During his first-ever visit to India, Storyboard 18 caught up with Adrian Bosshard, global CEO, Rado Watch Co, and spoke to him about the growth of the luxury watch market in India, expansion to tier II-III markets in the country, the impact of the increasing popularity of smartwatches on the brand, and much more.
Q. How do you feel travelling after so many months? The borders have finally opened up…
India is a key market, but due to the pandemic, we were not able to travel. But now, we really enjoy being in this important country, feeling the market here, seeing the people, and meeting our retailers.
Q. After the pandemic, what does the luxury market in India look like?
When the stores were closed, the end consumers didn’t have many opportunities to purchase watches; they had to rely only on digital channels. The luxury industry as a whole, and not just the watch industry, was impacted. However, as soon as stores opened again, business came back stronger than before. ForQ4 2021 was even stronger than the last quarter before the pandemic.
Q. Was this the case for the Indian market or globally?
In India, specifically, but also two-thirds of the countries where Rado is operating, performed better in Q4 2021 over Q4 in 2019. That means, the desire to buy beautiful watches, to give someone premium Rado watches, was never lost. As soon as the stores were open again, it (demand) was back more than ever.
Q. What are the key trends when it comes to the purchase of luxury watches in India? How do they compare with the global trends?
What I am observing is that the Indian taste is more in line with the global taste. 10 years ago, Indians were a little less dissolute than today. India is now a part of the global village of the world. This means, thanks to social media and digitalisation, the customer is totally informed about global trends.
Today, an Indian customer is also following global trends. The global trend is to purchase something strong, reliable, and with value. The customer today is buying less, but when he is buying, he is buying value. That means he is not buying cheap things. This is the trend we see with both old and young customers. For a brand like Rado, we offer real value. The real Swiss watchmaking, quality premium product in terms of scratch resistance, and so on.
Q. At a time when consumers are looking for value, how are you upping your technologies or innovations to meet the demands of the consumers of today?
Never rest. Always be happy with achievements but never be satisfied. Our ambition is always to improve, to innovate. Our design engineers are thinking about what more they can offer to our end consumers. That means, we are totally in the service of our end consumers. We were the pioneers in the past, we are pioneers today, and we will be pioneers in the future—to generate trends, to be innovative in offering additional value of comfort, precision, and beautiful design, and to inspire watch lovers worldwide.
Q. How has the increasing popularity of smartwatches and the Apple Watch impacted premium Swiss watch brands such as Rado?
You have a smartwatch on your wrist. But, I am convinced that one day you will see the difference between a real Swiss watch and a smartwatch—the spirit of a brand like Rado, the technology, the artwork, and the passion behind it. A smartwatch is an instrument. This is not a competition. It is an instrument and, in two years, the technology will be obsolete.
But Rado is a watch for life. You can keep a smartwatch for sports and other activities but for special moments with your family, to go out in the evening, a real Swiss Watch is like artwork with passion and competence behind it. We believe that one day, younger consumers will see the value in traditional strong brands like Rado that offer value for life.
Q. And how are you making this consumer see value in investing in a watch such as Rado? What is the strategy there?
First of all, do good things and talk about them. Our watchmakers are working in factories in Switzerland. Then we have to transport their hard work and strong message to other markets. In India, we have a very strong sales and marketing team—capable of transferring this message to the retailers and the salespeople. We also use traditional and digital channels for the end consumer. We also have a big community of fans and our ambassadors. Hrithik Roshan is a great ambassador with whom we have associated for 10 years now. He is also a very important person to communicate the value of Rado to worldwide customers—especially the Indian consumer.
Q. What are the future plans for India? Which areas will you invest in in the coming months? What are your Growth plans and opportunities?
We will open more boutiques to bring in the full assortment of products and the message of the brand in our stores. We will not increase general doors, but the quality of distribution will definitely increase. And most importantly, we see opportunities not just in tier I cities but also in tier II and tier III cities because today, they too have young customers with good education who would like to be inspired by the Rado products.
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