Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Omega : The Choice

Brand : Omega
Company : SMH

Brand Analysis Count : 354

Omega is a leader in the Rs 600 crore luxury watch market in India. The brand which is an aspirational brand has a long history dating back to 1848. The brand had its origin in Switzerland in 1848 when a young man named Louis Brandt started assembling high precision watches.

But it was in 1894 that Omega as a brand was created. The brand and the company went through lot of turmoils through these periods. In 1930 during the depression, the company merged with other watch makers to form SSIH. The merger was to withstand the economic turmoil at that time.

In 1980 , the brand again went in to financial crisis. SSIH then merged with another watchmaker ASUAG to form ASUAG-SSIH. Now ASUAG-SSIH is owned by a private group and the company has been renamed as SMH. SMH owns some of the iconic watch brands like Tissot, Swatch , Longines and Rado.

Omega has been very active in the Indian market for the last four years. The brand was present in the country through imports but now with the government allowing single brand retail formats for foreign brands , Omega is in full swing to tap the Indian market.

Indian market is a unique market for the watch category. I was surprised to find that the penetration of watches among Indians is abysmally low. According to reports the penetration is only 27 %. That means only 27% of Indians own a watch. The total watch industry is around Rs 2500 crores in terms of value.

The market is broadly divided into low, mass market , premium and luxury segments. 85% of the market is for watches below Rs 500.

Although the bulk of the market is at the bottom of the pyramid, the top the line watch market is growing at a rate of 25 - 30 % . Most of the growth is attributed to the economic growth witnessed by India. With new jobs and profiles taking Indians to new heights of luxury, accessories like watches gain importance in the shopping list.

Its in this context that Omega began its aggressive campaigns in India. Now most of the business and lifestyle magazine have atleast one Omega print advertisement.

Omega's marketing practice is heavily depended on Celebrity endorsements. Its a brand that has successfully used celebrities to create differentiation. Its celebrity endorsers contain the who is who of the world. Some of the celebrity who has endorsed Omega are
Cindy Crawford
George Clooney
Michelle Wie
Michael Schumacher
Nicole Kidman
Ellen Macarther
Ian Thorpe
Michael Phelps
Eugene Cernan and
our very own Abhishek Bachchan

But the most celebrated and famous brand ambassador for Omega is James Bond. I think its the first brand that has a brand ambassador in a movie character rather than the actor. Bond has been wearing Omega watches since 1995 with the movie Golden Eye. The association has been strong and Omega celebrates the launch of the Bond movies through events and special editions. In the latest Bond movie , Daniel Craig wears an Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600m Co-axial Chronometer with a black dial.

These brand ambassadors give a special touch of luxury to the brand. But Omega is not dependant on any of these brand ambassadors and has a personality of its own. Omega is a classic case of a brand using celebrities to its advantage.

Along with the ads, the brand is also active in connecting to the customers through events. Like any other luxury brands, Omega also sponsors sports events because sports form an important part of lifestyle.

Omega was successful because of the secondary association of its country of origin ( Switzerland). The brand has its strength in quality, brand and its heritage. What has made this brand aspirational is the consistent campaigns with a common theme. The brand is positioned as the preferred choice or the rich and famous.

Omega has a distinct advantage derived out of its heritage and strong brand equity. Since Indian consumers are well connected with the world outside, the brand's campaigns using international iconic stars works well with Indian consumers. The brand has also added a touch of local flavor by adding Abhishek Bachchan to the list.