Smart watches

The segment of smart watches and bracelets has grown significantly over the past 3-4 years and will be the pillars of our future growth for us: Suparna Mitra, Titan Company

  • the Watches and Wearables dividing the Company of the Titans is experiencing a good recovery since T2FY21. The goal is to be able to bring growth back by Q1FY22.
  • Suparna Mitra, General Manager of Watches and Apparel Division, Titan Company, tells us about her areas of focus for reigniting growth.

2020 has been a difficult year for all of us. Businesses have experienced downturns and many are still on the road to recovery – slowly but surely. However, Titan Company’s watches and wearables division began to see a recovery from the second quarter and Suparna MitraChief Executive Officer, Watches and Wearables Division, at Titan Company Limited is confident that the business will enter its growth phase in the first quarter of FY22.

Titan Company, despite being a legacy brand, has focused over the years on innovating and creating products that meet the changing needs of consumers. She listened to her consumers when making her products and that helped the brand stay ahead of the curve.

In its third quarter results for FY20-21, the Titan company said its Watches and Apparel division has recovered around 88% and things are only looking up.

We recently caught up with Mitra to understand the brand’s focus areas, to track the growth momentum and here’s what she had to say:

Q) Watches are generally a non-essential category and yet in a year where people have been careful with their spending, you may have seen a recovery. How did you make sure consumers came back to your brand?

The category had a slow start to 2020. Consumer demand for fashion accessories started to steadily increase from the second quarter, and we saw a good recovery during the holiday season. We introduced many new collections into the wearables space to tap into new consumer trends. We launched Titan Pay, India’s first payment watch, in association with State Bank of India to meet the growing need for contactless payments. We also launched our first full-touch smartwatch – Titan Connected X, to meet the demand for contemporary and stylish looking smartwatches, and it was very well received by the market.

More recently, we launched TraQ by Titan, a performance tracking device and app for thousands of people who participate in active sports such as running, cycling and swimming. Even before the pandemic, we were seeing an increasing number of Indians engaging in such activities, aiming for a healthy and active lifestyle. The pandemic has only accentuated this trend, with even more people embracing these activities towards fitness. We also noticed that this segment was underserved. Performance tracking options were limited, unavailable, and sometimes unaffordable. So we set out to create a range of performance tracking watches for serious runners, cyclists and triathletes and the response to this product has been very encouraging so far.

Q) What were some interesting consumer trends you witnessed during the lockdown last year?

While some consumers have returned to work, many are still operating from home. Based on our experience so far, we have seen a good recovery across our business and this is also largely true for the overall fashion accessories category.

We realized that while people were locked up, they felt a lot of emotions towards their loved ones and all the missed milestones such as graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, new jobs, etc., that they weren’t able to celebrate. We used it for the Titan Gift a Smile campaign, urging people to reach out and thank their loved ones with a gift. We’ve also seen a significant increase in our average prices during this time as giveaways as purchase triggers have started to work well for us. We also launched a campaign called “Let’s Get India Ticking”. It was not a watch campaign, but a category and brand independent campaign on the recovery of consumption.

While WFH is a new phenomenon and likely to stay in one form or another, we see that watches as accessories continue to enjoy strong traction. The need to dress up and look good continues to be relevant and will be even stronger for festive occasions/celebrations. Watches continue to be a thoughtful and personal gift.

Q) What kind of business takeovers have you seen? Have things returned to pre-COVID levels? If not, by when do you expect this to happen?

The Watches and Wearables division saw an 88% recovery in Q3. We expect growth in Q1 FY 22.

Q) During lockdown, how you communicate with your consumers has become critical. How did you make sure you stayed connected with your consumers?

Our attempt was to continuously engage with consumers during lockdown. We have made thousands of empathy calls to our customers across all stores in our network to check on their well-being. We have also launched several consumer engagement activities through our social media handles. We have also created thoughtful campaigns around special occasions such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to communicate our feelings and spread the message of hope and positivity that together we will soon overcome these difficult times.

When markets started to open up post-lockdown, giveaways – which are a solid platform for watches – received an added boost as the idea of ​​”self-gifting” became popular. Consumers were eager to reward themselves for coping with the lockdown. They were also looking to celebrate milestones they had missed during the lockdown. The company organized the “Gift a Titan Smile” initiative in an effort to boost sales.

Online has always been a big part of sales and we do a lot of digital marketing Activities. We also run a few omnichannel initiatives such as video calls, where store staff help the customer select the watch they want and the sale is made online.

Q) Consumer needs are changing at a rapid pace and Titan is a traditional brand. How do you ensure that you are in tune with these changing needs?

The consumer is at the center of everything we do and their needs shape every offer we launch. We have several consumer voice capture mechanisms. Besides formal market research, we do a lot of listening through one-on-one immersions with our loyalty program consumer base. We also use Big Data and analytics to predict micro-trends that feed into our communication and product plans for the coming seasons. We also have a regular consumer feedback collection process in our stores.

Q) You recently launched Titan Edge Mechanical. What was the thinking behind this new offering?

Over the past 37 years, we have always put our customers’ needs at the heart of our product innovations. One of the most distinguished of these is Titan Edge – the world’s thinnest watch which was launched in 2002. Since then, Titan Edge has introduced some of the most exciting innovations under its umbrella like the Skeletal Edge collection in 2014 and Titan Edge Ceramic in 2017.

We wanted to take Edge to the next level with a mechanical movement. This would combine the complexity of the mechanical movement with Edge’s renowned thinness. Titan team worked on it for 5 years and created the masterpiece – Titan Edge Mechanical, the finest mechanical watch made by an Indian watchmaker. This limited edition collection of 200 watches is a demonstration of Indian manufacturing prowess and marks Titan’s entry into the rarefied world of luxury timepieces.

The Edge Mechanical appeals to three different segments. One is the large Titan Edge fan base who have been waiting for the next Titan Edge offering. It is also aimed at consumers who appreciate mechanical movements and are currently owners and connoisseurs of high-end mechanical watches. Finally, for anyone who has made their place unique in a vibrant new India, this is a rare combination of design and engineering coming together and they will wear this watch with pride in India and Indian brands.

Q) How will you market this range? Will it be a 360 degree approach?

We launched a cross-media campaign with significant investments in print and digital media, along with commensurate spending on social media, influencer marketing and in-app advertising. This is part of our strategy to ensure optimal visibility for one of our most beautiful timepieces, which marks our entry into the rarefied world of luxury mechanical watches.

Q) Give us an idea of ​​what your ad spend will look like this year? Do you plan to increase it? What media are you going to invest heavily in?

We will enter a growth phase in the first quarter of FY22 and our media spend will be in line with our growth objectives. Our campaigns will feature a 360 degree approach with investments across TV, OOH, print and digital media.

Q) Going forward, what will be your main areas of focus to further develop the business?

Going forward, innovation will be a key driver of growth for us. The premiumization trend continues very strongly, even after the pandemic. Titan Edge Mechanical opened new escapades for the brand in the premium segment. In the apparel space, the key segment of smartwatches and smartbands has grown significantly over the past 3-4 years. These areas will be the pillars of the company’s future growth. Our omnichannel and phygital efforts will also play a key role in offering a unified and enriched experience, in line with the evolution of consumer purchasing behavior.