Jan 6, 2009

Mktg - Q&A Mktg Head Fastrack;Titan

It’s very difficult to create and maintain loyalty as loyalty in our target audience is a very different construct. There is absolutely no reason for them to come back to Fastrack tomorrow if they have bought a watch today, and if something else has caught their fancy. There is so much of pressure on that pocket money – be it tech product or fashion accessory – as the market is flooded with those. Unless each brand is reinventing product or communication constantly, there is no reason for youth to come back to the brand. So, the challenge is much higher as compared to the older age groups.
Simeran Bhasin, Marketing Head, Fastrack & New Brands

Simeran Bhasin enjoys watching her ideas come to life, and as Marketing Head of Fastrack & New Brands, one can be assured that it’s constant refreshing of new ideas that’s making the company chart its success.

Fastrack, the brand which was re-launched a few years back targeting youth, has become a fashion accessory which boasts of being effortlessly cool. Bhasin played a key role in putting the brand on the growth trajectory.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Tuhina Anand, Bhasin talks at length about rebuilding Brand Fastrack.

Q. Please give us a background on the brand Fastrack.

A. Timex had entered the Indian market through a joint venture with Titan and that was our offering for the youth market. When that JV broke off in 1997 and Timex went independent, there was a gap in our portfolio and it only made sense to fill that need through our offering. Fastrack was launched as a range of watchwa under Titan and called Titan Fastrack. Subsequently, it grew from a range to a sub-brand, where Titan was upfront in the logo and the association was strong. In everything we did, including advertising, we used the jazzy version of the Mozart tune, which is Titan’s signature tune. So, the link with Titan was very strong. When we launched, we targeted predominantly the early jobber 23-30 year-old male executive. It was only a year or two later that we launched a line for women.

Q. So, how did things change and why was the brand re-launched?

A. We took off and did well and then started stagnating in 2001-2003, and that’s when we decided to do a reality check. Titan had simultaneously launched the steel collection, which was an attempt to contemporise for a Titan audience. But what was happening was the collection in terms of looks, price point and consumer buying behaviour was very similar to Fastrack, including advertising. The parent brand needed to continue in their endeavour to keep it contemporary. We were simultaneously hearing in the market of the huge population of sub-25 and we said why don’t we move and reposition Fastrack to a younger audience and create a reason for our offering in the youth brand. We went into a rejig, which lasted a little over two years, where we looked at a core audience of collegegoers between 18 and 22 years and then extended audience of 15-25.

Q. Please elaborate on your re-launch.

We conducted research, where we shared products and communication and realised that our price points were really high for our TG. We are targeting someone who gets pocket money, which is a nebulous term in India. Some get it, some don’t. Some get it as maintenance money, while some don’t get it, but get everything they want. Our average price, which was about Rs 1,700-Rs 1,800 was just too high for that TG. Also, the product we had was not cutting ice with the younger audience because they were now seeing the Esprits and Swatches of the world, which had come at a higher price point but were creating desire for a very different fashion look. Then there were Chinese models priced at sub-500 and very affordable.

We realised that there was a big gap between this sub-500 and Rs 3,000, which is where the fashion brands started. That’s where we decided to peg ourselves, but we consciously kept 75 per cent of our collection at sub-1500 as no one was present there and it was big opportunity. We had to design watches that were funkier and keep it in line what the fashion brands were creating an aspiration for. We undertook a design overhaul and put in place a design exercise and got around 100 new designs. We decided to re-launch with this collection and drop all the old collections.

Q. How did you handle the re-jigging of Fastrack’s brand identity?

A. The youth had changed over a couple of years, and based on research, we wanted to create a new identity for this TG, which had playful irrelevance as the core of the brand. Based on this, new communication was created where we changed our logo as we said that if we need to have a different identity, we need to launch it as an independent identity separate from Titan the brand. The old identity was strongly linked to Titan.

Q. Did it also have to do with the fact that people knew Fastrack as a brand from Titan, hence you could risk going independent?

Awareness of Fastrack was very low and was linked to Titan. There was no independent identity. Research had also shown that the fact that it had the backing of Titan was a positive assurance. However, kids didn’t like to be serious and sober like their parents. We needed to break away, so we changed the logo to bring in a youthful, spontaneous, energetic and fun identity, but removed Titan from the upfront association in the logo. We, however, kept it at the bottom, saying it’s a Titan product. This helped carry the assurance of the trusted Titan brand. We stopped using the Mozart tune in advertising as we didn’t want any strong upfront.

We launched with new products, a new identity, new advertising and a new logo in June 2005. The year took off so well that we ran out of stock very quickly and we ended the year with a 150 per cent growth and the demand was growing continuously. Next year, we took another 100 per cent growth.

Simultaneously, when Fastrack launched in its new avatar, we launched the first brand extension – eye gear. We signed up John Abraham as the brand ambassador and that too took off with the same price point and similar persona. John was the ambassador as we felt a relatively lesser known category like eye gear in India needed a face to make the category relevant and bring it into peoples’ consideration. The penetration of sunglasses in India is 5 per cent. The size of the market could be around Rs 500 crore. We have discovered that sunglasses are a different ballgame as it’s an upfront fashion accessory. Based on our research, we had got the response that people felt sunglasses were only for celebrities, rock stars and people in the fashion industry.

Q. Do you think a communication could address the issue of hesitance and help people to feel more comfortable wearing sunglasses?

We have been toying around with this idea and in ‘Johnny don’t cry’ ad, we didn’t talk about fashion but function, which said if you wear sunglasses on a bike, you won’t have tears as sunglasses would protect you from dust. However, we are a fashion and a fun brand, so we can’t get so serious to talk about protection, which we did in one ad. We have chosen to talk back about fashion and looks for the Fastrack brand. Otherwise, we will have a split personality as watches don’t talk about functionality, but all the fun stuff.

We needed to drive more synergies and move towards a common communication. Across the world, too, fashion brands have a common theme of communication across categories. The brand should have the same look and not look like two brands when out in the market. If you have to drive synergies, then you must have one look, one tone, one voice and a single message going out. Perhaps, if sunglasses contributed to 80 per cent of the market, then the call would be different, but the fact remains that we are a watch brand to begin with and watches are and for quite sometime to come would be our mother category. When we do on ground activity, we do eye gear trials to induce people and that’s when we talk function. But when using mass media, we will talk the same language across categories.

Q. Do you think after the re-branding, Fastrack is on the right track?

A. Sunglasses and watches had been growing 100 per cent for the first 2-3 years after the re-launch. Last year, we took in growth of 50 per cent after three years of growing at 100 per cent. When we started the re-launch, Fastrack the brand was worth about Rs 29 crore and we have grown almost ten times of that over the last three years. I think the decisions we have taken have proved that we have been in the right direction. Today, the brand is present in over 3,000 outlets in the country and continuing to grow strong. Fastrack is actually among the few brands where people come asking for the brand. We have adopted a fashion based strategy, where we launch about 3-4 collections in a year in both categories. From this year, for greater synergies we have worked on a common theme for both categories and product. Collection-based strategy has helped us very well. We have consumers today who are so fanatic about the brand that they buy a watch from every single collection.

Q. Tell us about your foray into the digital medium and experiments with social media.

The involvement of the Fastrack consumer in the brand is very high. To cash in on that, over one and a half years back, we embarked on the digital media. In this day and age, where social media is growing, it’s an anathema for a youth brand to not have its own website. We got in place our website and a couple of months ago we embarked on using social media as a means to engage with our consumers. Social networking sites are a completely different ballgame, where you can’t intrude and do banner advertising. We use that media to essentially watch, learn and observe and listen to what consumers are saying and participate without intruding.

Communities are a big thing where consumers start on their own based on their interests. On Orkut, we realised that even before we started our websites consumers had established 15-20 communities of Fastrack. They had members joining and growing month on month. Today, on Orkut we have over 50 communities started by consumers who are fans of Fastrack watches and sunglasses. On Facebook, we have taken a slightly different act as it’s a far more niche social networking site. We started our own communities – ‘Life on the Fastrack’ and ‘Bikers on the Fastrack’. We have started a brand page where we put up whatever is happening on the brand – new campaigns, new forums or anything that Fastrack wants to discuss. We keep in touch with communities started by other users to let them know that if they want authentic information, they don’t have to go searching online, but they can get it from us and get first hand information.

Recently, we started a process wherein before launching a collection we take feedback from a panel of consumers online by sending a questionnaire and product pictures. We do this with people who are members of one or more of our communities. It’s quite a pleasure to get these frank opinions, because compared to traditional research, online is a very casual medium as compared to the traditional.

Q. Is it difficult to create a loyal customer in the TG that you are targeting?

It’s very difficult to create and maintain loyalty as loyalty in our target audience is a very different construct. There is absolutely no reason for them to come back to Fastrack tomorrow if they have bought a watch today, and if something else has caught their fancy. There is so much of pressure on that pocket money – be it tech product or fashion accessory – as the market is flooded with those. Unless each brand is reinventing product or communication constantly, there is no reason for youth to come back to the brand. So, the challenge is much higher as compared to the older age groups.

We have been fortunate so far, and I say so far, because if we have a loyal base, it may not be true one month down the line. We recently conducted a customer satisfaction study and found that our base of loyal customers is much higher than the benchmarks we have seen in some of the other brands. We are proud to say that our loyal consumer base suggests that 91 per cent would recommend Fastrack, 85 per cent would themselves buy the brand, which is high as compared to other watch and youth brands.

Q. What do you think are the attributes that helped the brand click and connect in the market?

A. I think it has been twin approach of constantly innovating on product design, yet being affordable, and to reach out to consumers in a language that connects. We launched with ‘how many you have’, which is a grammatically incorrect statement spoken in a colloquial manner. It’s not your typical fashion brand talking down saying you must look cool and you must look like me. With our advertising, we were able to relate to the youth in a setting they were familiar with.

Q. Why did Fastrack change its tagline to ‘Move on’ recently?

We had embarked on an exercise a year ago with Santosh Desai, where the brief to him was that we have two categories, and in future as fashion brands we want to extend to more categories. At that point of time, we had different advertising and were not on the same theme. We were uncomfortable with continuing with that as we felt the need to synergise and bring the category together.

‘How many you have’ worked well for watches, but not as strongly for sunglasses. It would have not worked for sunglasses as penetration is only 5 per cent. Based on that, we worked with Santosh saying we need a platform that works for all our brands across accessory categories and bring synergies between categories.

We also looked at the brand identity and whether any change was required for that, as a result we refined our brand identity as research showed it needed a bit of tweaking and sharper focus in terms of its interpretation. From playful irreverence we moved to playful disruption. The core remained effortlessly cool as we want to project to the consumer unpredictability, friendly flirtatiousness and disruption.

‘Move on’ is not very different from ‘how many you have’ as the tagline came from multiplicity – the consumer truth being that youth get bored of the same thing and category truth being that you can’t be happy with just one. ‘Move on’ is multiplicity from a different level and came from the fact that youth preferred to be uncommitted in these few years that we were targeting. It’s only at a later stage that one starts firming decisions, be it career or marriage. The change was to pre-empt ourselves, so while ‘how many you have’ worked very well for us, we needed to change ourselves before the market told us to do so. If preference to remain uncommitted is the truth of the consumer, Fastrack must speak the same language, hence ‘Move on’ to keep trying new things.


Anonymous said...

Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back
to your weblog? My blog is in the exact same area of
interest as yours and my users would truly
benefit from some of the information you provide here.
Please let me know if this alright with you. Thanks a lot!

Feel free to surf to my webpage: www.cure-premature-ejaculation-now.com

Anonymous said...

Today, I went to the beach front with my children. I found a sea
shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I
had to tell someone!

Here is my webpage - best way to last longer in bed for men

Anonymous said...

This piece of writing gives clear idea for the new viewers of blogging,
that really how to do blogging and site-building.

My webpage how to delay your own ejaculation

Anonymous said...

Attractive part of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to assert that I get in fact loved account
your blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing for your feeds
and even I success you get right of entry to constantly

my website premature ejaculation cream

Anonymous said...

An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was conducting a little research on this.
And he actually bought me breakfast simply because I discovered it for him.
.. lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!
! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this subject here on your site.

Feel free to visit my site :: premature ejaculation cures video

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

I'm planning to start my own website soon but I'm a little
lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like Wordpress or go
for a paid option? There are so many options out
there that I'm completely confused .. Any suggestions? Many thanks!

Feel free to visit my weblog: http://www.silivrenstudios.com/

Anonymous said...

Hi, I do believe this is an excellent website. I stumbledupon it ;) I
will come back yet again since i have book-marked it. Money
and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue
to guide others.

Look into my page easy methods to end uncontrolled climaxes

Anonymous said...

We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme
in our community. Your site provided us with helpful information to work on.
You've done a formidable job and our whole group will likely be grateful to you.

Also visit my blog post ... last longer in bed tricks

Anonymous said...

Hey there would you mind sharing which blog platform you're using? I'm planning to start my own blog in the
near future but I'm having a tough time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for something completely unique.
P.S Apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

my page - last longer In bed Pills cvs

Anonymous said...

Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the issues.
It was definitely informative. Your website is extremely helpful.
Thank you for sharing!

My webpage - http://www.tilojavideo.com/blogs/250968/1536016/the-right-way-to-delay-ones-clim

Anonymous said...

ブランドコピーhttp://www.brandshop9.com 専門店です。弊社にはブランドコピーバッグ、ブランドコピー時計、ブランドコピー財布、ブランドコピー服、ブランドコピーベルト等沢山のスパーブランドコピーが揃えっています。是非ご覧ください。
HOME: http://www.brandshop9.com

Anonymous said...

I'm not capable of see this web site correctly on my cellphone :(

Feel free to visit my website - having trouble getting pregnant with second baby

Anonymous said...

I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.
I'll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I'm quite sure I will learn a
lot of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

my webpage :: ways to stop premature ejaculation instantly

Anonymous said...

Hey! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would be okay. I'm absolutely
enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

Review my web site; The Right Way To Last Longer While Having Sex