Franck Dardenne, General Manager, LVMH Watch & Jewellery India Private Limited, shares his take on the Indian luxury watch market and TAG Heuer’s plans for India with Manvi Sethi
What is the current market share of Tag Heuer in the luxury watch market?
Today, one luxury watch out of 10 is a TAG Heuer. Our goal is now to gain market share in India, to be ready the day India becomes a big watch market. TAG Heuer set up its Indian subsidiary in 2002 and, since that time, has maintained its leadership position. India is still a small market. It was the 26th market as per Swiss watch exports in 2013. TAG Heuer does much better but still, India is not yet in the top 15 markets for us. But we do go on investing so that the day the market grows, we get to obtain the dividends of steady investments and the high appeal we enjoy among Indian customers.
What’s your projection about the market five years down the line and how do you foresee your share?
It is difficult to answer to such a question since nobody knows how the market will evolve, when it becomes big, and how other brands will chalk out their investment plans.
But for sure, we want to maintain our leadership position. We will make sure that TAG Heuer is the first brand spoken about in the Indian press.
This year you will see how serious TAG Heuer is about the Indian market.
What has been the sales turnover for Tag Heuer in FY12-13 in India? What percentage of that is from mobiles, eyewear and other accessories?
We are not allowed to answer such questions as we are a listed company.
Our core business remains watches: this is our gene, our identity. Eyewear came as a brand extension because of our ability to manage micro precision technologies.
We are very happy to see how the red Avant-Garde eyewear has fared in the Indian market, after having been worn by Shah Rukh Khan. Being Avant-Garde, we decided to expand to mobile phones and now enjoy one of the top two positions among luxury phones.
Especially the Meridiist 2 has, since November, received a very warm welcome in India. Lifestyle accessories are special offerings, available only in our TAG Heuer boutiques.
How does Tag Heuer plan to capture the young people’s imagination? Are separate campaigns and product lines in the offing?
No, I do not think any young person would be happy to have some league B watches. In our case, our formula to be appealing to them has worked. We are perceived as a brand of dynamic people who are on their way up and who want to find a watch which embodies their success.
The Indian luxury market has remained very limited due to prohibitive taxes and duties. Are there indications that things may change?
Unfortunately, the signs we get are not very clear. Think for example the question of FDI. It may look encouraging but the condition of local sourcing can not be applied to Swiss-made watches. But in the long term, it is rational that custom duties are revised downwards. We will be able to invest what we pay now in duties. This will generate and sustain more jobs and will create a better retail environment.
Who are Tag Heuer’s principal competitors when it comes to the luxury watch and chronograph market in India?
We are primarily here to build the market. Fight against a competitor comes secondary. There is a lot more we need to do to educate the market. In chronographs, we are the absolute leaders and do not have much competition.
Indeed, TAG Heuer has been the undisputed pioneer of modern chronographs, from the invention of the oscillating pinion to the invention of the first automatic one in 1969.
For watches, we will expand our range, responding more to the demand of the customers than to outrun the competitor.
We strongly believe that the right road of success for TAG Heuer in India will be to remain ourselves, especially with the tremendous goodwill and brand value it enjoys in the Indian market.