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‘‘India will soon emerge as one of the largest markets for Victorinox globally’’

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Since 1884 when Karl Elsener invented the legendary Swiss Army Knife, how has Victorinox evolved as a travel product company?

Anish Goel

In the year 1999, the travel gear line was launched in Switzerland. Embodying the spirit of the Swiss Army knife, Victorinox travel gear reflects the company’s motto of functionality, design, innovation and quality like every other Victorinox product. Since then the travel products have been developed keeping in mind our consumer’s needs and demands.

How does Victorinox view the Asia Pacific market and India in particular?

India is a very important market not only for Victorinox, but also for most of the leading global brands. While most of Europe is battling an economic slowdown, these brands are looking towards countries like India to fuel their growth. That is the reason why we have seen an influx of international luxury brands in recent years, which has coincided with the growth of luxury retail space in the country.

Victorinox has chosen not to go through the traditional route of signing up a brand ambassador from India followed by a blitzkrieg of television advertisements to make its presence felt. We have worked towards expanding our retail presence and have concentrated on targeting consumers through a combination of advertising in select publications and conducting BTL activities.

We also view India as a huge market for e-commerce, as the internet savvy population of India is more than the total population of many countries. Victorinox has worked towards expanding its online presence and today we are present in all of the top online shopping portals in the country.The growth we are witnessing year on year makes me fairly confident that India will soon emerge as one of the largest markets for Victorinox globally.

Do you think international travel exposure has made Indians more brand conscious?

Yes of course. A combination of world travel and exposure to Western popular media has made the Indian consumer not only brand conscious but also quality conscious. Indian consumers according to me are very smart shoppers, and are willing to spend money where they see quality. The Indian consumer today pays as much importance to the shopping experience and it is essential to provide them with a point of sale which is of an international standard.

How do you see the travel gear market in India?

In the last few years, we have seen huge transformation in the travel gear market in India. Bags have started looking smarter with increased fashion quotient. Hard-side bags have been introduced with break-resistant shell while at the same time they have become lighter than ever before. Luggage bags are now available with four wheels, ensuring better movement. People have started using trendy colourful bags which can be seen on the conveyer belts while collecting the baggage at the airports. We have also witnessed that more and more international brands are now targeting the business traveller with their collections, as these are the people who have the spending power, are frequent flyers and are very conscious of the aesthetics and functionality of their luggage. We have constantly been expanding the product line to target different profiles of consumers and also expand our network of chain stores and partnerships across the country.

Your reasons behind starting your own company Basecamp? How is the company evolving?

Established in 2003, Basecamp is a one stop shop for all the travel needs of the discerning traveller.The store has a blend of various products that make travel convenient and easy for the adventurous, leisure and business traveller. Basecamp offerings include overnight office bags, laptop bags, and trolley bags for the business traveller and even high utility ones for the adventure and leisure seeker.

Any new products Victorinox is introducing specifically for the India market?

In India, we have customised a few Swiss Knives with the imprint of Qutub Minar and Taj Mahal on the knife handles. They have proved to be a hit amongst the foreign tourists as souvenirs to be taken back to their country. We have also launched a YouWeCan Swiss Army Knife, in association with Yuvraj Singh and his foundation. This is the first time Victorinox has tied hands with an international cricketer. Victorinox also customises its products for corporate gifting.We have clients across various sectors like banks, telecommunications, automobiles and pharmaceutical companies.

Which of the divisions (timepieces, Swiss knife, cutlery, fashion or fragrances) contributes the most to revenues?

The Swiss Army knives – pocket tools and cutlery top the list in terms of revenue generation followed by travel gear and timepieces. We have just done a soft launch for fragrance and fashion. We plan to expand these two product lines in the near future.

Do you see a surge in the number of young Indians opting for adventure activities?

The Indian youth has become more independent and travel oriented. I see a lot of youngsters these days going on trekking and hiking trips to the Himalayas. Our endeavour is to engage the Indian youth in backpacking and adventure activities and also to cater to their travelling needs, all under one roof.

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