With one hand pointing clearly towards popular entertainment licenses and the other aimed at customization, New York-based ewatchfactory has glommed onto a winning formula for getting kids more excited about telling time.
The four-year-old timepiece manufacturer signed its first kids licensing deal with Disney in 2001 for characters including Mickey and Donald Duck. That line remains the company’s top-seller, helping to drive 2002 revenues up by double digits to land somewhere between US$5 million and US$10 million. But a raft of new licenses that will be applied to the company’s exclusive personalization system is pegged to double the annual yield by 2004, says executive VP Mara Perlmutter.
ewatch’s business really began to heat up this May with the launch of a special area on www.nick.com where kids can custom-design a watch featuring a Nick characters and have their name printed on the watch-face. The watches, which cost between US$29.95 and US$39.95 each, are designed in real-time and delivered to kids’ doors three weeks later.
Perlmutter says the Nick watches only use a fraction of her company’s full custom-design program, which allows customers to choose their own band, dial and watch casing, as well as personalize the face and/or case back. But ewatch’s stripped-down kids offering seems to be a hit with Nick’s on-line shoppers. SpongeBob and Dora models are selling vigorously, according to Perlmutter, who adds that as of early September, more than 5,000 of the personalized timepieces had been delivered.
Hoping to replicate that success with other kids properties, ewatch has picked up new licenses from Sesame Workshop, 4Kids Entertainment and Paramount. A watch line featuring core Sesame characters like Big Bird, Elmo and Grover is available now through a link on the www.sesameworkshop.com partners page and will soon be sold, along with other ewatch licensed products, on Kmart’s www.bluelight.com site.
A Pokémon line will be distributed via the company’s first bricks-and-mortar kiosk in Pokémon’s Rockefeller Center store in New York. Slated to open in late October, the kiosk will offer a broad range of customizable options, including 40 to 50 Pokémon-themed watch faces.
ewatch may decide to pursue a strategy of opening additional kiosks within larger retail outlets if the Pokémon setup works, but Perlmutter says the company is not interested in launching stand-alone mall operations.
And what of future licensing deals? According to Perlmutter, ewatch has a pretty full plate right now, but it wouldn’t categorically reject the right overture. ‘We have a strong enough portfolio right now that if someone’s interested in us, they’ll come to us.’