Indian Watchmaker Titan Making 
a Big Foray into Premium Market

DUBAI — India-based Titan Industries Limited, the world’s fifth largest watchmaker, is making a big foray into the premium-priced watch market, in a bid to diversify its consumer base in the Middle East and Africa.

By Rocel Felix

Published: Sun 20 Dec 2009, 10:46 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 3:48 AM

The watchmaker which crossed the $1 billion mark in terms of sales this year, will be aggressively mounting a campaign to push sales of its higher-priced watches, Bhaskar Bhat, managing director of Titan Industries, told Khaleej Times.

“We have started moving up the price point, premium migration is a very big thrust for the company, but we have tested the market this year, and we have determined that there is definitely a market in this region.” Despite the economic downturn in the broader Middle East, sales in some countries in the GCC like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman, have been quite strong in 2009, enough to offset the decline in the UAE which was its biggest market in the previous year.

In 2010, Titan hopes to make a dent in the higher-end market, an entirely new ballgame for the watchmaker whose products, are very popular with the mass market, and where it has built its billion-dollar business.

“The entire effort is to move Titan up the price ladder, and we are confident we can get ahead with the quality of our products, our design and modern retailing,” said Bhat, who was careful about distinguishing Titan higher-priced watches from the Swiss upscale or luxury watch brands like Rolex or Omega. “We are not targeting luxury consumers that go for those brands. We have studied the market, and we realised that spending in the region, especially in Dubai, comes easily. People here buy watches on impulse, and spending Dh400 to Dh500 for a watch is not a such a big deal if they like the design and the brand. That is the kind of market we are cashing in on.”

The strong brand recall of Titan in the Middle East and Africa that has made its watches popular in these regions, not just with the Indian population, but with other nationalities as well—will make it easier for the company to pitch its new collection of higher-priced watches, said Bhat. “Even in the downturn, we know we will be able to sell because of the multiple markets we are in.”

Bhat said Titan will intensify marketing efforts, utilising its existing network, as well as opening up in areas where its target consumers shop, like the bigger and more upscale malls.

At the same time, Titan is also confident that it will maintain its foothold in the GCC markets in the mid-price sector. While 2009 proved to be a difficult year, especially in the UAE, the watch company is forecasting a gradual return to its strong 30 per cent annual sales growth which it had enjoyed in the last four years prior to this year’s economic crisis.

“In 2010, we are projecting a growth of 10 to 15 per cent, and in 2011, we will have a more solid growth of 20 to 30 per cent,” said Bhat.

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