Why Japanese watch brands should tap Indian market

Often when we talk of ‘lifestyle’ in different parts of the world – including India – we end up restricting ourselves to European and western luxury brands. There is not an iota of doubt, that there is a growing demand for the same, and in the changing economic order India happens to be an important market for western luxury brands – be it watches, garments, handbags and shoes. At the same time, the middle and upper middle class is an important segment amongst Indian consumers. They make not necessarily make big ticket purchases – and instead invest that money elsewhere — they are interested in high quality products at affordable prices.

Here it would be pertinent to point out, that in recent times there is a strong trend of Japanese brands related to clothing, household accessories having become more popular in the Indian market. In one of Delhi’s top shopping malls — Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj – Miniso(a Japanese brand known for affordable and high quality household accessories)   and Uniqlo (a famous Japanese ‘fast fashion’ retail brand) are located right next to each other. Brands like Uniqlo, Asics (a Japanese sportswear brand) along with home appliance stores like Miniso and Muji have been doing well outside the metropolitan cities as well.

 There is no doubt, that Japanese cars, gadgets and even watches (Seiko, Citizen) have been popular for very long due to their reputation in terms of quality, but the arrival of the ‘Grand Seiko’ series has made Japanese watches popular, even amongst consumers who for long preferred other luxury watch brands (both Seiko and citizen are affordable, have a stellar reputation in terms of not just technology and workmanship, but also design). Seeing the increasing success of Japanese watch brands mentioned above, there is scope for others too. For instance for anyone willing to spend in excess of $20,000, Naoya Hida could be a preferred choice.

Then there are brands like Minase (which has a wide range of options) and Kurono. For those wanting high quality watches in lesser prices, Kuoe based in Kyoto is an attractive option. Japanese watch makers in recent years have also got a better understanding of the global watch market and while focusing on technology, they have tried to come up with options which are no less in terms of aesthetics and finish – vis-à-vis their western counterparts. Given that the Indian consumer, including those interested in watches, are always looking at new alternatives the above watch brands have immense potential. Apart from this, Japanese watch makers which are yet to make their foray into India in a big way should focus on tier-2 and tier 3 cities given the immense economic potential and the willingness of consumers to spend. Some of the Japanese watch brands could do especially well in the North-East, where there is a growing middle class and an interest in East Asian products.

In conclusion, while Japanese brands have become popular in recent years with the Indian consumer, there is still immense potential for tapping the Indian market. Some of the Japanese watch brands, in addition to Seiko and Citizen, discussed earlier have immense potential. It is important for these brands to enter the Indian market since their designs and technology would be of interest to watch lovers in India. Many of the Japanese watch brands combine high quality with affordability unlike some of the western brands.

Tridivesh Singh Maini
Tridivesh Singh Maini
Tridivesh Singh Maini is a New Delhi based Policy Analyst associated with The Jindal School of International Affairs, OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India