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.
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.”
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