Monday, February 22, 2010

Brand Update : Titan

Titan Industries has ventured into the prescription eyewear category with the brand Titan Eye+. The launch was pilot tested in 2007 and now is on the advanced stage of national roll out.The Indian prescription eyewear market is worth around Rs 1800 crore and is dominated by the unorganized sector.

Titan Industries is trying to corner a big pie in this huge untapped market. Titan Eye+ is currently running a campaign across the various channels,

Watch the TVC here : Titan Eye+

There is no question about the opportunity that Titan Industries is trying to tap. Organized eye wear market offers excellent potential for a company like Titan. There is a latent need in the consumers for a trust worthy branded outlet.

The question here is whether Titan Industries made a branding mistake in extending Titan brand into this product category. Does this brand extension augur well for the parent brand Titan or will it erode the intrinsic brand value of Titan ?.

I am always wary about brands extending themselves to unrelated categories. How ever large the potential may be, these brand extensions run the risk of diluting the brand value of their parent brand's equity.

Titan Industries had the opportunity to build a new brand in this category. It could have launched Eye+ as the standalone independent brand rather than launching Eye+ as a sub-brand of Titan.

The only one reason for launching Eye+ as a sub-brand of Titan is to gather the initial momentum in terms of acceptance . Eye+ wants to ride on the huge brand equity of Titan. And it will. As a consumer, I will naturally be tempted to opt for a Titan Eye+ showroom rather than a local store. So without spending huge amounts of money, Eye + will quickly gain acceptance in the market.

Another argument in favor of such brand extension is that over a period of time, the sub-brand will gain independence from the parent brand. Like the Fastrack brand which was launched as a sub-brand of Titan now has an independent status. So over a period of time Titan Eye+ will also be a standalone brand.

What about the parent Titan brand ?
Does this brand extension add value to the Titan watch brand ? Does it support the core positioning of Titan ?

Looking at the launch campaign, the ad is neutral in terms of the effect on the parent brand. The agency had tried to put in the " Jingle" of Original Titan brand in the Eye+ ad. The similarity ends there.

Eye+ is being positioned as a style enhancer .The brand follows the basic positioning that wearing Eye+ makes you attractive. Compared to the brand laddering of Titan ( Be More campaign) the positioning of Eye+ is nothing but very very basic. Eye+ has the tagline " Kuch To Hua Hai" meaning " Something (new) has happened to you".

This is the issue with brand extensions. What ever the ad agency do, the extensions seems to drift away from the core positioning of the parent brand. Titan with the endorsement of Aamir is perceived as a premium brand . Eye+ cannot afford to concentrate on the premium positioning as of now since it will repel many consumers and create a negative perception of " over- pricing".

Is it not a better option if Titan Industries launched Eye + as an standalone brand endorsed by Tata rather than Titan ? That would have given Eye+ lot of room for its promotional strategy. It could easily move across various price ranges. More than that , Eye + could afford to have its own positioning rather than being constrained by the parent brand. About the equity, endorsement by Tata could have been equally good in terms of bringing in consumers.

Eye + has lost a chance of creating a place for itself .The brand will have to move through a series of promotional experiments before gaining independence from Titan. With in the constraints of the parent brand, Eye + needs to prove itself successful in order to gain freedom.

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