Sohini Sen

"We did a lot of research to understand the modern Indian woman": Rajan Amba, Titan

Titan Raga's latest commercial has evoked mixed reactions from industry experts and netizens alike. We decided to speak to Rajan Amba, global marketing and product head, watches and accessories division, Titan Company, about the campaign and the consumer insights that led to it.

Amba, who has been with Titan for over two and half years, is in-charge of the company's wrist watch portfolio, including sub-brands like Nebula, Xylys, HTSE and Purple, as well as premium collections like Raga, Edge and Ducati. And this list of names is not exhaustive. Brand Fastrack, though, does not fall under his purview.

Prior to joining Titan, Amba worked at Nike India, before which he was with Levi Strauss.

In 2013-14, the growth in what Titan calls its 'higher priced watch segment' (Rs. 5,000+) has been ten times the growth in the brand's overall watch business. Also, the average price of a Titan watch went up by 13 per cent in 2013-14, as compared to the previous year.

Interestingly, Titan's 'modern clusters' grew 12 times more than its 'traditional clusters' did, during the same period. In fact, moving away from a traditional, conservative offering, to a more contemporary, modern one, was one of Titan's key brand objectives this year. And Titan's new commercial for Raga sure seems to be in sync with this goal.

Titan Watches ups its ad budget by 10-15 per cent each year, we learn.

Edited Excerpts.

Edited Excerpts

Previously, your ads either positioned Raga as an alternative to jewellery (Rani Mukherjee film) or highlighted the product's aesthetic value (Katrina Kaif film). The current campaign though, is about women's empowerment. Why the drastic change?

Why not?

This is an evolution in the journey of the brand. Earlier, Titan Raga stood for the modern woman's sensual side. Today, we stand for something else. It is a new approach. We did this because we needed to be relevant to the woman of today.

We did a lot of research to understand the modern Indian woman. We looked at media semiotics to understand women's representation in popular media, such as films, something we do before launching new communication.

However, before a new product launch, we go to market, see what the consumers are wearing, we study international market trends and are constantly in conversation with merchants to understand what can work.

We want to be present in the segment and lead the customer there, instead of following the customer into the segment.

Some people feel the kind of empowerment shown in this ad sets the clock back by 15-20 years - the whole 'Quit your job if you want to marry me' threat is not very common today... or is it?

A lot of people will believe that it is slightly dated. But we have seen, online and offline, that many people continue to think this way. There are many women, in their late 30s, who are successful, have not married, are travelling... (a type embodied by Nimrat Kaur in the new TVC). So it is a reality.

But we are not targeting just them, and neither do we want to alienate anyone. We target the modern Indian woman who has new, evolving expressions. And as we get more insights, our ads will evolve more. The brand is above all. If you build the brand, the business will follow.

One can't help but notice that your new commercial has this 'Tanishq feel' to it. We have to ask - Why is Raga doing a Tanishq? To what extent does the TG for both brands overlap?

That is a very good observation!

Our new approach is based on an insight that led us from 'beauty' to 'being contemporary'. The same may be true for Tanishq. The TG for both may be similar. Our core TG falls within the 25 to 35 years age bracket. For Tanishq it would be around 25 to 40 years.

That said, I'll add - Raga has been around much longer. Many people in their late 30s and 40s have grown up with it.

As a wrist watch marketer, what would you say is the biggest challenge this segment poses?

From a marketing perspective, I'd say we are losing a share of wallet to apparel and footwear, at both, the e-commerce and brick-and-mortar levels. I may buy five to six shirts a year, but only two watches, at max. Apparel and shoes give you a way of changing your appearance easily.

Tell us about your markets beyond the metros...

We try to invest in tier II and III markets as much as possible; the idea is to keep the brand 'active' in these cities. A lot of small cities work well for a lot of brands. Pune is no longer a surprise for any marketer. Coimbatore, Lucknow, Bhubaneshwar and Patna are big markets for us. Patna, in fact, is our tenth biggest market in India.

Globally, you are in charge of brand Titan in 33 markets... which countries are most receptive to the brand?

We are very strong in a large part of the Middle East. Even South East Asia is a good market for us, especially places like Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.

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