Titan Industries is the fifth largest integrated watch manufacturer in the world and has 60% of the organized watch market share in India. Titan started its operations in 1986. When it was launched, it was the third watch company in India after HMT and Allwyn. Titan formed a joint venture ith Timex, which lasted until 1998, and set up a strong distribution network across India. Titan watches are sold in India through exclusive Titan showrooms called “The World of Titan” and through various franchisees and through retail stores.
The company brought about a paradigm shift in the Indian watch market, offering quartz technology with international styling, manufactured in a state-of-the-art factory at Hosur in Tamil Nadu. Leveraging its understanding of different segments in the watch market, the company launched a second independent watch brand, Sonata as a value brand to those seeking to buy functionally styled watches at affordable prices. In addition, it focussed on the youth segment with its third brand-Fasttrack.
It has also launched premium fashion watches by acquiring a license for marketing global brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss, besides having in its portfolio its first Swiss made watch brand-Xylys. The Vision The vision of Titan watches is: “To be innovative, world class, contemporary and build India’s most desirable brands”. In line with this vision, the company focussed on brand marketing rather than product marketing. Watched were considered a functional product before the entry of Titan in the market in 1986.
Titan changed the perception of watches from a functional product to a personal product in the mindset of the consumer to leverage its brand name and the reputation of Tata. The major weakness of the watch industry in the 1980s was that no brand had a strong personality. Hence Titan positioned itself as a premium brand with global reach. This was achieved through a well-planned advertising strategy. When the first Titan quartz range was launched in March 1987, it was accompanies by heavy advertising. The first advertisement described the Titan quartz as the international watch one could pay for in rupees.
Later campaigns emphasized that to find such watches it was not necessary to go to Europe, Japan, USA, or a duty-free shop. Post-liberalization, the market dominance of Titan was threatened by the entry of various foreign brands in India. The sprouting of the grey market and the entry of cheap Chinese products threatened the bottom end of the market. To counter their threats, Titan adopted various marketing strategies. In 2004, Titan appointed Aamir Khan to endorse its range of brands. Bijou Kurien, Chief Operating Officer (Watches), Titan Industries Ltd. TIL), said: ‘’There is a perfect fit between Aamir and Titan – their stature, timelessness, and the love and trust they both share with the people, both nationally and internationally, makes this an ideal partnership. Moreover, Aamir has a universal appeal that extends to everyone, across age groups, just as our watches do. ’’ With the celebrity endorsement, TIL hoped to promote the latest trends in the industry. The idea was to make watches that would be seen as style and fashion accessories rather than just utilitarian devices. The brand repositioned itself to a style brand, with the “What’s your style”campaign.
Titan Industries roped in two more brand ambassadors from Bollywood — Katrina Kaif for traditional women’s range Titan Raga — and Farhan Akhtar for Swiss-made brand Xylys. The company introduced several collections/ranges under each of its sub-brands. Moreover, it participated in the retail boom that the country was experiencing. It has opened its exclusive outlets in most of the malls and hyper markets that have mushroomed over the last few years in mega cities likes Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata and in metropolitan cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and other cities like Chandigarh, Pune, Ahmedabad and Cochin.
The company also paid attention to its communication strategies. Initially, they were advertised under the mother brand, but with the development of the market, TIL developed separate advertising campaigns for its sub-brands. Foundations of the Brand Titan found out through extensive consumer studies that Indian customers preferred watches made abroad (foreign watches). A detailed study was conducted to examine major gaps in service, showroom interiors and retailing trends in watch industry. The analysis led to the establishments of exclusive showrooms along with a chain of retail outlets.
The company took initiatives to convince its consumers about its model variety, product quality, and service excellence. 1. Variety. Titan wanted to establish a brand with a unique and distinctive style. It introduced a large variety of models, compared to the competitors at that time. It collaborated with European designers to design new watches with a combination of Indian and European styles. As the models increased, the reputation of the brand got further enhanced. 2. Quality. The brand stressed on the importance of quality of product, right from manufacturing stages to the retail stages.
For example, in a tropical country like India, gold-plated watches lose their shine within a few months of usage. Titan identified the problem and decided to go for vacuum technology which would increase the life of the product. Minimising the number of returns during warranty period was set as a goal for the company. 3. Service excellence. Sustainability of brand excellence comes from excellent service quality. To provide excellent shopping experience to the customers, Titan employed trained service personnel in its service centres. With excellent post- sales service, the brand captured the customer confidence.
The service quality in the Titan outlets set the standards for the entire industry. Change in Positioning Focus Durability to Sophistication Earlier the customer’s desire was: “Durable, timeless watches which can be handed over generations”. The then Indian customer preferred foreign watches especially Swiss watches, as a style statement and also for the reputation of the quality. HMT, with its rugged watches was the well respected brand during the 1970s and 80s. Watches were considered a durable and precious item to be used for long years and it was a one- time purchase for the customer.
Titan recognised the need in the market and introduced the Titan quartz range of watches in 1987. With its heavy advertising campaigns and introduction of multiple varieties, Titan induced the customer to own multiple watches and also targeted unpenetrated segments like first-time buyers. Today, the customer’s desire is “Classic, understated and elegant”. These define the characteristics of the young executive of the present day corporate world. The customer segment is characterised by sophistication and tastes, desire for innovative products, international styling, and adaptable to formal / party wear at affordable prices.
Customers are looking for a product which would act as fashion as well as a status symbol. Besides Titan has catered to the youth segment by the introduction of the Fasttrack which is an affordable brand for a large number of consumers. All steel look and multidial models have been introduced for the adult male category. For the women executives, it has brought out the brand Raaga, with its feminine positioning. One of the important considerations for buying a watch is the attractiveness of the strap. Titan watches come up golden, silver and leather straps (with different colours).
Yet another consideration for the customers is the dial – both size and colour. Titan watches come with large size, mid –size and small size (especially for ladies watches) dials. Big dials are preferred by boys and men. Titan has also introduced golden, white, blue and black dials. Today the younger generation is looking for trendy and stylish watches, and Titan is trying to meet their tastes. Challenges Ahead Titan has offered a range of products to every segment of the consumers. It needs to maintain the image it has created over the years and preserve its reputation for quality.
The company has taken a decision to organise various training programmes for franchises, their managers and customer relationship managers to maintain its standards of high customer service. Entry into designer watches is one more area of development which can be pursued vigorously. Titan caters to the low-priced segment with Fasttrack collection, mid –size with Raaga, Steel and Edge, while high-end is catered by Nebula. It had also brought out brands like gents Classique, gents Steel – Nano, gents Edge, and ladies Karisma.
To sustain its global competitive advantage, new strategic partnerships with designers have to be forged. Rural markets are an untapped segment in India. Sonata is created for the mass market and has emerged as India’s largest selling watch brand. Titan has opened exclusive showrooms in small towns. Consumer’s acceptance of its price and reliability is a major challenge in rural and semi-urban market. However, staying ahead of competition would be the overall priority of the brand managers in Titan. Points for discussion: 1. How did the TITAN watches change consumers motivation in the wrist watch market?
Examine the following statement: “Marketer’s do not create needs; latent needs pre-exist marketers. 2. How can a product manager of wrist watches use possible research findings that the Indian market is willing to buy a high priced Indian made watch when he hears that the same company has a global reach? The issue is that of convincing the outer-directed consumers who are high on innovativeness to acquire an Indian made watch with a low perceived risk. 3. What kind of emotional message will Titan choose to meet consumer’s changing desire from durability to sophistication?