A timekeeping device to a timeless device: The ever-evolving journey of India’s wristwatch market

India’s wristwatch market has been growing at a double-digit compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the last five years and is likely to grow at a double-digit CAGR over the next few years. The country’s wristwatch segment is spoken about in the same breath as the traditionally strong markets of the US and China today. While watches continue to serve functionalists who are still using them for telling time, for a significant consumer segment, they have graduated to a fashion accessory that adds a dash of style to their overall style statement and complements their mood.

A growing economy, rising disposable income, and an omnichannel approach

India is in the top 5 economies in the world and is slated to be in the top 3 economies in years to come. Steadily rising average disposable income and consumerism are helping build momentum in the watch industry. The growth is not merely coming from Tier 1 cities but is extending across Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Consumers are willing to spend more and upgrade to the next price band for more complicated movements, premium materials, and innovative designs.

Watch companies are also changing the way they serve consumers now. From multi-brand outlets (MBOs) to vertical specialist MBOs and online marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, and Tata Cliq have helped enhance the consumer shopping experience. Both consumers and brands have adopted an omnichannel approach, where research typically begins online. Hence, websites carry a complete product catalogue, independent reviews, and a live chat assistant for specific queries. Purchases may close online or end with a visit to a physical store, but today’s consumers are much more informed versus relying on retailers’ know-how to help them choose the right product. I also believe that consumers’ post-purchase journey will continue to play a vital role as the category becomes high involvement, especially in the premium category.

Widening consumer base and newer jobs to be done

While the category is evolving in terms of usage, we are also seeing new trends regarding target consumers. Traditionally, watches have been a very critical accessory for men. But the female watch category is coming up in a big way too. The watch has become an important part of the female wardrobe. Gone are the days when women had to struggle to find the right watch. Brands are now offering much wider assortments and designs for women. A collection like Timex’s Fria is a classic example that caters to the special occasion dressing needs of females.

Deepak Chhabra,
Managing Director,
Timex India

Smartwatches are also another innovation that is redefining the category. We have seen a significant rise in the consumption of smartwatches post-COVID. While few are using smartwatches as an extension of their phones, a few are using them for health parameter tracking like steps or SpO2, and a few are using them for athletic goal tracking. In addition to that, owning multiple watches for different occasions is another upcoming key trend.

The premium segment is driving the growth.

As per a Bain and Company report, India’s luxury market is expected to grow to 3.5 times its current size and reach the US$200 billion mark by 2030. Higher internet penetration is increasing both awareness and affinity towards branded goods, which is among the key factors driving this growth. We are seeing strong signs of premiumization in the category as well. The effect of the same is evident in how vertical specialist MBOs are changing the game for the watch industry.

I expect further changes in the consumption trends for the category. You must be seeing the new trend of wearing two watches, another great example of an ever-changing consumption pattern. As a part of Timex, which has been a disruptor for nearly 170 years globally, I feel optimistic regarding sustainable growth opportunities for the category. Let the excitement unfold!

(This article is authored by Deepak Chhabra, MD, Timex India)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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