Titan Eye Plus restyles the brand to take on newer, younger rivals

Once counted as the challenger brand in its category, Titan Eye Plus has come a full circle as it finds itself up against a new band of disruptors. While start-up labels such as Lenskart have upended customer expectations, online marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart and others dedicated to eyewear have overhauled the brand discovery process. To counter this, Titan’s eyewear division is increasing its online presence and adjusting the brand lens to project itself as a fashion accessories label as much as it is a purveyor of prescription eyewear.

Shalini Gupta marketing head, Eyewear, Titan Company said, “Consumers want to experiment with their looks and are always looking for ways to upgrade. When it comes to spending money, apparel and accessories become a natural pick, with multiple purchases a necessity. Prescription eyewear is still relegated to being a medical need and repeated purchase is not considered a necessity, but an expense.” 

However consumer perceptions are changing. In the past eyewear was bought annually or on the advice of an ophthalmologist. Now frequency of purchase has increased and customers want the spectacles they buy to define their look. This consumer insight has led Titan to position the brand around multiplicity of styles while keeping to the core promise of affordability. 

Among the early ones to catch the drift in customer perceptions was Lenskart. Born as an online brand that has now expanded its offline presence to 400 plus stores across the country, the company is part of the Future Brands portfolio and counts Ratan Tata as one of its big investors.  

Lenskart says that its brand adopted ‘playfulness’ and ‘addictiveness’ as the core platform and thereby, marked itself out from the rest in the market. Founder Peyush Bansal points out that from the start, there has been an emphasis on style and colour. The aim has been to project eyewear as a category that makes consumers look good and Lenskart’s campaigns established the brand as a fun accessory. 

This was the first step in the brand’s journey, Bansal says. The next is to make the product a fashion acquisition. And they have recently roped in Katrina Kaif as brand ambassador in an attempt to bring about this shift in positioning. 

Titan’s new campaign does not use celebrities but relies on humour to drive home the message. “The new TVC illustrates in a light-hearted manner the indecisiveness consumers face when their heart is set on a product, yet they fear they’d end up spending too much,” Gupta said. The ads promote the brand as an affordable fashion accessory that lends itself to the mood of the wearer and the occasion.

Positioning the brand thus helps expand its footprint by increasing the number of occasions for purchase. According to the Brand Footprint Report (2017) by Kantar Worldpanel, marketers look to increase the number of interactions between brand and consumer to increase brand penetration. This is what Titan Eye Plus is probably aiming for. 

Online brands such as Lenskart have benefited from such an approach. Also consumer studies highlight the changing behavior of the Indian consumer in categories such as clothes, accessories, footwear. While, prescription eyewear is still a medical need and its purchase is considered an expense, positioning it as a necessity-plus product or a fashion accessory helps change customer behavior and the way the category is perceived.

Such an approach is also an effective differentiation strategy; emphasising style, value, comfort and relevance helps separate Titan and Lenskart from discount-heavy local brands and opticians. It is also a sign of the market veering towards a more organised set of players where eyewear is chosen by its brand name and not just on the basis of price and prescription.

India’s eyewear segment, once a near stagnant market, has today been converted into one of the fastest growing retail sectors in the country. Titan Eye Plus, which claims around 10-12 per cent in the overall Rs 85 billion market and around 25 per cent of the organised market (around Rs 43 billion) said that the company is targeting around 20 per cent plus growth.

Lenskart is keen to step up the pace too. While it is pushing its offline expansion, Lenskart says it is also looking at ways to enhance customer experience. “Ease, engagement and experience are key for the company,’ said Bansal. The company says it is committed to making the purchase process easier and more interesting.

Titan is keen to build its omnichannel retail footprint and innovate with the range of eyewear on offer. Due to changing consumption patterns and the digital being a primary medium the company is also investing in digital marketing initiatives along with other ATL media, said Gupta. 

According to Gupta, around 70 per cent of their online customers are below 30 and its digital campaigns take note of this mix. Titan Eye Plus is also expanding its offline footprint by adding 30-40 stores this year to take the total up to 520 stores and believes that the online-offline synergy is beneficial for the customers, she said.


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