Having recently announced their latest collaboration with BMW following a year of “connected” GenNext releases, the Fossil Group is moving fast with their range of fashion forward mechanical and quartz timepieces. We got together with the Managing Director of Fossil Group, India, Johnson Verghese, for a quick tête-à-tête on the future of the group
Q: Considering the current downturn in the luxury watch industry, how has the Fossil Group performed over the last two years?
A: The Fossil group is faring pretty well, I would say. I think we have watches within a price point, ranging between Rs 6,000 and Rs 40,000, which works for our customers. The market today comprises of a lot of youngsters, who don't want to settle for just a functional device. They want to make a fashion statement and our collection of brands allows them to do just that. We aren't in the luxury category and we have never identified ourselves as one. We've always been completely fashion-oriented and that shows in our collections. That's what people identify us with. So, we've had a fairly good run in the last two years.
Q: Which of your brands have fared well in India?
A: Our biggest brand in India, and also one which fares well for us from a sales perspective, is Fossil, followed by Emporio Armani. But now our focus is on Armani Exchange. It would be our highlight for the Indian market this year onwards.
Q: Last year was all about the Connected GenNext pieces by the group. Will that remain a focus moving forward?
A: The market for Connected watches, if you see, was a huge focus of the watch industry last year, and now it has become an important as well as the fastest growing component of our business. In some brands, like Diesel, for example, it also dominates the business. The Diesel On Full Guard timepiece is very distinctive. It represents the DNA of the brand through its aesthetics, functions and features, and that's what the consumers have appreciated as well.
We also find that there is an audience who is more focused on the design and making of a timepiece. Which is why this year you'll be seeing our focus also extend to the mechanical side of the industry. We had introduced a few timepieces earlier this year, which are already trending well in India. You'll see around 17 more styles joining the global range now.
Q: What are the key trends you have noticed in the Indian consumer for the Fossil group?
A: When you consider it from a sales point of view, our ratio, particularly for Fossil watches, is half-and-half in the market. Our female audience in India tends to go for a more bold statement when it comes to a watch which is where their preference for 30mm pieces or above comes into play. When it comes to materials and colours, rose gold is one hue which we don't see fading out soon, especially in our Michael Kors range. Interestingly, it also accounts for 40 per cent of the market for Fossil, with silver making a close second.
You also see women becoming more expressive with their choices and experimenting with skeleton dials. This will reflect in our key focus segment as well. All in all, I think our clientele is becoming more confident about the watches they are buying and in making a statement. It's not just a purely functional device any more; it's also a fashion accessory, and if you get both these features from the same brand, then that works out well for both the parties, doesn't it?