'Not merely aesthetics, but answers to consumer needs': Revathi Kant explains Titan's design approach
Revathi Kant handled marketing functions for Titan Company Limited from 1995 to 2005, including working as the company's marketing head, looking after their operations for West Asia and Africa, based out of Dubai, before she took over as the head of Titan’s design studio in 2005.
In this interview, she speaks with Indulge about Titan's approach to design, the challenges of her new role, and the integral role of design in the making of Titan watches.
Can you tell us about Titan Company Limited’s approach to design?
The Design philosophy at Titan has always been “Design to inspire”.
Design is an integral part at Titan. It is not merely aesthetics; design finds an answer to consumer needs, and that’s how we approach it across all our categories from watches to jewellery to eyewear.
When we started off on our journey three decades back, we did something disruptive. We came up with watches which were stylish.
In an era where it was all HMT and functionality, we re-positioned watches as a fashion accessory from a timekeeping device. We started as a one-brand, one-category company, and today we are a multi-brand company.
By understanding the consumer’s needs, their tastes, understanding macro and micro trends, which influence their behavior and attitude and designing products which delight them has always worked for us. User-centered design with deep design stories have been our area of focus.
What has your journey at Titan been like, in this role and before this?
My career started with Titan 29 years back. Even after close to three decades with the company, I am excited about coming to work every day.
It speaks a lot about the company in terms of the culture and the freedom. Titan has always kept things exciting, fresh and challenging for me. Titan feels like a second home now, which is what makes every day interesting.
In this time span, I have been in multiple roles handling different business verticals.I joined as a fresh recruit in the market research department in 1990 and a few years later, I was heading marketing at the company’s fledgling operations in West Asia and Africa, based out of Dubai.
Over the years, I have switched to various verticals internally, which gave me new opportunities within the company for both personal and professional growth.
In my current role, I get to opportunity to come up with great products for the company across all our business, which gives both topline and bottom line also enhances the image of our brands.
People give more importance to the functionality element of products these days. How do you design keeping in mind what the audience likes?
Design is a valuable strategic asset because it helps companies remain relevant in a world that is undergoing unprecedented change. Design can offer a solution.
As the grooming and fashion accessories market matures, it is Design which will play a critical role in understanding the rapidly changing and evolving needs of the consumer. To ensure the designs are created, keeping functionality of the product in mind, is essential.
In our designs for the Aveer, men’s jewellery collection from Tanishq for example, we have consciously made a move away from conventional rings and cufflinks to offer the modern man a range of minimalistic styled rings, bracelets, chains, kadas, single ear studs in multi-coloured gold, and diamonds, designed to convey confidence and success in a subtle, but powerful manner.
Any products categories you would like to highlight, where design played an integral role?
Design plays an important role in all products designed under any brand in Titan. To highlight one, bringing Raga to life was a interesting phase.
What makes that brand unique is the fact that it is only for women. Back then there were watches being made which looked like counterparts of men’s watches.
The idea was to make exclusive pieces to suit the changing requirements of the Indian woman. These are chic contemporary watches. Earlier, the brand was associated with sensuality and beauty.
We decided to change that perception. Today, the designs are more purpose driven and aligned to values like strength and capability and various facets of today’s woman.
How is technology changing design at Titan?
We are not a conventional technology company.
However, it is now an interesting time to integrate technology into our business. Especially in watches, we are now technology focused with the category becoming “smart”.
We are once again at the stage when we did quartz over mechanical and we won. Now the world is changing, smart over quartz, and the ecosystem is no longer a watch ecosystem; the ecosystem is Apples and Samsungs and others.
The process has become more cumbersome. One is the technology which comes into the product; the other is the UI/UX (user interface/user experience) which goes into your phone.
You still have to do the first bit to bring in the aesthetic piece, but to bring in the technology piece is very different. We have invested in setting up an in-house UI/UX team of talented people.