Interview: CK Venkataraman, MD, Titan Company

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September 03, 2021 6:58 AM

‘Customers now prefer trusted jewellery brands

Titan Company has several segments and categories, and each has its unique omnichannel strategy, considering the customer profile and buying processes.Titan Company has several segments and categories, and each has its unique omnichannel strategy, considering the customer profile and buying processes.

From watches and wearables to apparel and eyewear — Titan Company’s product portfolio stretches across categories and price points. CK Venkataraman talks to Sheena Sachdeva about the opportunity in the online value-based category, betting big on the premium watches portfolio, and working towards faster digital adoption.

Titan recently launched a sub-brand, Epic by Sonata, in partnership with Flipkart. Will the online value-based category be your focus going ahead?

The online value-based segment in India is growing. Sonata is appropriately placed to cater to the demands of the value segment. Besides, as a company, Titan operates across segments — from the Titan Edge Mechanical priced at Rs 2 lakh to Epic by Sonata at the lowest price of Rs 499. With the shift in shopping behaviour, people are looking for quality products and are willing to buy them from anywhere.

In pre-pandemic times, consumers always looked for brick-and-mortar stores nearby. However, the presence of e-marketplaces across pin codes has removed this barrier. We believe the partnership with Flipkart will help us understand this opportunity better and then build on it.

What are some of the omnichannel initiatives you have implemented since the pandemic?

Titan Company has several segments and categories, and each has its unique omnichannel strategy, considering the customer profile and buying processes. CaratLane and Titan use multiple technologies to enable customers to shop in new ways. Sales through video calls have received much traction, especially for Tanishq. Further, the try-at-home feature is a success for CaratLane. In terms of digital adoption, these new-age ways of selling have taken the company two to three years ahead of the industry.

Having said that, our eyecare business is quite complicated because it includes eye testing and choice of lenses, which is complex from the selling point of view. Then, we have the Fastrack brand which is youth-oriented, but with a low ticket size. Thus, the need to touch and feel the product, and the availability of a range of items to attract customers, etc, impact the strategies.

In its recent quarterly report, Titan has stated that the number of people buying jewellery has reached the pre-pandemic level. How do you plan to drive this growth further?

In India, buying gold is seen as an investment, and has substantial value. Last year, due to the uncertainty during the lockdown period, people felt anxious, which led to growth in jewellery shopping. This made people feel secure. Also, international travel was non-existent, and weddings were not celebrated with the usual pomp and pageantry. Hence, the money saved was diverted to buy more jewellery. This benefitted the overall jewellery industry.

Further, local competitors faced challenging times, both in terms of supply chain and operational financial constraints. Since June 2020, all our brands, Tanishq, CaratLane, Mia by Tanishq and Zoya, have been doing exceedingly well because customers now prefer trusted brands. The credit for growth in new customers could be attributed to CaratLane, which has been growing organically since the pandemic.

Titan added Anne Klein Considered to its international product portfolio last year. How much is the premium segment contributing to the overall business?

The opportunity in premium products is quite huge, especially for the licensed brand franchise portfolio of Titan Company within the watches division. Both Anne Klein and Helios, our premium watch ranges, have done well since the pandemic. Titan Edge Mechanical, launched in February 2021, has received good feedback.

Further, India is becoming more affluent; young people want to own premium labels. Titan Company enables this through its retailing strategies. However, in terms of contribution to the overall company, the business from the international premium product portfolios is significantly low; but its contribution to the overall watch division is meaningful.

How do you see your fragrances and ethnic wear segments panning out in the coming months?

We aspire to make Taneira a distinguished brand in the ethnic wear segment, like we did with Tanishq in the jewellery segment. However, the challenge for Taneira is its small customer base; the recovery for Taniera is not like other established businesses of Titan. But the opportunity for Taneira, Skinn and other brands in the fragrance business is quite huge. We are optimistic that these brands will reach their rightful place in the overall portfolio of Titan Company in the next five years.

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