Kapil Kapoor is Global COO at Timex Group. Prior to joining the Timex Group India Ltd (TGIL) Board in January 2009 as Vice Chairman, he was Managing Director of Timex Group India Ltd (formerly known as Timex Watches Ltd) since 2000.
Kapoor began his career over 25 years ago with Nestle India Ltd and then moved on to Bausch & Lomb, where he was part of the start-up team that launched Ray Ban sunglasses and the Bausch & Lomb vision care range in India. He subsequently went on to manage the overseas marketing territories of Russia, Ukraine and East Africa, in addition to the SAARC region.
An MBA from IIM-Ahmedabad, Kapoor holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Delhi University. He is also an alumnus of the Ashridge Management School in the UK.
In conversation with exchange4media’s Preeti Hoon, Kapoor speaks about the lessons learnt from the global slowdown and how the economy is picking up after taking a beating for about two years.
The global recession had its impact in India and we saw many companies in India take cautionary steps during the recession. The year gone has seen recovery for the economy and most companies. In the wake of the recession, and the following recovery, there is a renaissance of sorts in the industry. From consumer behaviour to marketer’s approach to communication, much has been impacted. Would you agree with this?
Yes. From a pure GDP and macro economics point of view, I would tend to agree there has been a bit of a bounce back. Even at a global level, there has been a huge residual impact, because to a large extent in the West there has been a jobless recovery. So, while the stock markets have gone through a major resurgence, the corporate balance sheets have started looking much healthier, but the job markets haven’t picked up. The impact of the recession is still there. The outlook for the future has changed significantly as people are not really upbeat about the future overall. I’m talking of the global perspective here. So, people are not into frivolous expenditure like before and marketers are coming to recognise that people are into more considered purchases, they are willing to spend the money, but they want to see greater value and more enduring value.
Fad cycles, where people are willing to buy for a lock and moving on – all that has changed. Eventually, it may come back, who knows how it develops, but this is obviously the first year of recovery after the deep depression and complete fear that was in the market. So, it has had an impact on the way the consumer spends money. We have seen some fashion brands, that didn’t offer the same kind of enduring value, suffer. Certain luxury brands then offer great prestige value, value in different forms – it needn’t be lower cost or prices, but it could be in a way more enduring in giving impetuous gratification that consumers were looking for earlier. That, I believe, has been the most significant impact of the recession.
Could you take us through some of the changes that have happened in the communications industry with the consumer, on account of the economic conditions of the last two years? Are we better placed as an industry today?
It is very difficult to say whether the set of changes that we seeing in the industry are being caused by the recession or are being catalysed by the recession. I think one of the most significant changes we have seen is the greater use of social media, because the old traditional rule kit in terms of communicating with the consumer, in many parts of the western world at least, are no longer valid or effective. People have had tighter monies to work with, they are trying to work in a more efficient way and they are exploring how to influence the early adopters, working with Facebook and Twitter in a more effective way and being really able to harness those areas of social media to convince the consumer more effectively.
Retail as a sector was hit the most. Did the Timex Group also feel the impact? Would you say that you have now recovered from it, if there was an impact?
There was certainly an impact in the retail sector and it had a big shake-up, and yes, I think some of our luxury and fashion products in the higher segment got affected because people then gravitated towards the true watch brands and not so much towards fashion brands. On the other hand, brands such as Timex benefitted from it significantly because a lot of luxury retailers now needed a better value play. Stores like Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, or Selfridges in the UK, all of them now have brand Timex in their offering and that’s been a positive fallout for the brand because everyone has got a better value offering in their mix. As a group, we have been very resilient and we have had a good balance mainly on the account of the fact that have we have a great portfolio of brands.
Any other positives that came from the slowdown?
One of the big positives that come out of any slowdown is efficiency. In the period of luxury, where there is high growth in excess and wasteful expenditure, marketers are bent and compelled to be more efficient.
What would you say the year 2011 belongs to the Indian industry?
2011 is the start of a wonderful decade and a league for India. All the stars seem aligned at the moment. Be it at the macro-economic level, the strength of the Indian consumer, the overall consumer behaviour or the geo politics – all are geared towards suggesting that the Indian consumer and economy is going to make a difference and we should be seeing a rapid growth in the near future.
Where is a sector like retail, which in essence is a direct connect with consumer, headed in the New Year?
Organised retail will emerge in a bigger way and it is going to define a much higher level of more specified matrix, which will be more consumer driven, consumer off-take driven and less relationship based. At the same time, there’s going to be a lot of e-commerce opportunities, because rental cost in India tends to be very high and e-commerce gives an opportunity to dis-intermediate the retailer. And what is going to drive this is the brand’s focus on the consumer rather than the retailer. Pure marketing resonates with the consumer and grows your business with the consumer.
What can be expected from the Timex Group in 2011?
We will be focusing on a lot of emerging market economies. We are going to be defending our market share in North America and we will be bringing in new technologies and new products in 2011. Besides India being one of the key focus areas, emerging markets like China, Indonesia and Brazil will also be in focus.