Seiko eyes Thailand as base to boost watch sales in Asia

BANGKOK, NNA - Japan's Seiko Watch Corp. is expecting to attract more customers in Thailand, particularly young people, as it seeks to drum up sales in the Southeast Asian market, according to senior company officials.

The ratio of revenue from Asia excluding Japan is expected to grow from 20 percent to 25 percent of the total by 2020 and Thailand is an important driver because it is the biggest and most influential market in the Southeast Asian region, said Minoru Ishiguro, senior executive vice president.

The Japanese watchmaker aims to double sales of mid- to high-end models in Thailand in the next three years, seeking to draw more "Generation Y" customers with high purchasing power -- or those born in the 1980s and 1990s -- as they prefer to choose watches from design and functions matching their lifestyle.

"The Thai market has potential to grow because of the expanding middle class," Ishiguro said, adding that Seiko's medium-priced sport watch series dubbed "Prospex" is the key product contributing to the growth.

Harumitsu Akashi, managing director of local distributor Seiko (Thailand) Co., said the company will aim to boost sales by focusing on Prospex for the rest of this year.

Thailand is the fastest-growing market for Prospex with 50 percent growth last year, with the series comprising up to 30 percent of the Thai model lineup.

Seiko forecasts a 10 percent sales gain this year and plans to spend 10 percent of total revenue on advertisement and marketing campaigns to boost brand awareness and reach younger customers, according to the officials. It will broadcast a commercial through free TV channels for the first time.

The company launched on Tuesday the Prospex Zimbe Limited Edition for exclusive sale in Thailand for 37,500 baht ($1,098).

Seiko also plans to import more medium-priced models from Japan to serve Generation Y customers and expects them to reach 20 percent of its clientele in the next two years.

According to Seiko Thailand, models priced below $500 account for 50 percent of the company's total sales, followed by those in the $500-1,000 price range with 40 percent, the rest being those priced over $1,000. (NNA/Kyodo)