Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fastrack : How many you have ?

Brand : Fastrack
Company : Titan
Agency : Lowe Lintas

Brand Analysis Count : 320

Two years back when I wrote about Titan watches, I had mentioned Fastrack brand as a sub-brand of Titan. Now this sub-brand has grown to become a fully independent brand. Fastrack was launched in 1998. The brand was aimed at the youth segment (15-25). The brand was promoted with the slogan "Cool Watches from Titan "

Essentially Fastrack was a sub-brand endorsed by the Titan Brand. In most of the campaigns , the brand was promoted as Titan Fastrack. The brand was targeting young consumers who was moving towards the competitor Timex. It was during this time that Timex and Titan parted ways.

Fastrack had a good start . during the first year, the brand clocked a turnover of Rs 15 crore. The good run continued till 2001-2002 and the brand was worth Rs 25 crore at that period. But the sales stagnated. Although the brand appealed to the youngsters, price was significant dampener.The brand found that the target group which consisted of college students could not afford this brand. ( source : Business Standard)

During 2003-04, the brand went in for a repositioning exercise targeting executive segment aswellas casual watch segment. It was a suicidal experiment . The brand sales came down to Rs 23 crore. The change in positioning did not fit well with the brand. The consumers were not willing to pay Rs 1200-2700 for a watch that did not have the executive image.

It was in 2004 that Fastrack launched its range of sunglasses. The move was made after a consumer research which shoed that mobiles/deo/sports shoes and sunglasses are popular accessories in the purchase list of youngsters. And Sunglasses fitted perfectly as a brand extension for Fastrack. In my personal view, sunglasses offered a great opportunity for the brand. There was no Indian brand of sunglasses at that time. The brands available was Ray-Ban and other foreign brands which were imported. These brands was damn expensive and often consumers chose local unbranded sunglasses.

In 2005, the brand went for another repositioning exercise with a new logo and new positioning. The brand adopted the famous break-away positioning of Swatch. The brand decided to target the youngsters again but for that the brand had to break the price barrier.
The brand discarded the steely look of the watches and looked at a mix of plastic and steel. It was a perfect cut-copy from the strategy adopted by Swatch . By doing so, the brand was able to reduce the price range to Rs 500.

The brand then took the help of advertising to change the perception of watches as a functional tool to a fashion accessory. The brand launched a campaign with the slogan " How many you have ".

The campaign , the positioning and the price was a great hit . The brand sales zoomed to Rs 35 crore. The sunglasses also contributed significantly to this sales boost.
Fastrack have adopted the following core brand values

Fashionable and trendy
Affordable Pricing
Fresh Communication to attract the young consumers. The brand wanted to be the ultimate fashion accessory for the youth.

For the sunglasses, the brand roped in the youth icon John Abraham as the brand ambassador. The celebrity fitted well with the brand. Taking a cue from the fact that most of the TG for Fastrack owned a bike, Fastrack launched a biker's collection which again is a classic example of consumer-centric product innovation.
The latest innovation is the neon - disc range of Fastrack watches that does not have Hands to show the time but have electroluminescent disc that lits up to show the time.

Another advantage for this brand is the freshness that the agency had bought in its communication. Most of the Fastrack ads has been refreshing. The brand had adopted a 360 degree approach in its communication and it is an example of a brand which had used Social media to its advantage.
Watch some of the Fastrack campaigns here : Fastrack

But the brand is facing a grave issue in the market. The issue is not regarding the branding but with the channels. In the case of Swatch, the brand had adopted an innovative approach towards the channels. According to the Harvard Case Study on Swatch, it is mentioned that Swatch launched a Veggie range of watches ( it had shapes of vegetables ) and this range was sold in vegetable shops.
But in the case of Fastrack, the brand had not gained the support of the channel members.The channel does not support both sunglasses and watches. The above observation is from my personal experience. In the case of watches, except for Titan exclusive showrooms, other watch retailers does not stock the full range of Fastrack watches and neither they offer spares like straps. I went to replace the strap of my Fastrack but had to be satisfied with one which was local made and that does not fit with the design. The retailer to whom I went was a premium dealer of watches and he said that the reason for not stocking Fastrack is that the design changes very fast.
For Fastrack sunglasses, the retailers are the usual opticians. I found ( in my city) that either these retailers does not stock the sunglasses or are not interested in selling . The reason they say is that Titan is trying to sell the sunglasses in stores other than opticians. Hence opticians are not interested in selling this brand. The fact is that 90 % of Sunglasses sales happen with Opticians.

Fastrack had tried to explore new channel for its sunglasses range. I have seen a couple of lifestyle stores displaying the range. But when I wanted to buy a specific model, I did not find that in any of the store. I had to go to the online store and buy the glass.
No brand can escape the channel conflict when it tries to explore a new channel . In the case of Fastrack, it is facing resistance from the conventional channel when the brand tried to explore new channel.


It is a nightmare for any brand manager to handle the issues connected with a brand like Fastrack. One one hand, the brand have to keep the consumer interest growing by launching new models and also updating cool communication . One the other hand, the frequent design changes calls for intense dealer support . The low price for the watches often translates to low margin to retailers thus dampening their enthusiasm for promoting this brand. The brand is trying to workaround this issue through its online store but the fact is that online cannot replace the conventional channel atleast in the immediate future.

Despite these issues, the brand has been a hit with young consumers. I noticed this brand in the wrist of most of my students . Once I asked a question to my students whether Fastrack watches are 'cheap ' ?To my surprise, none of the students think that Fastrack is cheap despite its ' cheap ' price. They corrected me that Fastrack is affordable and not cheap. That is a great achievement for a brand which has a price range which starts with Rs 500 but still is not considered cheap. The brand had successfully established itself as a fashion accessory rather than as a watch. My personal experience as a consumer for both watch and sunglasses is positive. The brand has not compromised on quality.

The brand need to sort the distribution strategy to move into the next level. Swatch also faced the issue of retailer resistance initially but the equity generated by the brand eclipsed the resistance. Fastrack also should be able to build the brand into a level where retailers have to stock this brand due to consumer pressure.

2 comments:

  1. Uday Shelly11:31 AM

    Changing the brand slogan from " Cool Watches from Titan " to " How many you have" is a perfect example of Cross sell/Up sell which is sucessful.

    Also denotes, Fastrack's strategy from customer acquisition to retention, hence increasing profitability manifold.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Parag Raheja12:56 AM

    "How many you have" also signifies efforts of the brand to position it as a fashion accessory and not a watch. That is also a reason why fastrack is not considered cheap. A fashion accessory @ Rs 500 is certainly not cheap :)

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