How innovation and empathy-driven consumer connect helped Titan Eyeplus cross its 2019 sales figures for October
Saumen Bhaumik, CEO, Titan EyewearTitan Eyeplus
To address evolving consumer needs, Titan Eyeplus recently launched anti-fog lens and anti-viral frames

How innovation and empathy-driven consumer connect helped Titan Eyeplus cross its 2019 sales figures for October

To address evolving consumer needs, Titan Eyeplus recently launched anti-fog lens and anti-viral frames
  • Titan Eyeplus has been closely listening to its consumers and innovating to address consumer pain-points.
  • During the pandemic, it launched anti-fog lens and even anti-viral frames to address its consumer's evolving needs.
  • Saumen Bhaumik, CEO, Titan Eyeplus tells us how this strategy has helped it get back on its path to recovery.
The pandemic has changed our lives in many ways in the last few months. Consumers around the world experienced new problems and brands that listened to their consumers, and innovated to solve consumers' evolving pain-points are probably the one's who will come out of this situation relatively less impacted.

Realizing how wearing masks was creating a problem in the lives of people who wear glasses due to fogging, the brand quickly innovated and launched its anti-fog lens.

Meanwhile, innovating further, the brand has also recently launched Anti-Viral Frames that the brand claims is certified to kill 99.99% germs and bacterial activity on the surface.

We therefore caught up with Saumen Bhaumik, CEO, Titan Eyeplus to understand how the brand listened to its consumers, innovated quickly and made sure it was able to solve their problems. Bhaumik also talks to us about the steps the brand is taking towards making its retail experience safer for its staff as well as consumers in this new world order.


Q) This has been a difficult year for most businesses across the world. How have you tackled the situation and ensured minimal business impact during this adverse time?
This has been an unprecedented period to say the least, no one could have prepared for this. However, it taught us a few new things and most importantly, gave us a window to reset many aspects of the EyeCare business. We did several things at an intense pace, with the highest focus on product innovation and cost compression!
Results have been very encouraging. While top line dropped but our financial performance has improved significantly.

Q) There are a lot of discussions around what the future of retail will look like. As a leader of a retail brand, what do you think the new normal will look like? How will you equip your showrooms to be relevant in these dynamic, demanding times?
The world seems to have changed irreversibly at least in some aspects and surely for sometime to come until a reliable vaccine is developed. Fear of the next pandemic will always be there at the back of our minds leading to health and hygiene becoming a new code for the retail industry. Irrespective of the category, consumers will seek contactless solution and a hybrid model of physical and digital will become even more essential. OMNI is the new norm, which is where we have invested.

Q) Eyewear demands close physical contact with others when it comes to eye check-ups etc.How are you ensuring the safety of both your employees and consumers?
As an eye care retailer, we have always encouraged the need for maintaining proper hygiene for good vision and overall health. However, now with sanitization, social distancing, and safety assuming even greater importance in our lives, we have made proper arrangements to uphold these practices at all our Titan Eyeplus stores. Apart from maintaining hygiene and sanitizing our products after every try-out, we also introduced an online appointment booking process for all our stores, which helped in avoiding overcrowding at stores.

We also realized the growing need of making quality eye care accessible across the nation, especially when mobility is a huge constraint and a health hazard. That is how we decided to collaborate with Sankara Nethralaya. Consumers who need serious eyecare will benefit the most from the tele-consultation as they get access to the best of Ophthalmologists/Surgeons along with support from our trained staff. This facility is currently available in select Titan Eyeplus stores across Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai. We have also recently initiated an online eye-screening test on our website that will give users an indication of whether they need vision correction. Basis screening results, customers can visit an ophthalmologist or a qualified optometrist.

Q) What kind of impact has there been on the eyewear industry in general and on Titan Eyeplus?
Given that prescription eyewear is a need category, we saw month-on-month improvement in sales post lockdown. Titan Eyeplus retail crossed last year’s figures for the month of October. Other channels like Trade are picking up and we are in the process of exit from LFS channel. Demand for sunglasses category (discretionary category) on the other hand is still to pick up and may take longer to recover.

Q) How are you streamlining consumer visits and ensuring there’s no overcrowding at any point?
Online Appointment booking was set in all our stores in the months of June, July itself during the early phases of the Unlock. Having prior appointments allowed us to effectively manage customer flow at stores ensuring least amount of wait time before the eye test. While appointments were not made mandatory, it was recommended to all customers to enquire before coming to shop.

Q) Titan Eyeplus has come up with a lot of innovative products that were a result of changing consumer needs during the lockdown, like the anti-fog glasses, etc. How challenging has it been to listen to your consumers and come up with innovative products to solve these evolving consumer pain-points?
Keeping a real-time pulse on changing customer needs, expectations and pain-points and then rapidly innovating and delivering the right solution has always been another dimension of our business.

We realized the need for an anti-fog product early on but there was a feeling that COVID too will pass soon. As it seems now that we are going to have to live with the mask for a while, we came up with a plausible solution of the Anti-Fog lenses that can certainly minimize fogging and give you clear and comfortable vision.

This listening and connecting the dots between the problem and the solution has led to our latest innovation that is the Anti-Viral Frames. Tested at NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) the product is certified to kill 99.99% germs and bacterial activity on the surface.

Likewise after an extensive study of over 1000 Indian faces we came up with a customised range of frames called IndiFit. We believe 80% of Indians today will have a perfect-fit-frame in our stores throughIndiFit.

Q) As a leader, what have been a few of your biggest learnings from the past few months been? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
COVID has been responsible for new behaviours, and learnings, for consumers as well as brands. The past few months have given us time and opportunities that we used wisely and continued to provide accessible and affordable eye care and eyewear solutions to our consumers. We have been very adaptive and worked towards restructuring the organization from manufacturing to sale, from the flow of information to material, alignment became better and we focused on being more productive. The results of this can be seen in the new product innovation from our teams.

Q) How are you expanding your presence further in the country?
We have opened about 29 stores in the last six months although without the disruption it would have been a 100. We currently have 565 stores in 230 cities. For near term, it is going to be calibrated network expansion.

Q) How important has ad and marketing been in the past few months, in staying connected with your audience?
While we had topical and relevant advertisement on products like AntiFog, Anti Viral, Neo Progressive lenses, we have not been big on advertising in the last 9 months. For us consumer understanding has always been the essence of marketing and in Titan Eyeplus the Consumer is central to our business model.

We pride ourselves on the fact that we go the extra mile to ensure the highest satisfaction for our customers. Times like these call for this empathy even more than normal times. Our teams have reached out to about half a million of our consumers during the lockdown phase, not for any sales pitch but to solve their queries about eye health, steps for taking care of their eyeglasses, and buying online through digital assistance where physical stores were inaccessible.

We also recently launched an Online Eye Screening test that urges customers to take a quick test and ensure good eye health. It is this empathy-driven strong consumer connect which is our core marketing philosophy and has remained unchanged even post the pandemic.

That’s why we have over 3,50,000 customers rate us in Google with an average score 4.89/5 and that’s how we got the best customer experience strategy award in 2018 at an world forum at Amsterdam ahead of Dell, Shell, Microsoft and Amex.

Q) Has there been a change in your marketing mix? Will we see you increase your presence on digital?
We have used a balanced approach in generating awareness, so far relying equally on both traditional media as well as new age digital and we plan to continue doing the same.