The wearables segment in India has seen exponential growth over the last few years. Here’s how Fastrack is fighting for a slice of that pie.
In 2005, the Tata Group announced that Fastrack would be an independent fashion brand, focussing on India’s urban youth and growing fashion industry. The latest addition to Fastrack’s product portfolio is a smartwatch that comes equipped with Bluetooth calling.
Fastrack entered the wearable tech segment in 2021, with the introduction of activity trackers and truly wireless earbuds.
The wearables were introduced as a part of Fastrack’s Reflex range. The existing products in the brand’s portfolio include watches, sunglasses, bags and perfumes.
In recent times, the brand has had to diversify its product portfolio in a bid to compete with other Indian wearable brands that have been gaining popularity. Some of these independent brands are boAt, Noise, Fire-Boltt, and brands like Titan, Sonata, Fossil and Garmin offer smartwatches.
Recent research from Counterpoint's IoT service reveals that India’s smartwatch market grew 173% YoY in Q1 2022 (January-March). The same report mentions that Noise has 23% of marketshare, Fire-Boltt has 21% and boAt has 18% market share. In a bid to compete, the report mentions that more than 10 brands entered this booming market in Q1 2022 - including Fastrack and Reebok.
Fastrack hired actors Rohit Saraf and Sanya Malhotra as the range’s new brand ambassadors. The duo stars in the brand’s latest campaign, conceptualised by Lowe Lintas.
Over a video call with afaqs!, Ajay Maurya, marketing head at Fastrack, says that post-COVID, people are keen to track health parameters, such as blood oxygen levels and step count. But the initial craze for wearables was sparked off by fitness enthusiasts.
“When COVID struck, the sale of smartwatches soared. If you look at the category, it’s very online-heavy. But now that life is returning to normal, people want to visit a store to get a touch and feel of the watch, which makes it a very different buying experience.”
Maurya adds that the brand’s strength lies in on-ground stores and offline distribution of products. The target audience for the new Fastrack smartwatches, are people who are already loyal to the brand.
Maurya says it’s a strong insight that people are looking for Bluetooth calling with their smartwatches. “Apple had initially made the smartwatch popular, with its square dial. Even with our range, the square dial is the most popular variant. Round watch faces are making a strong comeback too.”
Navkendar Singh, associate vice president with IDC India, agrees that Bluetooth calling is a popular feature for smartwatches, but points out that Fastrack offers this feature at a much higher price than the other wearables brands in India. Fastrack’s Reflex Play range has smartwatches with Bluetooth calling priced at Rs 9,995.
In contrast, other brands offer entry-level variants of their expensive products with Bluetooth calling at relatively lower prices. Noise offers a smartwatch called Pulse Buzz, priced at Rs 4,999. boAt offers a smartwatch with Bluetooth calling at Rs 7,999.
Singh defines the category a little differently, going on to call them ‘wrist wearables’. According to him, there are four types of wrist wearables in the market right now - activity trackers (Mi Smart Band), smartwatches (Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch), basic digital watches (boAt Xtend, Noise ColorFit Pulse) and analog watches.
“Smartwatches, as a category, aren’t doing very well in India. They’re unnecessarily complicated and have a host of features that most people don’t even end up using. Basic digital watches, on the other hand, are doing much better in the market right now, since the brands offer some smartwatch features at activity tracker prices. This is why brands like boAt, Amazfit, Fire-Boltt, etc., are doing well in the market,” explains Singh.
Anshika Jain, a senior analyst at Counterpoint Technology, specialises in studying wearable tech and smartwatches. “While making a purchase, the customer will compare the features to make a decision. Loyalty doesn’t play a role in the decision. The look and feel of a watch play a role in customers selecting it.”
Singh adds that sales in the wearables category, as a whole, may increase - considering that these devices go through more wear and tear, and there are cases where TWS earphones stop working or one earphone goes missing.
Jain agrees, saying that these devices won’t be used on a long-term basis and will be seen by customers as easily replaceable.
“What sets Titan and Fastrack apart from the other Indian brands that already exist in this space, is retail presence. They already have brand salience. But this may make it more difficult for them to communicate to customers that they have smartwatches, not just analog watches. It may be finding it tough to position itself as a lifestyle brand,” Singh theorises.
Singh contends that some factors that have made Indian wearable brands overtake Fastrack in this segment, are the differences in pricing, easy availability on e-commerce platforms, product quality, etc.
Jain debates that the price point can be a deciding factor for a brand like Fastrack. Since Fastrack’s smartwatches are priced at Rs 6,000-9,000, it’s possible that a customer may opt for a branded watch, like a OnePlus smartwatch.
Maurya says the wearables segment has grown exponentially over the past few years, but argues that the popularity of wearables and smartwatches isn’t necessarily at the cost of analog watches.
Singh also adds that there are some people who still aren’t buying smartwatches or digital watches, and clinging on to their analog watches.
“The brands have designed products according to the features that the customers are looking for. The products are also priced at an accessible range. Brands like boAt and Fire-Boltt are focussing heavily on influencer marketing and word of mouth testimonials to push their products. There’s also a strong online push with partnerships with Flipkart and Amazon. This is how those brands are attempting to capture the consumers’ attention.”
Singh points out that in India right now, when it comes to smartphones, Chinese brands like Oppo and Vivo are dominant in the market. But when it comes to wearables and smartwatches, Indian brands like boAt, Fire-Boltt, Noise, etc., are stealing the show.
The biggest difference between these two segments is customer loyalty. Consumers in India are known to be loyal to smartphone brands, internalising the ownership to make it a part of their identity. But Jain says that’s not the case with digital smartwatches.