Citizen Watches, among Japan's top watchmakers, believes endorsements by show biz personas and sports stars make the brand tick. The watch brand is all set to roll out a new ad campaign featuring a top Indian cricketer.
Refusing to divulge any details, Mr Hideaki Nakazaki, Managing Director, told Business Line that the company has pencilled in a "top cricketer to endorse the brand."
The new campaign is likely to break in a couple of months. "We are in the final stages of signing the pact with the cricketer," he said.
Mr Nakazaki is very bullish about India operations. "We are very successful here. We find our going very smooth now."
Citizen signed on Bollywood star Kareena Kapoor as its first brand ambassador in the country last year. According to the Managing Director, the Kapoor factor is ticking very well for the company. Subsequent to the endorsement, the company launched a special collection of watches named after the actress.
Citizen Watches (India) is a joint venture between Citizen Watches, Japan and Doshi Time Industries. In mid-2003, the Japanese parent raised its stake to 95 per cent from 51 per cent in the joint venture. The global brand has manufacturing facilities in Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Mexico and Germany. "As we find it very difficult to get good quality material here, we decided not to set up a manufacturing facility in India. The watches we sell here are directly imported from Japan," said Mr Nakazaki.
The company also plans to expand its reach in major cities by setting up more exclusive showrooms called First Citizen. At present, it has 27 showrooms in the country. "Four more are in the pipeline, to be opened by the end of the month or early next month. We hope to take the total to 60 in three years' time."
Citizen also plans to expand its presence in multi-brand outlets from the current 300 to 1,000 across the country during the period.
Last year, the company's turnover topped $15 million. "We are probably the only global brand in India to have watches across all price segments. We have watches from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2 lakh. So we are very confident of taking the turnover to $20 million this year comfortably," Mr Nakazaki said.
The company hopes to increase the turnover by 50 per cent next year. At present, the company's market share in India is 15 per cent in the mid-priced segment. It recently launched a new range of handcrafted watches for men called Campanola Collection.
The company has earmarked Rs 15 crore for the current year's advertising. Hakuhodo Percept, a joint venture between Hakuhodo of Japan and Percept Advertising, handles the brand's advertising.