The smart watches and bands segment has grown significantly in the last 3-4 years and will be the pillars of future growth for us: Suparna Mitra, Titan Company
Suparna Mitra, Chief Executive Officer, Watches and Wearables Division, Titan Company Titan Company
How Titan Company is aiming at bringing back growth by Q1FY22

The smart watches and bands segment has grown significantly in the last 3-4 years and will be the pillars of future growth for us: Suparna Mitra, Titan Company

How Titan Company is aiming at bringing back growth by Q1FY22
  • The Watches and Wearables division of the Titan Company has been witnessing a good recovery since Q2FY21. The aim is to be able to bring back growth by Q1FY22.
  • Suparna Mitra, Chief Executive Officer, Watches and Wearables Division, at Titan Company tells us their areas of focus to bring back growth.
The year 2020 was difficult for all of us. Businesses witnessed slowdowns and many are still on their way to recovery - slowly but steadily. However, the watches and wearables division of the Titan Company started seeing recovery from Q2 and Suparna Mitra, Chief Executive Officer, Watches and Wearables Division, at Titan Company Limited is confident that the business will enter its growth phase in Q1 FY22.

Titan Company, despite being a legacy brand, has over the years, focused on innovation and creating products that are relevant to the changing consumer needs. It has listened to its consumers while crafting its products and that has helped the brand stay ahead of the curve.

In its Q3 results for FY20-21, the Titan Company stated that its Watches and Wearables division witnessed around 88% recovery and things are only looking up.

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

Q)Watch is typically a non-essential category and yet in a year when people were careful about spending, you have been able to see recovery. How did you ensure consumers came back to your brand?
The category witnessed a slow start to 2020. Consumer demand in fashion accessories started picking up steadily from Q2 onward, and we saw a good recovery during the festive season. We introduced a lot of new collections in the wearables space to tap into the newer consumer trends. We launched Titan Pay – the first payment watch of India, in association with State Bank of India, to cater to the growing need for contactless payments. We also launched our first full touch smartwatch – Titan Connected X, to cater to the demand for smartwatches with a contemporary stylish look, and this was very well received by the market.

More recently, we launched TraQ by Titan, a performance tracking device and app targeted at thousands of people who have taken up active sports such as running, cycling and swimming. Even before the pandemic, we were seeing an increasing number of Indians take up such activities, aiming for a healthy and active lifestyle. The pandemic only accentuated this trend, with even more people adopting these activities towards fitness. We had also noticed that this segment was under-served. The options for performance tracking were limited, not widely available, and sometimes not very affordable. So we decided to create a range of performance tracking watches for the serious runner, cyclist and tri-athlete 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 resumed going to work, many are still operating from their homes. In our experience so far, we’ve seen a good recovery across our business and that’s largely true for the overall fashion accessories category as well.

    We realized that while people were locked down, they were feeling a lot of emotions towards their loved ones and all the missed milestones such as graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, new jobs, etc, that they were not able to celebrate. We used that for the Titan Gift a Smile campaign, exhorting people to reach out and thank loved ones with a gift. We also witnessed a rise in our average price points by a significant margin during this time, as gifting as a purchase trigger started working well for us. We also did a campaign called ‘Let's Get India Ticking’. It was not a watch campaign, but a category agnostic, brand agnostic campaign about getting consumption back.

    While WFH is a new phenomenon, and is likely to stay in some form, we see that watches as an accessory continues to see strong traction. The need for dressing up and looking 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 revival have you witnessed? Are things back to pre-COVID levels? If not, by when do you anticipate that will happen?
    The Watches and Wearables Division witnessed a recovery of 88% in Q3. We are looking at growth in Q1 FY 22.

    Q) During the lockdown, the way you communicate with your consumers became critical. How did you ensure you stayed connected with your consumers?
    Our attempt was to continuously engage with the consumers through the lockdown. We conducted thousands of empathy calls to our customers across all stores in our network to check on their well-being. We also initiated several consumer engagement activities through our social media handles. We also created thoughtful campaigns around special occasions such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to communicate our sentiments and spread the message of hope and positivity that together, we will soonovercome these testing times.

    When the markets started opening up after the lockdown, gifting - which is a strong platform for watches, got an additional push as the idea of “self-gifting” became popular. Consumers were looking forward to rewarding themselves for having coped with the lockdown. They were also looking to celebrate important milestones that they had missed out on during the lockdown. The company curated “Gift a Titan Smile” initiative with an attempt to revive sales.

    Online has always been a big part of sales and we are doing a lot of digital marketing activities. We are also driving a few Omni-channel initiatives such as video calling, where the store staff helps the customer select the watch they want and the sale is completed online.

    Q) Consumer needs are evolving at a fast pace and Titan is a legacy brand. How do you ensure that you are in tune with these changing needs?
    The consumer is central to everything we do and their needs shape each and every offering we launch. We have several mechanism of capturing consumer voice. 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 which feeds into our communication and product plans for the upcoming seasons. We also have a process of capturing consumer feedback through our stores on regular basis.

    Q) You have recently launched Titan Edge Mechanical. What was the thought behind this new offering?
    Over the last 37 years, we have always kept our customers’ needs at the heart of our product innovations. One of the most distinguished among them is Titan Edge – the world's slimmest watch that was launchedin 2002. Since then, Titan Edge has introduced some of the most interesting innovation 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 mechanical movement with the renowned slimness of Edge. The Titan team worked on this for 5 years and came up with the masterpiece – Titan Edge Mechanical, the slimmest mechanical watch made by an Indian watchmaker. This limited edition collection of 200 watches is a demonstration of Indian manufacturing prowess and marks the entry for Titan in the rarefied world of luxury watches.

    The Edge Mechanical appeals to three different segments. One is the large base of Titan Edge fans who have been waiting for the next offering from Titan Edge. It is also meant for consumers who appreciate mechanical movements and are current owners and connoisseurs of high end mechanical watches. Finally, for all those who have made their unique place in a new vibrant 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 are you going to market this range? Will it be a 360 degree approach?
    We launched a multimedia campaign with significant investments across print and digital mediums, along with proportional spends on social media, influencer marketing and in-app advertising. This was in line with our strategy to ensure optimum visibility for one of our finest timepieces, which marks our entry in the rarefied world of luxury mechanical watches.

    Q) Give us a sense of what your ad spends this year will look like? Are you planning to increase it? What are the mediums you will be heavily investing on?
    We will be entering growth phase in Q1 FY 22 and our media spends will be in line with our growth objectives.Our campaigns will feature a 360 degree approach with investments across TV, OOH, print & digital media.

    Q) Going ahead, what will be your key areas of focus to grow the business further?
    Going forward, innovation will be a key growth driver for us. The trend for premiumization continues very strongly, even after the pandemic. Titan Edge Mechanical has opened new getaways for the brand in the premium segment. In the wearables space, key smart watches and smart bands segment has grown significantly in the last 3 to 4 years. These areas will be the pillars of future growth for the company. Our endeavour in Omni channel and phygital will also play a key role in offering a unified and enhanced experience, in line with shifting consumer buying behaviour.