group, product design, supply chain management and merchandising were extremely informative and opened scholar’s minds to the possibilities offered by unique business models, thorough product design and comprehensive market research.

About the Author – Mili Semlani

Mili Semlani

As the first Indian Global Trade Leader Scholar of the Hinrich Foundation Mili Semlani is an aspiring journalist and writer. Her mission to contribute to the society has found its meaning in her potential role as a consultant to support the traders and exporters of her diverse and vast country.

Currently pursuing her Masters in International Journalism at Hong Kong Baptist University.