Luxury markets cannot change their identities. All they can do is offer something different, something unique in the products they are already selling. For example, Tag Heuer is trying to merge digital aspects like receiving calls, keeping track of the miles walked or recording a person’s pulse rate with the help of their luxury, Swiss-made watches.
And it’s not just Tag Heuer. Other brands too are shifting focus to digital, where currently mobile phones have the upper hand. Watch-makers are losing out on business since the younger generation has mobile phones and couldn’t be bothered to buy watches.
In order to encourage the youth to buy watches and increase their sales, luxury watches are going digital.
While on the outside the watch looks like, well, a watch, it is the features that add excitement to this wrist ornament, so much so that people are even buying watches that are upwards of Rs 50,000.
CMD, The Prime Luxury Watch Boutique, Rajeev Chopra talks to Images Retail’s Parama Sen on whether the wristwatch is actually dead, the onset of the digital era and smartwatches and the aura of luxury timepieces…
Considering the almost non-existent luxury market in the East, what do you think is the potential of the luxury watch market?
It is true that luxury market is almost non-existent in the East mostly because there is lack of industries and factories and moreover the mental wavelength of people is different. Also, it is difficult to market in the East since it has been neglected by the Central Government itself. Considering this angle we thought Kolkata is the best place to launch our super luxury products. All I can say is, earlier people used to go out of Kolkata to buy luxury items but now since the brand awareness has increased and many luxury brands are making its way in the city, people do not find the need to travel elsewhere to purchase luxury products.
What is the USP of your brand?
Our USP is basically to have a good relationship with the customer, provide good service, as well as high quality products. We are the authorized service centre for all brands that we deal in. And, as we can see that our customers are very happy with us when it comes to the services we provide.
What are the major trends in India now and how far are those different from the time you have started?
We started off with very few brands like Longines, but with the coming of international brands people are changing their choices and migrating to these new brands like Hublot. Hublot has only one design but it is doing really well. So, the marketing strategies are changing of all the major luxury brands and people want celebrities to promote their product.
Give us a brief journey of the brand.
We started in 2003 as a small retail shop with a handful of Indian brands, and it was only the passion that helped us make it so big. We have made our systems good and run like a corporate house. Thirteen years down in this we have now emerged as a national player with a total of 24 stores in India, spread across five states. Talking about, tier-II and tier-III cities they have the buying power but super luxury cannot be done there. The most that can be done is Tissot and Rado.
What are the challenges you face in the industry and what is your strategy to overcome those?
The biggest challenge that we face is from online businesses. To overcome that we have come up with our own website, theprimewatches.com. We are authorized to display the products of all the major luxury brands in which we deal. Now if someone wants to buy an Omega watch, they click on the option and a page opens which shows contact us and there is a form to be filled up. Once they have filled the form and provided there contact details we talk to them. So we contact our customers and manage the online business thus, assuring them that we sell all original products.
We promote our website through social media and newspapers and magazines. Till now we have been going strong with this website.
Plans for the future?
We are planning to open our stores in tier-I and tier-II cities just to bring about a brand awareness among the population of these cities. We can have small stores and in case if something is not available in that store then we can ask the customers to check our website and select whatever brands they need and we can have them delivered to that location where the store is located.
Are Indians brand-conscious in case of buying a wristwatch?
Yes, people are brand-conscious when it comes to buying watches. Like for men the only ornament is a good branded watch, that is the only thing left for them. As for women, they have started replacing bangles with a good watch. So, wrist watches will never die, like people are saying with the coming of mobile phones wrist watches will gradually fade out. The trend of wrist watches can never die since every fortnight or every six to eight months new portfolios and new designs keep coming up, revolutions of models also happen.
What is the price range that can be considered as the most favoured by the consumers?
Talking of Indian buyers, 80-90 per cent of customers who buy watches from our stores are all below Rs 2 lakh and 20 per cent are Rs 2 lakh and above. We see that the rich are becoming very conscious about the watches they buy and their prices, but the service class people, who have a good salary package or are at a good position, buy our luxury watches of roughly Rs 2 to 3 lakh. This is where we are generating our sales by generating new consumers.
What are the most popular categories of your brand?
We have two categories, i.e. Luxury and Fashion. In luxury we have, Longines, Omega, Rado, Tissot, and Tag Huer. And in fashion category we have, Michael Kors, Fossil, Armani, Guess, and Victorinox. So, these brands generate 70-80 per cent of the total business.