28 January 2016 15:50:06 IST

Wear your attitude!

Titan’s constant innovation shows that no company, not even a market leader, can rest on earlier successes

I am a watch marketer’s dream customer! I admire watches, covet them and often buy them. I am also often gifted watches, all of which explains why I own an indecent number of them. In 1987, my wife gave me a lovely Titan watch for our fifth wedding anniversary. 1992 was our tenth and another exquisite Titan watch was received. For our fifteenth wedding anniversary in 1997, the (same) wife gifted me another interesting Titan watch.

I have always maintained that wives are amazingly creative, in gifting at least! But I must mention that over the years watches suddenly seem less exciting than the iPhone and that perhaps best explains the challenges facing Titan watches, the market leader by far, which has the onerous task of expanding the market.

The challenge seems to be that many people seem to view watches as utilitarian time keeping devices and not as fashion accessories as Titan would like us to believe. They would like customers to mix and match watches with their clothes and that’s the objective of this commercial featuring Aamir Khan in his Mangal Pandey look .

Of course, they were preaching to the choir in my case, as I believed in this dictum, followed it and even evangelised it. But, in today’s mobile-dependent world, many young students of mine ask: “Why wear a watch Sir, I have a mobile that shows me the time “.

Fashion you can wear

Rather than carrying technology through a mobile device, Titan asks you to wear it fashionably on your wrist. It is a watch in the true sense of the word and does not look like a gadget, though Titan has tied up with HP for this smart watch JUXT.

Titan’s research suggests that while a gadget may have multiple features, consumers use only a few of them regularly and extensively. People constantly get incoming calls, mail and social media notifications, even if they are in a meeting, and that constantly disturbs the others in the meeting. If you’re wearing the JUXT, though, only the wearer will know that he or she has received a notification.

The other pain point that all smartphone users complain about is the fact that they have to charge their devices daily. The Titan smart-watch has been designed to remain charged for five days and, with smart handling, the battery could last up to seven days, even as it shows the world time with the customer choosing the geographies he might be interested in.

Keep moving

Today’s youngsters seem to be aware of the need for fitness and activity, even if they don’t do too much about it. They compare notes on number of steps walked and seem to have gadgets like the Fitbit or apps on their phone and, on the rare days they do 10,000 steps, they seem to have celebratory binges!

Here are two interesting commercials on YouTube which talk about today’s youngsters who often creatively showcase their laziness and seem to forget their dates with friends the moment they see a pretty girl! In line with today’s media strategy when you are talking to youngsters, the focus is on YouTube and Twitter. The commercials speak the language of the young, tech-savvy, upwardly mobile professional who is the target audience for this communication .

Innovation, name of the game

The cornerstone of Titan’s management philosophy has been innovation. Quite simply, Titan changed the way the watch was made, it was looked at and the way it was sold. I know of some companies who do something truly innovative and then keep talking about it for the next twenty five years. Not so Titan. Look at the innovation calendar for Titan from the time of its launch in 1989.

The Titan innovation timeline

1989: Aqura , trendy range for the youth, colourful, smart and affordable plastic watches

1992: Raga , an ethnic range, for the sophisticated Indian woman

1993: Insignia , high-end watches, for exclusivity and status

1994: Psi 2000 , rugged, sporty, 200m water resistance, high precision, for the adventurous

1996: Dash , cute and colourful range for kids

1997: Sonata , affordable, good quality range for the budget conscious

1998: Fastrack , cool, trendy range for the young and young-at-heart

1999: Nebula , solid gold and diamond studded range of luxury watches

2002: Edge , the slimmest watch in the universe

2008: Octane, Diva, WWF and Zoop

And, yet, when Titan was being innovative, most of the excitement was happening in a different category — the mobile phone. Youngsters, especially, are obsessed with this category and keep showing off and sharing what is happening to the whole world. Watches as a category have steadily become less interesting and consequently of consumers have less of an involvement with them.

The Titan JUXT is an attempt to bridge this gap and get consumers interested again in watches that have all the important features of a smartphone. Will it be a success is the million-dollar question? But what it demonstrates once again is that no company, even if it is the market leader, can afford to sit back on its earlier successes or past innovations. It needs to keep upping the ante and that is precisely what Titan is doing.

Meanwhile I keep wondering who the lucky individual is who is going to gift me a Titan JUXT!

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