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September 06, 2012
Case Study

Social Media Marketing: Citizen Watch gains 50,000 fans in 8 months

SUMMARY: Citizen Watch, founded in 1918 and currently the world’s largest watch manufacturer, prides itself on its watches' advanced technology. However, its marketing strategies had a fairly traditional offline focus of television and print.

Beginning in May 2011, Citizen Watch ventured to bring the same kind of forward-thinking approach to a new online marketing campaign focused on expanding social media and mobile intelligence. In eight months, the company went from no presence in either mobile or social media, to nearly 50,000 "Likes" on Facebook and 3.3 million mobile page views.
by Courtney Eckerle, Reporter


Citizen Watch wanted to establish a one-on-one relationship between the company and its customers (or potential customers), while still in the context of its wider branding initiative.

Jeffrey A. Cohen, President, Citizen Watch Company, said that although traditional channels had allowed the company to develop a strong brand presence, a digital strategy would enable it to extend its reach to new customers while simultaneously developing an integrated relationship with existing customers.

Cohen said, "In today’s environment, it’s incredibly important to be top of mind with your consumers and really develop a relationship based on timely and relevant interactions," adding that it was also vital to maintain complementary messaging across all channels.

This case study covers how Citizen Watch utilized social media to build an active online community of 70,000 loyal customers, and gained the mobile intelligence to enable 3.3 million consumers to quickly connect to a local retailer or browse products.


Before launching a mobile site in the winter of this year, Citizen Watch wanted to create an interactive social media realm that would both reflect the offline campaigns and could regularly interact with the brand.

Tactic #1. Create a social profile environment

When beginning the social media aspect of this project, the cohesive nature of marketing strategies across all channels -- both traditional and digital – was paramount, according to Cohen.

"It was essential for us to maintain the consistency and integrity of our brand’s promise that has been developed over the past 90-plus years, while at the same time building a stronger online presence that allows us to better understand and serve our customers," Cohen said.
In launching a Facebook page from scratch, the focus was not on accumulating a large fan base as much as on interaction. The environment was foremost a place for fans to communicate, and even with its current fan base of 70,000, Citizen has not lost that objective.

"We really started to build an online community of loyal customers, who regularly interact with our brand by posting pictures of their watches, commenting on our latest programs, as well as receiving updates on our group of elite brand ambassadors."

Additionally, a priority was the functional ability for fans to quickly and accurately find a retail location, explore Citizen Watch’s collection, and have quick responses for any care or customer service questions.

Set guidelines for productive communication

Citizen Watch set up a "Community Guidelines" section of the Facebook page to promote appropriate and relevant interaction between fellow fans, as well as between fan and company.

This also protects the trust between brand and consumer, as visitors to the page know anything defamatory or obscene, among others regulations, are being monitored for by the company.

Tactic #2. Promote the Facebook page

To foster initial interest, Facebook ads were started soon after launching the page, and are still being used as a consistent tool to bring fans to the page.

Potential fans are targeted by their affinity for one of Citizen Watch’s brand ambassadors, or their respective sports, as well as people who have an expressed interest in the general category of watches, jewelry or fashion.

Bring traditional marketing strategies up to speed

Consistent with the objective to foster a complimentary relationship between traditional and digital platforms, upgrading Citizen Watch’s existing email list became a priority. Citizen Watch used the list to announce its social media presence and as a vehicle to enlist its email community in the new venture.

Although email originally helped social media to grow, Citizen Watch made the two mutually beneficial. The company built its email list up by making it easier to sign up for and by reducing friction with a consistent template that was on the same optimized level as the social and mobile. The team also created ways to draw fans from the social aspect to enroll as new email subscribers -- such as Facebook giveaways -- to open up multiple channels of communication between the brand and consumers.

Tactic #3. Explore opportunities to make connections

Facebook and other social media outlets proved to be an easy way to share internal news about the company, and highlight external coverage. From there, it has been easy for fans to share with even more people.

Citizen Watch also saw it as an opportunity to generate excitement for its brand ambassadors within its fan base, such as posting a birthday wish to LPGA golfer Paula Creamer and encouraging fans to comment on the post and leave their well wishes, too.

The Facebook page also served as an invaluable tool to help people with customer service questions. The marketing team was adamant about being consistent and timely in its responses, usually concerning questions of where someone could find a certain product or watch repair.

Create quickly useful views and apps

The views and app tabs (to the right of the "about" section) for Citizen's Facebook page was designed to present a visitor to the page with a number of different options. It featured a number of assets:
  • Featured brand ambassadors

  • Watch care

  • Community Guidelines

  • Watch Giveaway (email sign-up)

  • Photos and uploaded videos

The tabs can be altered at any point to drive consumers straight from the tab to a highlighted campaign aspect or specific product.

Tactic #4. Make sure online assets are aligned with what is happening offline

Regarding its many offline assets, Citizen Watch strives to stay abreast of current events or trends to take advantage of the speed social media offers in updating or connecting with fans.

This not only gives a personality and relevance to the site, but also allows Citizen to "establish a continuous two-way conversation with our customers," according to Cohen.

The Facebook presence leading up to the U.S. Open, which Citizen Watch sponsors, was constructed to tie in with its website. Both heavily featured its brand ambassador, three-time U.S. Open winner Kim Clijsters -- creating continuity with its print campaigns as well.

Social media provided a more immediate outlet to capitalize on events when New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning led his team to a victory during the 2012 Super Bowl, and again when his fellow brand ambassador Matt Kenseth won the Dayton 500.

They were able to leverage images of the ambassadors, taking advantage of the increased interest by highlighting the athletes’ connection with Citizen Watch, to improve response rates.

Tactic #5. Create mini-events for Facebook fans

Citizen Watch found during the winter holidays and Valentine’s Day that a Facebook ad featuring a "Watch Gift Finder" generated excitement among its fans.

It was designed with a number of questions people could answer about either themselves or the person for whom they were buying a gift. The watch finder would go through this series of five to seven questions and be shown a product recommended to them based on his or her answers.

At the end, they would be presented with a call-to-action to click through to the site to learn more about the product, or the option to find a retailer. The results were also sharable with friends on Facebook, creating the potential to bring back even more fans.

These social media efforts are valued because they "allowed us to build an interactive relationship with our customers through our initiatives," Cohen said.

Watch Giveaway

The Facebook page also features a monthly watch giveaway, which requires information from consumers for the email campaign, such as name, age, geographical location and email address for submittal into the contest.

A large promotional picture of the watch being given away, as well as the name of the previous winner and the watch given to them, immediately adds apparent value to the contest.

Watch One

Through Watch One, fans are encouraged to submit pictures of their Citizen watches. This facilitates dialogue while allowing consumers to show off their collection and develop brand loyalty. According to the marketing team, some fans have posted about having nearly two dozen Citizen Eco-Drive watches.

There is the added benefit of serving as an avenue for access to unbiased commentary on the product, which can be useful both to marketers and to today’s savvy consumer as a powerful factor when considering a purchase.

Susan G. Komen

Citizen Watch adopted Breast Cancer Awareness month as a special event, where a specially designed Susan G. Komen watch is featured, and the background of its website is pink.

A corresponding Facebook campaign was launched, which shifted social interactions to being about the brand in general, not just on the watch. It also drew in a different fan base, specifically more women.

Tactic #6. Make current website smartphone friendly

Launched early this year, enabled the company to give its consumers the ability to quickly and easily have access to the information they would most likely need while on the go. Email sign-up, a retailer locator, repair FAQ, watch browsing and icons linking to social media were all identified as such information, and featured prominently.

Keeping with the main objective of maintaining complementary messaging, the company highlights its brand ambassadors in the page design. Also, Quick Response, or QR, codes, were added to print advertisements as a means to drive people through the mobile sites.

The primary goal for the company with the mobile site was to highlight the key actions consumers want to get to, and make it a user-friendly experience.

"The development of our mobile site allows us to connect with our customers wherever they are and provide them with a means to find a local retailer nearby as well as find their perfect watch," Cohen said.


The social media program has been in place for the past 15 months, and the results include:
  • Close to 50,000 Facebook "Likes" in the first 8 months, more than 70,000 currently

  • Five different campaigns ran, with 10 different ads for the holiday period

The email campaign, optimized and cross-promoted with social includes:
  • 29% unique open rate

  • 34% unique click/open rate

The mobile site, launched in the winter of this year, has reached:
  • 3.3 million page views

  • 75% unique visitors

"Most importantly," said Cohen, about the results of this campaign, "we have a unified marketing strategy with complementary messaging, images and programs across all channels, both traditional and digital."

Creative Samples

  1. Citizen's Facebook Community Guidelines

  2. New brand ambassador

  3. Views and Apps on Citizen's Facebook page

  4. U.S. Open Sponsorship

  5. Citizen Watch mobile-optimized site


Citizen Watch

Zeta Interactive – Citizen Watch’s marketing vendor

Related Resources

Social Media Marketing: 8 tactics to measure and improve Facebook results

Email and Social Media Integration: 5 Strategies to Grow Audiences and Design Campaigns

Views and Apps Help (via Facebook Help Center)

PPC Advertising: How to track AdWords and Facebook ads in 5 steps

Social Media Marketing: Facebook app boosts engagement

B2B Marketing: 7 mobile and social media tactics

Social Media Marketing: Going viral is o easy it’s hard (via MarketingExperiments)

Inbound Marketing: 5 tactics for developing an optimized architecture

Social Media Marketing: How to ensure Facebook doesn’t tear down your wall

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