Watch brand Tag Heuer has extended its product line to glasses, wallets, jackets and other accessories but without diluting its brand equity.

The legacy branding of Tag Heuer – combined with its age-old focus on technology perfection – has helped LVMH (overseeing the Tag Heuer brand) clock an astonishing 40% growth in India. Manishi Sanwal, who has been steering Tag Heur’s phenomenal success in India and who like in the previous year has made it to 4Ps B&M’s ‘Hall of Fame’ this year as well, talks about the brand’s marketing strategies.

Over the last two years, Tag has forayed into new segments. Won’t such brand extensions dilute your brand-equity as a watch brand?
Even though Tag Heuer has forayed into several new segments, we have made sure that the promotion and marketing strategy for all these new products match the brand-legacy of Tag Heuer. Besides, what also enhances Tag Heuer’s brand equity is the fact that all our products are only available at Tag Heuer showrooms and this ensures that there is no dilution of our brand equity.

One of your notable brand extensions has been your uber-swanky cell phone. But many feel that it arrived too late in the day considering that Nokia had already introduced Vertu many years ago?
Our positioning is different from Vertu. And within a year of launching our cell phone, it is now available in all the metros and we are also providing appropriate after sales services. If we wanted, we could have had more retail penetration but we didn’t want to go where there was difficulty in setting up after sales services.
You have worked in China and other countries for Tag Heuer What differences do you see in the Chinese market vis-à-vis the Indian market?
I have worked in several markets for Tag Heuer, including China and in my experience the perils of over-extension of a brand cannot be overstated. But given all that we are quite upbeat about introducing more products and jewellery under the Tag Heuer brand name in India. Tag Heuer also stands for excellence in technology and sport and in all our brand extensions we will resort to such common USPs. I think brand extension is more widely accepted in the Indian market as compared to China.

What has been the biggest challenge for you as a marketer of a luxury brand?
I think cities like Mumbai, Delhi and several metros in India are becoming more international and closer to global trends. So our customers are demanding international services. For instance, if a product launch is slated to take place in London, our customers in India demand that it should simultaneously happen in Delhi & Mumbai. But at times we cannot offer the same class of facilities here that we can offer in places like London. Like Formula 1 racing car event is going to happen in this country and we have some promotional plans coinciding with the event, but we can not do it the way we do it in Europe.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2011.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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