by Andrea Doyle | July 14, 2017
They have universal appeal: "Clocks are a unisex gift that can be chosen easily by any recipient," says Adrienne Forrest, vice president of corporate sales for Bulova. Plus, since incentive winners can personalize them, they become much more than just a timepiece.

No wonder the category is showing signs of significant growth. According to market research firm Global Industry Analysts (GIA), the global market for clocks was estimated at $5.1 billion in 2016 and is projected to reach $6.6 billion by the year 2022. 

At a time when anyone with a mobile device has a high-tech timepiece in their pocket, traditional clocks are proving to be a popular category.

It can be a focal point in any room, and a stylish selection from the increasingly popular home décor category. From a stately grandfather clock to an art deco wall piece, a well-selected clock can be an ideal accent piece. 

"Clocks are seen on every HGTV show on television today," says Steven Verducci, vice president of the clock division of Citizen Watch Company of America. "Whether indoor clocks or the emerging open air of outdoors, which increases the square footage of your home very nicely, clocks have now found a resurgence as home décor." 

Multi-Functionality Key

"Your microwave, your stove, every gadget in your home tells the time, plus all your personal items that you carry with you like your phone and your tablet," says Forrest. "Today, multi-functionality is key."

Bluetooth-enabled clocks, home décor, and outdoor clocks are three of Bulova's most popular clock segments. "In our home décor category, we offer oversized gallery wall clocks that are pieces of art," says Forrest. "Just like you would put a picture up, you can hang one of our clocks over the fireplace, in your living room, or den. They will enhance the design of your home."

Bulova's indoor/outdoor clocks have weatherproof seals so they can be hung on a deck or patio. Many models light up, controlled by sensors that illuminate at dusk and keep the dial visible until automatically shutting off at dawn. Some feature thermometers with Fahrenheit and Celsius scales and hygrometers, as well. "People are spending more money on outdoor spaces from furniture to barbecue systems," adds Forrest. "A clock is a perfect accessory to add to this investment." 

Bulova's Bluetooth Wireless Speaker Collection includes a wide range of clock styles from those with a 50s diner-style jukebox motif to others from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation collection that epitomize Wright's ability to incorporate themes from nature into his geometric designs. 

"We have a unique niche as we are taking Bluetooth capability and incorporating it into functional clocks and home décor pieces," adds Forrest. 

Bulova continues to dominate the traditional clock segment as well. "We still do tremendous business in both incentive and recognition programs that include mantle and wall clocks in wood cases, pendulum clocks, and clocks that include a picture frame," says Forrest. "All of these clocks can include personalized messages etched on engraving plates."

From Verducci's perspective, there are several factors that make clocks effective incentive tools. "Craftsmanship in quality is one motivator and upscale design has become paramount to the end user, as they want something unusual in design and materials," he says. "It is not always price when it comes to incentive programs; it is more about the overall perceived value. Being able to see value in a clock is very important to the end user."

Clocks have the ability to motivate. "Citizen clocks speak to that aspirational aspect quite nicely in its upscale design. Citizen clocks has developed competitively priced, superior-quality home and office timepieces for today's consumer that reflect the Citizen brand DNA in an array of styles and designs that reflect today's trends," says Verducci. "One aspect Citizen Clocks has focused on is emulating its iconic watch faces in our designs, this will hopefully resonate with our Citizen consumer."

Enhanced Functionalities and Features

According to market research firm GIA, demand for clocks (as well as watches) is being driven by the latest fashions, continued innovation by manufacturers, competitively priced products, and expanding product offerings. Affluent aging baby boomers and women represent the two demographic consumer clusters most interested in these products. GIA predicts that multi-functional premium alarm clocks made from innovative materials will see steady growth in demand over the coming years. Additionally, it predicts that iPhone alarm clocks will see continued growth of demand in the near term, as well.

Annual sales in North America for clocks in 2016 was $1.1 billion, though Asia-Pacific represents the largest regional market, with sales estimated at $1.7 billion in 2016. 

Time to Wake Up

Innovative alarm clocks can work well as an inexpensive recognition items for on-the-spot rewards that come with some pretty cool bells and whistles. For example, the iHome Bluetooth color-changing alarm clock features a radio, built-in wake-up tones, Bluetooth music streaming, and a USB-charging port. Sensorwake's olfactory alarm clock gradually awakens you with the smell of your favorite things. Beddi Glow Clock wakes you up naturally with a sunrise-simulated gentle glow and connects to Spotify or Apple Music. Or Philips Wake-Up Light inspired by nature's sunrise where light gradually increases within 30 minutes until your room is filled with bright yellow light. 

One thing is for sure: as times change, clocks will too.