Smartwatch is ‘missing piece’ of Huawei brand strategy

Mobile World Congress: Chinese mobile brand Huawei believes the launch of its first smartwatch will play a key role in growing the brand in western markets.

Huawei has launched its first smartwatch at Mobile World Congress

The Huawei Watch differs from many existing smartwatches on the market, as well as the upcoming Apple Watch, by incorporating a round watch face and traditional design elements that give it the appearance of a regular watch. Huawei, the world’s fourth largest smartphone maker, believes this will encourage more people to purchase the technology, which was unveiled yesterday (1 March) at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Huawei’s director of product marketing Hartmut Klenner said the brand sees wearables as central to its marketing strategy given the potential to deepen relationships with consumers and grow the brand’s reach. He added that the brand would “definitely go big” on advertising the Huawei Watch when it goes on sale at an unspecified date around halfway through this year.

“The smartwatch is really the missing piece for us to create a strong connection with consumers,” said Klenner. “We’ve created a timeless piece of hardware that will not only attract the technology geeks, but will go much more into the mass market, especially in Europe but also globally.”

He insisted that despite the publicity buzz around the Apple Watch, Huawei could fight for market share through its different design approach, adding that the Android Wear operating system used by the Huaewei Watch is “gaining traction” following its launch by Google last year. “We would like to become a big player in the Android Wear space,” said Klenner.

In addition to the smartwatch, Huawei yesterday unveiled a new Bluetooth headset and a smart wristband that will sync with the brand’s upcoming line of new smartphones.

Meanwhile electronics manufacturer LG also launched two versions of its new Watch Urbane smartwatch yesterday. Again the products have round faces and seek to offer a traditional and fashionable watch design. IAB mobile analyst Alex Kozloff said brands appear to be waking up to the fact that consumers regard watches as an indicator of social status and style and are adjusting their designs accordingly.

“The watches released by LG and Huawei this week make perfect sense,” she said. “Both products are high on style, with a traditional ‘analog’ feel that doesn’t single out the user as a gadget geek with little fashion sense.”

Forrester analyst Thomas Husson also argued that while consumer adoption of smartwatches is currently low, brands are more likely to succeed if they offer a lifestyle experience, rather than just a product.

“The challenge here for Huawei is to establish its transformative brand in this new connected objects space,” he said. “For LG, this is slightly different. The technology and the brand are here but the lifestyle component is not heavily marketed.”