Sumita Vaid

Timex resets its watch

The Timex brand repositioning is based on an image overhaul – from that of a youthful lower-end watch to a ‘techy’ fashion statement

Timex has a new gameplan for India. To begin with, it plans to phase out all its watches priced below Rs 1,000 by the end of this year and focus on consolidating the Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 price band. The idea is to recast itself as a premium watch-maker. To reinforce its premiumness, it will soon launch 100 new models in the premium ‘Cognoscenti' collection. And before the year-end, the company plans to get some of Timex's international brands such as Guess, FCUK and Nautica Timbreland in India. The target: notch up a turnover of Rs 80 crore by the year end, a Rs 10 crore increase over last year.

The company's new-found aggression is understandable. Timex has ticked long enough to be the most recognisable name in fashion, but in India it has been stuck in a bind since it snapped its ties with Tata-owned Titan Industries (the two had allied in 1991).

Many predicted Timex was living on borrowed time. What rankled the most was the brand positioning. During the days of the tie-up, Timex was the one that got boxed in at the lower-end of the market with a range of children's watches and sports watches. What made matters worse was that the joint venture with Titan stipulated that Timex be responsible for manufacturing and Titan for marketing. After the split, therefore, Timex had to set up its marketing and distribution facilities from scratch.

By the time Timex was through picking up the pieces, the lower-end segment of the organised watch sector was crowded with a host of players. There was Sonata (from Titan in the Rs 350 to Rs 1,200 range), Maxima (from PA Industries in the Rs 350 to Rs 1,000 range), Swarna (from HMT in the Rs 630 to Rs 885 range) and Shreyas (also from HMT which comes for Rs 495).

"The lower end of the watch market is increasingly getting commoditised; differentiation can only come from branding. Therefore, we want to crystallise a premium image for the brand in the consumer's mind. In the process, sacrificing part of the business, which is not directly relevant to the target consumer, is critical. But mind you, we are not positioning Timex in the ‘luxury' premium category," says Kapil Kapoor, managing director, Timex Watches Ltd, India.

While changing the perception about a brand may seem a difficult task, Timex is hoping its aggressive advertising plan will help get the message across. It has upped its ad budget by just about a couple of crores - from Rs 11 crore last year to Rs 13 crore this year - and has suitably tweaked the message to woo the 25-plus urban consumers. "The aim is two-fold. One, reinforce Timex's image of being a sporty and trendy watch, and, two, expand on the technology aspect by associating it with quality," says Kapoor.

Kapoor says Timex has a clear advantage. "People associate Timex with quality," he says. A fact that has been borne out by a recent survey conducted by market research agency Quantum in 600 retail outlets across the country. The company claims while Titan leads the market with a 50 per cent share (inclusive of Sonata's market share), Timex's market share has grown from 18 per cent last year to 22 per cent this year. With this in mind, Timex has started working on innovative display methods to draw attention at the retail counter.

Alongside, Timex will continue with its long-standing association with sports. This year it has tied up the cricket magazine, Wisden 20:20 to co-sponsor a programme for Doordarshan - ‘DD Wisden 20:20, powered by Timex' - which is about analysis of all the test series through the year on the DD Sports channel. Timex's new TV commercial will break across sports channels soon, while the print campaign will appear in all national dailies and select magazines. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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