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Victorinox: A timeless Swiss Innovation

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Inventor of the ‘Original Swiss Army Knife’, Victorinox has come a long way since it was founded in 1884. Still a benchmark in the industry, the Swiss Army Knife has gradually evolved with time and advanced technology. Today, the brand sells not only Swiss knives but also timepieces, travel gear, luggage items and more. Headquartered at Switzerland, Victorinox is also credited as the largest global manufacturer of pocketknives. The brand manufactures a whopping 120,000 Swiss Army knives per day at the Victorinox factory in Ibach! Anish Goel, MD, Victorinox India shares the journey of the iconic brand in India and tells us how the country is becoming one of the fastest growing markets for Victorinox globally.

Q. How has the journey been for Victorinox in India?

Having introduced and sold this iconic brand in India since the last 17 years, it has been a challenging task. However, this has turned into a passion for me now. Today, the brand is synonymous with not just Swiss Army knives but also travel gear, watches and lifestyle products. We have constantly been expanding the product line, and also our network of chain stores and partnerships across the country. The products have been well accepted by HNI consumers in India, both male and female aged 18–55 years.

Q. What is your assessment of the travel gear market in India? What are the latest trends?

In the last few years, we have seen great transformation in the travel gear market in India. Bags look smarter than ever before with increased fashion quotient. Hard-side bags have been introduced with break-resistant shell while at the same time they have become much lighter. Today, more and more international brands are targeting the business traveller with their collections, as these are the people who have the spending power, are frequent flyers and are very conscious of the aesthetics and functionality of their luggage.

Q. What are your views on the Asia Pacific market and India in particular for your brand?

India is a very important market not only for Victorinox, but also for most of the leading global brands. While most of Europe is battling an economic slowdown, these brands are eyeing countries like India to fuel their growth. That is the reason why we have seen an influx of international luxury brands in the recent years, which has coincided with the growth of luxury retail space in the country.

The growth we are witnessing YOY makes me fairly confident that India will soon emerge as one of the largest markets for Victorinox globally.

Q. Tell us about your marketing strategy for India.

Victorinox has chosen not to take the traditional route of signing up a brand ambassador from India followed up by a blitzkrieg of television advertisements to make its presence felt. We have worked towards expanding our retail presence and have concentrated on targeting consumers through a combination of advertising in select publications and conducting BTL activities.

Q. Kindly share details about your e-retail strategy for this fiscal.

We consider India as a huge market for e-commerce, as the Internet-savvy population of India is more than the total population of many countries. Victorinox has worked towards expanding its online presence and today we are present in all of the top online shopping portals in the country. We are now striving to ensure that the maximum width of our product portfolio is present online. However, contrary to the popular online trend in India, where e-commerce is perceived as a discounted channel, Victorinox controls its sale prices very strictly. This year, Victorinox will become the first premium Swiss brand to implement an online selling price control mechanism in India. We also try to ensure that the most comprehensive product is available online for consumers to make purchase decisions.

Q. How much does e-commerce contribute towards your total sales? What kind of growth trajectory do you foresee in this fiscal?

Online sales contribute nearly 20 percent to our total sales. We foresee double of what our online sales is for the year 2014 as compared to the previous year.

Q. What are your top selling items or products in India?

The Victorinox Climber Swiss Army Knife, Victorinox Slimline Laptop Backpack, Victorinox Document Organizer and Victorinox Swiss Army Maverick GS Watch are currently our highest selling products in terms of volumes.

Q. What is the average bill size at your stores?

The average ticket size would be approximately Rs. 2,500.

Q. What is the price bracket for your offerings?

Our basic core of Swiss Army Knives range from Rs. 850 to Rs. 9,000.
While most of our small travel accessories start from Rs. 2,000, our backpacks are between Rs. 4,500 and Rs. 8,000. Out big size luggage items are priced between Rs. 14,000 to Rs. 28,000.

The watches starts from Rs. 16,000 to Rs. 1 lakh plus. The ASP of our watches is between Rs. 35,000 and Rs. 45,000.

Q. What is the sales percentage for Victorinox knives, watches, and luggage in India?

Victorinox knives are our biggest division, which approximately contributes to 45 percent of our sales followed by luggage at 32 percent, and watches at 23 percent.

Q. Which cities see the greatest demand for your products through e-commerce? Are there any specific products that are doing well in terms of sales in the e-commerce domain?

South India is the biggest online market for our products. As far as cities are concerned, Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai see the maximum transactions. However, we also see a large number of transactions from Tier-II and -III cities where we do not have a large retail presence and the customer only has the online option for purchasing our product.

In our experience, Swiss Army knives, backpacks and smaller accessories such as wallets and organisers sell the most through e-commerce. Surprisingly, we have also seen a lot of purchase of large luggage.

Q. Out of your top performing countries globally, where does India figure?

For Victorinox, the European market is the largest, followed closely by North America. Other large markets in Asia are Japan and Singapore where we have a very strong presence. India is one of the fastest growing markets for Victorinox globally. Our aim is to be amongst the largest markets for Victorinox within the next few five years and at the current rate of growth, we see that as being possible.

Q. You seem to be targeting hill stations like Shimla, Manali, Nainital, etc. for expansion through Basecamp. What has led to the decision?

We are not only targeting hills but also centres, which serve as a base for adventure travellers and tourists. As most of our products appeal to that specific demographic, we see immense potential in these places. Apart from hill stations, we will also be targeting tourist hotspots in Rajasthan and the North East through our channel partners and retailers.

Q. Victorinox is eyeing Rs. 200 crore sales within five years. What is the business strategy you have in place to achieve that figure?

We expect a large chunk of that business to come from a combination of the online market, travel retail outlets and corporate business. There are also various associations with automobile companies, which are underway and will be soon announced. You will also soon hear of our association with a large lifestyle retail chain, which itself will have the potential to take our products to over 200 new prime outlets within the next 18 months.

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