Titan should end the year with a 23% top-line growth & a healthy bottom-line: Bhaskar Bhat
Bhat, MD, Titan Company Limited in a free-wheeling chat talks about the growth of the brand, serving the aspiring Indian and looks back at his over three-decade stint at Titan
A true marketer at heart, Bhaskar Bhat, MD, Titan Company Limited, has a penchant for visiting crowded shops to just observe and delve into the consumers mind. Humble is one word that most people use when it comes to describe Bhat, who took over the steering wheel at Titan Company Limited over 16 years ago, and is the person who is credited for building the company Titan, as we know it today.
exchange4media caught up with Bhat at the flagship store of Titan’s youngest brand, Taneira and in a free-wheeling chat he talks about the growth of Titan, serving the aspiring Indian and also looks back at his over three-decade stint at Titan.
How has the year been for Titan?
The year has been good. After the setback in jewellery in the first quarter, we have had a good second quarter and the third quarter has been exceptionally good. The nine-month performance, we have had exceptionally good growth, top-line as well as the bottom-line. We should end the year with a 22-23% top-line growth and a very healthy bottom-line.
Looking ahead, what can we expect from Titan?
You can expect great products, great innovation, more importantly good growth because we see our products serving the aspiring Indian in very unique ways. Therefore, our plan that our turnover will cross over Rs 50,000 crore and touch 50 million customers by 2023.
You’ve been a Titan Lifer, how do you look back at the journey?
The company is over 30-year old and the journey of the company has been very exciting. We started with watches and then expanded to jewellery, then eyewear and now to Indian ethnic wear, i.e. sarees. Continuous exploration has been one of the characteristics of Titan. The employees in the company have liked that spirit of exploration and increasingly the company has become entrepreneurial in its approach and innovative. It is not just the businesses, even within the businesses we have many brands and segments that we cater to and many different formats of retail outlets, so it’s a very unique kind of company.
Titan is well known for its CSR efforts. Do you believe that your CSR efforts should be publicised and used in brand building?
No I don’t. In fact, I believe in the exact opposite which is that serving society, an important Tata value, has to be independent of profits. We have been doing this since the company’s inception. For example, we don’t see the ‘karigar parks’ effort by Tanishq as a CSR effort, it is the only right thing to do as far as making of jewellery is concerned. We see CSR specifically as a corporate initiative. The choices we make on which communities to serve and how to do it, is based on what we are passionate about and this typically comes out of what you are familiar with. Our focus area has been the under-privileged girl child and this comes out of our understanding of the Indian women and the women we serve. Similarly, the skill building program has come from the youth. Even ‘Design: Impact Awards for Social Change by Titan’ was launched for encouraging innovators across the country to come up with social innovation projects, that positively impact society and which have been prototyped. Design is another skillset. We have chosen areas where we can make a difference because of our competence and knowledge rather than choose something which we are unfamiliar with as then you are not able to add value. I see it only as a corporate effort and nothing to do with the brand. If people discover what we have done and we are seen as a good company and therefore a good company to buy products from, that is desirable, but that is not an objective.
Any learning which you have implemented through your life?
There is no one thing, but many things. Organisations must constantly keep exploring, which means what you did yesterday can become irrelevant tomorrow. You have to be constantly changing, and not change just for the sake of change but change for the sake of servicing your customer or serving your employee. What we all believe, whether my successor or predecessor or my colleagues, is that you may have assets in the form of stores, factories, machines, technologies, but to put that asset to great use and to serve your customer, you need people.
What would you say about the team at Titan?
We have people who are very talented and committed but the most important part is that we believe in the one big philosophy which is unconditional positive regard for people and we treat people uniquely.
What are the three key methods of building brand trust?
The fundamental one in Titan, which gets lost most of the time, is product quality. We rarely realise that the brand comes after you have made a good product, so product quality is absolutely essential. Equally important is product design for us and the third is the buying experience. I am not counting advertising yet, that comes after the buying experience. The moment of truth finally is in the store when the person deals with you. These three factors build trust.
A marketing trend to watch out for?
A marketing trend to watch out for really is silvers, which is the 45+ target audience who have more money, are more profitable and more loyal and therefore less expensive to serve than the millennial. That is a very attractive segment.
An achievement which you are proud of?
I am most proud of Titians, the people at Titan because they have built this company. I am most proud when I walk around the office and see everybody’s commitment to make Titan greater and that we could create an organisation like that. We always talk about it that we should not just be a business or a company, we should be an institution. I think Titan is well on its way to becoming an institution where people don’t transact with an institution, people belong to it. So, you are independently working towards making the institution great.
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