UP­DAT­ING A CLAS­SIC

Its Aug­mented Pa­per shows the lux­ury brand Mont­blanc is keep­ing up with the times, while its new her­itage col­lec­tion takes in­spi­ra­tion from the past. re­ports.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE -

Now we can do most things on­line: shop, make pay­ments, com­mu­ni­cate through so­cial me­dia, but there are still peo­ple who pre­fer foun­tain pens and pa­per. Nicolas Baret­zki, the CEO of Mont­blanc In­ter­na­tional, is one of them.

At the Mont­blanc bou­tique in the China World Trade Cen­ter re­cently, he showed me Mont­blanc’s Aug­mented Pa­per.

It looks like a black Mont­blanc note­book. But then he opened it and wrote notes in it with a StarWalker pen. He then pressed a but­ton, and the hand­writ­ten notes were con­verted into dig­i­tal text and ap­peared on the screen of his smart­phone. He then edited the notes us­ing the Mont­blanc Hub app.

The files can also be shared via email or stored in a cloud ser­vice.

Aug­mented Pa­per is an ex­am­ple of how to in­te­grate tra­di­tional writ­ing into the dig­i­tal work­flow.

The con­ve­nience of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy is now avail­able to those who pre­fer to write with a pen.

Baret­zki says Mont­blanc pushes bound­aries and finds ways to meet the de­mands of cus­tomers.

“This is why I like China,” he says. “Chi­nese cus­tomers are younger than other mar­kets. They are very dy­namic and dig­i­tal savvy.

“It’s a chal­lenge for us, and since they are very de­mand­ing and knowl­edge­able, you have to im­prove your­self. They push us to keep adding value to our brand,” he says.

Baret­zki joined Mont­blanc in 2013 as the ex­ec­u­tive vi­cepres­i­dent of sales, and he has been to China around 20 times, but this time is dif­fer­ent, since this is his first visit since be­ing ap­pointed CEO in April.

China is a cru­cial mar­ket, he says. “For Mont­blanc, it has been the No 1 mar­ket for many years. We’ve in­vested a lot in China over the last 20 years.”

He says he usu­ally vis­its Bei­jing and Shang­hai, and some­times Chengdu or Xi’an, but as Mont­blanc has 130 bou­tiques in China, in nearly 70 cities, he ex­pects to visit other cities, espe­cially the sec­ond- and third-tier ones “to un­der­stand how the mar­ket is de­vel­op­ing”.

“There are many things hap­pen­ing. Each time you re­turn, you feel like that some­thing has changed, but I love it.”

When it comes to this new way of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, China is more ad­vanced than other mar­kets.” Nicolas Baret­zki, CEO of Mont­blanc In­ter­na­tional

One chal­lenge is how to main­tain con­sis­tency and how to in­tro­duce the prod­ucts to cus­tomers from dif­fer­ent back­grounds.

Chi­nese cus­tomers are not only young but very op­ti­mistic. “They be­lieve in the fu­ture, which is al­ways good, giv­ing you in­spi­ra­tion to take up new ideas.”

Mont­blanc was the first in the Richemont group to start e-com­merce in China but Baret­zki be­lieves that the Chi­nese like to visit the bou­tiques, in­ter­act, get a story and a spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Sell­ing prod­ucts on­line or in a store is not im­por­tant. What’s im­por­tant is the way we com­mu­ni­cate and de­liver in­for­ma­tion,” he says.

“So­cial me­dia helps peo­ple get in­for­ma­tion, ad­vice or feed­back. It changes the way that cus­tomers learn the his­tory, sto­ries and cul­ture of the com­pany. When it comes to this new way of com­mu­nica- tion, China is more ad­vanced than other mar­kets.”

Baret­zki says he wants to en­sure that Mont­blanc has the right staff, the train­ing and an un­der­stand­ing of the com­pany’s cul­ture.

“It’s a chal­lenge but also op­por­tu­nity. And Mont­blanc loves chal­lenges. But for me, the big­gest chal­lenge is how I can keep a close link with the mar­ket, so that I can meet our VIPs and cus­tomers, and meet peo­ple who give me feed­back. So … the big­gest chal­lenge is time.”

Con­tact the writer at chen­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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