Citizen Watches ups ad budget by 40 pc; sharpens its tech peg

Citizen Watches is bullish on strengthening its presence in India. The Japanese watch brand has increased its advertising budget by 40 per cent this year, which is expected to go up by 20-40 per cent in the next fiscal. Citizen has also fortified its bouquet in the country with two new collections and is unveiling its festive season campaign from today.

e4m by Sai Prasanna
Updated: Sep 27, 2011 10:40 AM
Citizen Watches ups ad budget by 40 pc; sharpens its tech peg

Citizen Watches is bullish on strengthening its presence in India. The Japanese watch brand has increased its advertising budget by 40 per cent this year, which is expected to go up by 20-40 per cent in the next fiscal. Citizen has also fortified its bouquet in the country with two new collections and is unveiling its festive season campaign from today.

Speaking to exchange4media, Aditya Sengupta, Assistant Manager (Marketing), Citizen Watch Company, divulged, “The year-on-year growth over the past five years has been steady at 10-15 per cent. But this fiscal, we are targeting a growth rate of 15-20 per cent. Although we saw a slowdown two years back, our growth was not severely affected by it and we were able to maintain a steady growth rate.”

Market dynamics
Of the Rs 4,000-4,400 crore watch industry, around 60 per cent falls in the organised category with 40 per cent making up the unorganised segment. In the organised sector, 70-80 per cent is captured by lower end watches (less than Rs 2,000-3,000) and a maximum of 20 per cent is occupied by the mid-, upper-mid, and luxury segments.

Citizen’s product concentration is mainly in the mid-segment (Rs 10,000-13,000), with some watches in the upper-mid segment (Rs 40,000 and above). They have more than 300 watches in the market currently, with the main focus being on the Rs 8,000-20,000 range. Sengupta informed, “We have a wide range starting from Rs 2,750 going up to Rs 1.75 lakh. We bring out close to 80-100 watches into the market every year. While Titan remains the leader in the mid-segment with a market share of 50-60 per cent, Citizen comes second at 8 per cent, closely followed by Tissot and Seiko.”

On expansion plans, he said that Citizen had 26-30 exclusive outlets and boutiques across the country with close to 500 retail points. Though the number of exclusive outlets would grow, the pace would be slower with more focus given to MBOs (multi-brand outlets) and national retail chains such as Lifestyle and Shoppers Stop. “Also, there are many organised players such as Ethos and Helios and our focus will also be shifted there. We are mainly present in the urban areas in Tier I cities. Over the last couple of years, we are increasing our presence in Tier II cities. The Indian market offers huge potential in the mid- to upper-mid segments. Many watch brands are moving into this particular bracket so there is a lot of competition in this particular segment,” he remarked.

Region-wise, South remains Citizen’s biggest focus, especially the three big cities – Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. This is followed by the West with Mumbai and Pune. Then comes the North with Delhi and Chandigarh, and to some extent, Lucknow and Jaipur, followed by the East. Kolkata remains the main market in the East since the other markets are still growing. The watch brand is also eyeing markets such as Orissa and Patna in this region, given their growth potential.

Citizen is looking at a sales growth of 15-20 per cent this fiscal, whereas the industry standard is 12-15 per cent. The sales volume has gone up by 12-15 per cent over last year. Mumbai figures first on the list in terms of largest volume of sales at 12 per cent, followed by Delhi (9 per cent), and Bangalore, Kolkata, and Chennai notching up 7-8 per cent. The Japanese watchmaker expects to capture a 15-20 per cent market share over the next five years in the mid- as well as the upper-mid segments. “The market size itself is going to increase as the mid-segment possesses immense potential. The first two quarters have been a little slow due to high inflation and hikes in interest rates. But going forward, the disposable income of the urban Indian is going to rise, hence the mid-segment is also going to increase,” Sengupta maintained.

The festive push

Meanwhile, to tap into the festive season sales, Citizen is launching its festive season campaign from September 27, 2011. In collaboration with their creative agency Hakuhodo Percept (Chennai), Citizen has come out with an artwork that will be released in print media. The scheme, titled ‘Move around with the Times’, is on till November 6. Customers who buy any Eco-Drive watch will get a genuine leather travel kit free. This offer is also valid on the purchase of any Citizen watch over Rs 7,000.

It may be recalled that Lintas Media Group (Bangalore) had bagged the media duties for Citizen in February 2011. Elaborating on the work done by the agency since then, Soumit Deb, Planning Director, Lintas Media Group (Bangalore), said, “The brand salience of Citizen got a boost amongst the younger audiences through a combination of mass and digital media involving television, print, OOH, and digital. The first campaign was launched on World Environment Day (WED) in June. We used television in a different way with an innovative approach. Vignettes were created alongside channel partners to deliver cut-through communication. Digital channels were selected to reach the core target group (25-45 years), which was predominantly on the media.”

Citizen’s mantra: Technology with beauty
While the Swiss have promoted their heritage, Citizen has promoted their watches based on their technology. They pioneered the Eco-Drive technology, and more recently, the Super Titanium and Satellite Wave technology. They also came up with radio-controlled watches, which correct the date and time with the aid of radio wave signals from radio transmitters located in Europe, the US, China, and Japan. Citizen is currently working on a transparent dial with Eco-Drive technology. It was put down as a concept a couple of years ago and is in the research phase.

As Sengupta explained, “We have moved on to the next phase in technology with the metal dial and will be looking at greater advancement in this segment also. Citizen’s main focus has always been continuous development in technology and this is our strong point over our competitors. The Super Titanium watch took 2-3 years to perfect. Around 5-6 years ago, research began on the Satellite Wave. From a minimum of two years, it can go up to a maximum of 10-15 years.”

Citizen is also upbeat about its two new collections launched this month – Super Titanium and Satellite Wave. Speaking at the launch event in Mumbai on September 14, Katsusuke Tokura, MD, Citizen Watches, said, “Our watches received international accolades at Baselworld 2011. Globally, we continue to bring in new models with our focus on environment-friendly technologies. Eco-Drive remains our flagship technology. There is no single watch brand anywhere in the world similar to Eco-Drive, which has chosen the green path.”

Priced at Rs 1.75 lakh, the Citizen Appleseed XIII Eco-Drive Satellite Watch or the ‘Satellite Wave’ is a limited edition watch with just 10 watches set aside for India. This concept watch is the first in the world to actually be calibrated according to satellites orbiting around the Earth. The Super Titanium collection has 15 watches in the price range of Rs 17,000-25,000. Sengupta elaborated, “Super Titanium is the new material used for the watch. Its main USP is the ion-plating technology, pioneered by Citizen. This makes Titanium five times harder and 40 per cent lighter than stainless steel watches. Titanium watches have been around since the 70s, but they were brittle, available only in black and easily developed scratches. Ion plating has rendered it stronger, with no skin irritations that usually occur with metal-strap watches. These watches also come with Sapphire glass, which is highly scratch-resistant.”

For the recently-launched Super Titanium range, with the campaign tagline adopted is ‘Innovation, powered by Willpower’, while the media mix includes TV (30 per cent) and print (70 per cent). The TVC and print ads have been released in Mumbai, Delhi and NCR, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, and Kochi. The international TVC of the Super Titanium watch has been on air from September 1, 2011. The TV campaign will run till October-November. Meanwhile, the print campaign for Super Titanium, which began in August, will continue up till December-January. For the Satellite Wave, only earned media was used due to the uniqueness of the watch. The other campaign that Citizen had come out with earlier this year was on World Environment Day – focusing on Eco-Drive’s association with clean and green energy.

Four years back, Citizen had roped in Kareena Kapoor and Rahul Dravid as brand ambassadors for their ladies’ and men’s watch ranges. Commenting on the advertising activities, Sengupta said, “Kareena was gaining popularity then and Dravid was at the peak of his form, so we were able to utilise this quite effectively through TVCs. Later on, since we were focusing on print ads, we didn’t have any brand ambassador. Two years back, we witnessed the slowdown which affected our ad budgets and we were not able to come out with many activities that we had planned for. This time, we got Pankaj Advani to launch our new collections since he is sophisticated and a thorough gentleman. We chose him because he resembles our image in the market. Through this, we were able to relate to our target audience of urban Indians in the 25+ age group easily. In our present campaign, we have advertised on TV, in newspapers and magazines. The total ad spends earmarked for this fiscal is Rs 25 crore. The ad spend has been Rs 6-10 crore for this campaign, which will run till the end of this year.”

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