“The Seiko Brand will continue to position itself in India as a technology leader”

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Niladri Mazumder, Senior Vice President, Seiko Watch India Pvt Ltd

Niladri Mazumder, Senior Vice President, Seiko Watch India Pvt Ltd

The global watch brand Seiko announced its partnership with world famous Tennis player Novak Djokovic recently. Known for perfection in watchmaking, this was a move by the brand to reiterate its desire to be the best. Rashi Bisaria of Pitch caught up with Niladri Mazumder, Senior Vice President, Seiko Watch India Pvt Ltd, to understand the brand’s philosophy and its strategy for the coming year.

What are the brand attributes that are common to Seiko and Novak which led to this partnership?
We choose to believe that Seiko is, today, a real leader in watchmaking. We invented the quartz watch in 1969, we invented the Kinetic watch in 1988 and just two years ago we invented Astron GPS Solar-The only watch in the world that identifies all 39 time zones using the GPS technology. In summary, we strive for perfection in watchmaking. ‘We always have and we always will’.

In Novak, we see someone who shares our desire to be the best and who is determined to maintain his status as a leader. Like Seiko, Novak is dedicated to perfection. And like Novak, Seiko is determined to be ‘one step ahead of the rest’.

Novak’s 2014 watch collection (yet to be released) highlights another aspect of the partnership that is important for both Novak and Seiko. We both share a passion for the preservation of our environment. Astron uses just the power of light, the Sportura chronograph is powered by a mercury free battery that Seiko makes itself and the Divers and Premier watches are powered by Seiko’s unique ‘no battery change’ technology.

Thanks to SEIKO’s leadership in green watch making, Novak’s love of and respect for, the natural world is reflected in his watch collection.

Which global market is Seiko as a brand most popular in and why?
SEIKO is a truly global brand and we are not reliant on any one market for success. In Japan SEIKO is the most popular brand after USA, Europe, India and South East Asia to name a few countries.

How is Seiko doing in India considering that it is available on e-commerce sites also? Do you think there is a market for such brands in India?
Seiko has come a very long way since we launched the brand in India in 2007. We are currently one of the top 3 Brands in the Premium segment of the Indian Watch Market. We retail Seiko from more than 350+ of the best stores in the country. In the last 3 years, our CAGR as a Company has been over 50 per cent, which is an enviable achievement. India is one of the top 4 priority markets for Seiko Watch Corporation, worldwide.

Currently SEIKO does not officially retail on the e-commerce sites, but yes there is a huge potential we see in the next few years on the internet business. We are working on a strategy and plan to be present in this segment as well, in the next couple of years.

What kind of marketing mix is Seiko planning over the next 3 years of this partnership?
Over the last 2 years, our Investment in India on the Marketing and other fronts has grown very significantly. We feel our association with India’s most popular sport and most watched tournament, through our partnership with the very popular Kolkata Knight Riders Team has helped raise our brand awareness significantly. We shall be continuing with this during 2014 as well. On the other hand, innovative media initiatives and effective below the line activities and trade schemes have also helped the growth story to a great extent.

We are perhaps the only serious International Watch Brand that has created an entire collection specifically for the Indian market i.e. Lord collection. The designing of this very successful collection over the last few years have been based on inputs solely from the Indian market and keeping in mind the specific needs of the Indian consumer. We are also looking at a Ladies collection in the near future which will be India-inspired.

What kind of benefits does a brand expect from a high profile partnership such as this?
A brand ambassador is someone who represents a brand and is the face of the company and its products; it embodies the company’s image in every way. Such associations largely help create perceptions and image of the Brand in the consumers mind.

We cannot help Novak win tennis matches, but we can help him manage time in every other aspect of his life.

What has been the positioning of the brand till date and is it looking to change this brand positioning or personality now?
India is already one of the key markets worldwide for any serious International watch brand. This is only going to get stronger as time goes by and the Indian economy continues to fulfill its potential. However, in India you cannot ‘cut paste’ the same strategies you follow in other countries. Any Brand which does that, I feel is heading for failure. India is a perfect example of ‘Think Global and act Local’ and that is the strategy we shall follow in India.

The Seiko Brand will continue its positioning in India as a technology leader that delivers a Brand of substance to the end consumer. We are currently active in the Premium / Affordable Luxury category of the Indian market and we shall continue to do so. However, Grand Seiko and Astron shall make a play, as it does world-wide, in the Luxury category of the Indian watch pyramid

Does Seiko retain its heritage in its products?
One Such example of Heritage in our Products is on the occasion of 100 years of watch making at Seiko last year. To mark this fantastic milestone, we introduced “The Kintaro Hattori Special Limited Edition Watch – Worlds First GPS Watch SEIKO Astron”. On the case back, we have inscribed our founders Motto “One Step ahead of the Rest” along with the original SEIKOSHA logo that was registered by Kintaro Hattori in 1900.

What sets this brand apart from other luxury watch brands?
We strongly focus on technology when compared to other watch brands. We have many worlds firsts in Watch making innovations to our credit which sets us apart within the industry. Seiko is determined to be ‘one step ahead of the rest’.

How big is Seiko’s presence in India? What is the distribution network like here?
We today have a very strong and a robust distribution network of 350+ Multibrand Premium Watch stores in the country. We also have 5 stand-alone Seiko Boutique stores in Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin and Kolkata and we plan to add another (5 Boutique) stores in the year 2014.

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