After nearly six years of selling premium watches and eyewear in India, Tag Heuer, one of the leading brands under the French luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey (LVMH) umbrella, wants to strengthen its presence in the country at all levels. The company has adopted a unique strategy which involves shifting focus to a more niche and high-end category, but with marketing investments in cricket which promises to take the brand to the masses.
“While LVMH is still very young in the country, India ranks as one of the top 15 countries in terms of revenue for Tag Heuer which is why we are very aggressive about the brand in the country,” says Manishi Sanwal, general manager, LVMH India.
Having identified the strong equity in the country’s market for men’s products, Tag Heuer will be soon entering a new category of men’s accessories. “This is a move from being a watch brand to men’s accessories brand. For our boutiques we are bringing in visiting card holders, keychains, wallets and some form of apparel,” says Sanwal.
The move to men’s accessories though new for India is part of the company’s global strategy that was adopted a year ago, that was directed at leveraging the brand’s high-end positioning and growing retail space around the globe.
“We are not doing away with women’s watches and eyewear as it contributes a significant portion to our sales, 50% globally and 18% in India, but the focus on men’s accessories is a project for us, which may extend to the women’s segment when the time is right,” said Sanwal.
The brand’s change in positioning from being a mid-range luxury watch manufacturer to a high-end one has reflected in the launch of their latest model - the TAG Heuer Grand Carrera which sells for as high as Rs. 2.6 lakhs. The price is a significant jump from the existing Tag Heuer range which sells for anywhere between Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 1.3 lakhs.
“This is because if you look at the overall swiss watch manufacturing industry both globally and in India, the growth is much higher at 25-30% than the normal watch industry that is growing at 12-13%,” says Sanwal. “Since we already have an established luxury brand image, why not leverage the brand on that platform,” he added. The company now plans to bring two other high-end luxury watch brands under the LVMH watch and jewellery division, Fendi and Zenith in the next three months.
And while the company has pledged Rs. 100 crore marketing investments in India for the next three years, the vehicles which have mostly been in glossy pages of fashion magazines and in premium sports properties such as polo and car racing, is now moving to perhaps the most mass market of all sports, cricket.
“Since Shah Rukh Khan is our brand ambassador and is also actively involved in the Indian Premier League (IPL), we thought it would be the best opportunity for us to be involved in cricket,” said Sanwal. The watch brand plans to launch special IPL watches which will be worn by the Kolkata team which is owned by Khan and will also be available in stores vefore the league kick-starts on April 18.
Tag Heuer has also won the sponsorship rights to being the official time-keeper of the Kolkata team. “The issues with associating with cricket is that the sport is very mass but IPL is big brand and besides Shah Rukh is associated with it, so it works for us,” said Sanwal.