Swatch bets on brand recognition

Swatch bets on brand recognition

Swatch Group Trading (Thailand) Ltd, the distributor of Swatch watches, will continue to expand its business in Thailand this year because of higher consumer spending and the growing tourism industry.

Seri Souvanna Phouma displays new models of Swatch.

With the economies in Asia, the US and some European countries recovering, the company is optimistic about the Thai economic outlook this year, said Seri Souvanna Phouma, brand manager for Swatch.

He expects the local watch market will grow at a double-digit rate this year, compared with single-digit growth last year.

Moreover, the middle class in Asia is growing and Thailand is one of top tourist destinations in this region for this group. The Tourism Authority of Thailand forecast the number of foreign tourist arrivals to Thailand will reach 34 million this year, up from 32.6 million last year.

With these positive factors, Swatch expects its sales in Thailand to rise by 50% this year.

"Our watch sales grew 50% last year, the highest in five years, and the momentum will continue this year," Mr Seri said.

The sharp growth came from various business strategies it initiated last year. The company renovated several Swatch shops in main tourist destinations and opened six new Swatch shops in major provinces.

He said Swatch was not affected much by the economic slowdown because of its affordable watch prices of between 1,600 to 8,000 baht. Sales grew briskly in the first three quarters last year because of a rise in foreign tourists from India, China, Myanmar, Vietnam and Singapore, said Mr Seri.

As more Chinese tourists visit Thailand, the gap between sales of Swatch Group (Thailand) and Swatch Group (Singapore) narrows.

"As more Chinese tourists visit Thailand, the gap between sales of Swatch Group (Thailand) and Swatch Group (Singapore) narrows. It is possible sales in Thailand could surpass Singapore in the near future," he said.

Mr Seri said the brand has huge opportunities to expand in Thailand because its brand awareness in the country is in the top 10. With the company's plans, it expects Swatch's brand awareness to rise to the top five within the next couple of years.

To help achieve its goal, the company opened its first pop-up Swatch store on the first floor of Siam Paragon mall last week.

The company's marketing budget to promote its watches in 2017 will double from 2016.

In addition, Swatch plans to launch 15-16 new collections in the market. It also plans to expand its business for the first time into the Northeast this year.

"Continuing investment by major retailers in the Northeast indicates there is enough spending power there," Mr Seri said.

The company will open two big Swatch shops and six shop-in-shop outlets this year, requiring 30 million baht in investment.

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