Two Swiss companies are writing economic history in the USA this week: The IPOs of On and Sportradar in New York are making headlines around the world. The running shoe company goes off like a rocket, the sports data provider begins the new era more leisurely.
Exciting: basketball legend Michael Jordan (58) is now an investor in Sportradar and, as a superstar, turned Nike sports shoes into a global brand from the mid-1980s. Just like On, thanks to brand ambassador and investor Roger Federer (40), gained worldwide fame even before the IPO.
Small landlocked country with no resources
Spectacular IPOs, global corporations, brands that almost every child knows: these are not isolated cases in Swiss economic history. “Swiss economic history should be taught in schools and universities around the world,” recommends economic historian Bernhard Ruetz (53). “It is impressive how a small inland country with a difficult topography and no natural resources has made it into the top positions in the world economy.”
The rise begins in the middle of the 19th century. The young federal state soon showed growth rates like the British Empire or the German Empire. It was then that the foundations for wealth and economic success were laid.
Marketing pioneer Bally
There are also shoes and stock market spectacles: in 1907, Bally goes public, a global corporation with branches in Paris, London, Montevideo and Buenos Aires. “The Swiss domestic market is very small. This forces entrepreneurs to quickly open up markets outside the country’s borders, ”says Ruetz, explaining the importance of the Swiss export industry. Bally is also considered a marketing pioneer who caused a stir internationally with his poster campaigns.
From a mini apartment on Lake Zurich to the stock exchange within eleven years. The pace of On is breathtaking, but it’s even faster. Between 1981 and 1988 it took Logitech just seven years from a farm in Vaud to the Geneva and Zurich stock exchanges. Today the company is one of the world market leaders in keyboards and computer mice.
The unique Swiss formula for success: looking for the lucrative niche, relying on the highest quality, refining and constantly optimizing. Swiss watches were and are for many as the greatest feeling on the wrist. This is what Patek Philippe, Rolex and Omega stand for.
Young people save the Swiss watch industry
When things are going badly in the industry, Swatch does not rely on fine precision mechanics, but perfects the trappings: “Thanks to innovative design and marketing, Swatch ‘reinvented’ the wristwatch as a lifestyle product in the fight against quartz watches from Japan and has thus become a cult brand.” , so Ruetz. The niche: These were the boys who couldn’t afford a luxury Swiss watch, but who could afford a cool plastic Swatch every few months.
When Switzerland switched from grain to dairy farming in the century before last, the milk glut had to be refined. This requires the ingenuity of Rudolf Lindt (1855–1909), who invented the conching machine. This made Swiss milk chocolate world famous and founded the Lindt & Sprüngli chocolate empire. The group with the golden bunny relies on the same brand ambassador as it is now On: tennis crack Federer.
An ideal implementation of the refinement principle can be seen in the food multinational Nestlé. Grown up with the sale of milk powder, decades later the group imported all the ingredients in order to launch another bestseller from Switzerland: the Nespresso capsule. There are none of the raw materials in Switzerland – even brand ambassador George Clooney (60) is an import from Hollywood.