EAAA Awards; Lowe Helps Titan Stand Out In Crowded Watch Market

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When Titan Industries decided to launch its upscale watches across six European markets during the pre-holiday season in 1995, it faced an overcrowded and status-obsessed market.

Europe's highly fragmented watch market wasn't exactly awaiting a new watch, least of all from India. And Titan had only a meager $2.5 million ad budget for a rollout in Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Spain.

Titan Industries belongs to the 100-year-old Tata Group, India's largest industrial and business conglomerate with annual turnover of $5.5 billion. Its watches are the fruit of this major Indian industrial group: technology from India and Japan; precision mechanisms from Switzerland and Germany; and design from France and Switzerland.

Launched in India in 1987, Titan's line of 400 watches represents about 60% of the market for the quartz analog watches there. The broad product range includes quality stainless steel and gold from $75 to $750, and two-year warranties instead of the standard one-year guarantee. A Middle East launch in 1992 met with a doubling of sales there each year, thereby triggering interest in Europe.

AESTHETIC, EMOTIONAL APPEAL

With the Lowe Group, London, Titan sought a universally appropriate message that would emphasize the product's unique features and quality; create long-term brand equity; and inject a brand awareness that transcends price. Entering such a status-conscious market without a heritage to tout, Titan had to appeal to the target market in both an aesthetic and emotional manner.

The ad team decided to target an upscale clientele of affluent males and females over 25 who are apt to try new things. The made-in-India feature was incorporated into the strategy by extending the target to culturally sensitive individuals. Faced with a limited budget during a crowded period of advertising, the strategists chose TV as the principal medium, since it would inflate the perceived size of the campaign. The same print ad would be used across six markets, and would complement TV usage in Denmark, France, Norway and Spain.

Settling on a highly visual treatment, the ad likened beautiful multicultural women to Titan watches, with the slogan, "No one country could have made faces this beautiful." The ad features a watch face next to one of an exotic female model, identifying the country of origin of each, and announces the arrival of "Titan, the new world watch."

According to Tom Holmes, international account manager of the Lowe Group, "We researched the ad idea in Germany and France, two major launch markets with different cultures. Our findings proved that we had something of which to be proud."

Besides reaching consumers, the campaign helped persuade jewelers to stock the watches. Distribution reached 735, nearly double that of early projections.

AHEAD OF THE GAME

A survey by Capibus Omnibus conducted in February showed Titan brand awareness surpassed that of certain classic watch companies. In Spain, brand awareness reached 47%, 13% in the Netherlands and 11% in France. With an average sales transaction of $185 rather than the projected $150, sales volume surpassed plans by 16% and consumer sales were ahead 100%, according to recent data.

"We spent little on advertising and achieved enormous success, so we'll continue with the umbrella campaign," he said. A new tactical print campaign focusing on individual watches will break for the 1996 holiday season. In 1997, Titan plans to launch a new campaign, emphasizing the international integration unique to the company.

As for new products, the company will focus on its fine jewelry collection and has constructed a plant for gold jewelry set with gems in India. However, a launch date for the overseas fine jewelry market is not finalized.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Titan plans to extend its watch brand to the U.K., Belgium, Austria and Israel by the end of October, and to have a presence in 1,000 quality retail outlets in 10 European markets. More launches in Europe and the U.S. are slated for 1997. Titan also plans to introduce other fine jewelry products and launch a multimedia campaign next year.

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