Arun D’Silva, Director, Retail Interface Pvt Ltd, India Office for Frederique Constant Geneve details the brand positioning and market strategy of Frederique Constant collections in India.
When did Frederique Constant begin operations in India and how did the company evolve?
Frederique Constant was introduced to the Indian market by Retail Interface Pvt Ltd in mid 2010. Jayanti and myself were the only two resources available, so I managed the market expansion and brand building, while Jayanti took care of the imports, documentation and logistics. The roll out was slow initially as the brand was not known, but with perseverance and high degree of conviction, we could convince them to take the brand. It took approx 24 months for the brand to reach a critical mass and thereafter the acceptance was much higher.
What are some of the major marketing initiatives that were taken to grow the brand pan India?
The key to the entire success was to define the target audience. Internationally Frederique Constant sold using the ‘accessible luxury’ USP. This was possible since in those markets reference points for comparisons were in the premium and luxury space. However with a Titan watch available in India for 50CHF, the reference point for ‘accessible’ was hugely different. We therefore decided not to use the “accessible luxury’ pitch for India. Instead we leveraged the brands classical designs, elegant presentation and the fact that it was promoted by two young corporate professionals. This allowed us to position the brand as a watch for successful corporate professionals below Board of Director level.
With so many Swiss brands in the marketplace, how do Frederique Constant brands stand out?
Having decided the target audience, the focus was on strong communication and ensuring that the brand was seen as an aspirational brand for corporate professionals. This was also the reason to get associated with the sport of polo. In India a number of very prominent corporate houses and luxury brands sponsor the sport. Frederique Constant became the main sponsor of the Jodhpur Polo Season, and this resulted in huge visibility among the business leaders and film fraternity of Mumbai, since Jodhpur is considered the most elegant of the polo venues in the country. The entire campaign of Frederique Constant was filmed at the Umaid Bhawan Palace.
How would you best describe the Frederique watch collection?
The two phrases that come to mind to describe the Frederique Constant collections are “Classical elegance” and “Exquisite workmanship”. The watches from Frederique Constant are comparable with the most iconic brands from Switzerland for their design and manufacture, but yet are highly affordable.
At what price points are the watches available in the Indian market?
In India the brand retails for between INR 45,000/- to INR 4,50,000/-. The higher end of the brands collections are also available against pre-order. These are pieces in solid gold as well as the toubillon movements which are priced between INR 7L to INR 32L
How would you describe the Indian high end watch market and how do you rate your company prospects in this market?
We must understand that India is an emerging market. One needs to define ‘High end”. For watches upto INR 2L or so, the market still needs to mature. It is highly advertising driven since consumers have a low awareness of brands and options. The need to “keep up” with the social circle plays a huge role in buyer behaviour. So the more visible brand sells. However the discerning and knowledgable buyer is becoming visible in the market. These are people who travel, who read and who have an interest in understanding their purchase options. Frederique Constant has a huge opportunity in India to address this segment.
How important is India for the company as a market?
India has a buyer base of close to 500 million people. It is an extremely important market for any brand at any level in pricing hierarchy. It has a diverse cross section of buyers so it lends itself to fine slices of segmentation. It has a very educated population so it allows brand to use various means of communication. It is highly technology driven so brands have to continuously redefine their portfolios. India is a challenge and an enigma for brand managers.