Collaboration with Warner Bros a step towards becoming global brand: Pebble co-founder Komal Agarwal
Pebble, a homegrown smartwatch brand, is aiming to go global. The company, which claims to be the fastest-growing homegrown audio and wearable brand, recently collaborated with Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products to offer a unique experience to Game of Thrones fans in India. According to Komal Agarwal, co-founder, Pebble, this is a major step towards taking the brand to a global level.
Komal also feels that affordable smartwatches are now providing accurate stats like step count and heart rate. She also told Zee Business that Pebble is constantly innovating the software to make the overall battery life of the smartwatch better and wants to ensure that it lasts at least 7 days even on heavy usage of all features.
Here are the edited excerpts from the interview:
1. The Indian smartwatch market registered 167 per cent YoY growth - what kind of growth do you expect for Pebble?
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Komal Agarwal: The Indian smartwatch sector is making waves, having eclipsed even China and the United States, which were formerly the leading producers. The significance of this rise can be seen in the fact that while the global smartwatch sector has shrunk in the last two quarters, the Indian market has grown by 167 per cent year on year, ensuring that the global decline is kept to 1.5%. At the moment, the Indian smartwatch sector dominates the worldwide market, and the future is projected to be even better and greater. And Pebble is among the top 5 key players contributing to the further growth of this industry.
2. Pebble recently collaborated with Warner Bros. Do you really think such collaborations help a home-grown brand considering the fact that India is a price-conscious market?
Komal Agarwal: Franchises like Game of Thrones and Harry Potter series are universal fan favourites and India too has a huge fanbase for them. We know for a fact that consumers look forward to owning merchandise from their favourite fantasy series. They are even willing to pay a small premium for the same, as long as the pricing is still in the affordable segment. We recently collaborated with Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products to bring a trio of GoT-inspired smartwatches that provide an immersive ‘Fire and Ice’ unboxing experience to the consumers. We have seen excitement amongst consumers ever since it was launched and this Limited Edition Luxury Smartwatch in the mid-premium price range caters to the masses. This is also a step towards becoming a global brand.
3. What are the biggest challenges for Indian smartwatch manufacturers like you? Also, what kind of support do you expect from the government?
Komal Agarwal: The biggest challenge that the Indian smartwatch manufacturers face is the fact that we are still dependent on China for raw materials like PCBA, Batteries and quick turnaround for other raw materials like new design moulds. However, the manufacturing industry is working towards overcoming these challenges. The government has been our biggest support in this endeavour as it provides us with subsidies for manufacturing in India, which goes a long way in ensuring that we can work relentlessly towards our goal.
4. Indian consumers want feature-loaded devices at affordable prices. But none of the affordable watches provide correct stats - be it step count, heartbeat, etc. Don't you think this will impact homegrown companies in the long run?
Komal Agarwal: It is incorrect to say that affordable watches don’t provide correct stats. Stats like step count and heart rate are quite accurate even in the affordable segment watches. As a matter of fact, the entry segment watches provide a good indication and fairly accurate figure of key health stats. We at Pebble ensure this through cutting-edge innovations and advanced trackers, and by constantly diversifying our product portfolio in response to growing consumer expectations and needs. Pebble is paving the way for domestic smartwatch players by staying ahead of the trends.
5. What are things that differentiate Pebble from brands like Boat, Fire Bolt and others?
Komal Agarwal: Pebble as a home-grown brand has become the preferred choice for consumers across the spectrum. While our Design and style factor is a clear differentiator, the integrated technology that compliments it is an equally contributing factor for our products becoming so popular. As our products focus on utility, technology, price and style, this combination in totality makes Pebble enticing for Millenials and Generation Z who want it all.
6. Please share details about how the revenue or net income of the company has been in the recent past.
Komal Agarwal: Pebble has been growing faster than the industry average YoY in FY23. The same is expected in the current FY as well. We have also ensured a healthy bottom line along with rapid growth in the recently concluded Financial Year. Moreover, Pebble’s market share has grown rapidly and we are now among the top 5 brands in the country compared to the top 10 last year.
7. Most of the smartwatches by homegrown companies fail to provide good battery life. Do you think pricing is the reason behind it?
Komal Agarwal: While some entry-level watches in the sub-Rs 2k category may have a lower capacity battery to make them more cost-effective, in most watches pricing is not the major reason for lower battery life. The bigger constraint is the size/weight of the watch. If a higher capacity battery is used in the watches, it makes the watch bulkier/heavier to wear. We are constantly innovating the software to ensure different sensors and displays utilise less battery so that the overall battery life increases to at least 7+ days even on heavy usage of all features. For now, it is important to strike a balance between optimum weight/size of the watch, battery capacity and quality of the user experience.
8. In which price range Pebble is selling maximum smartwatches?
Komal Agarwal: As we cater to not just the metros but tier 2 and tier 3 cities as well, we have seen that our consumer base ranges between the age group of 20-40 years. It has also been seen that the best-selling watches are in the price bracket of Rs 2500 to Rs 4500. The fact that we have been able to create pocket-friendly wearables with enhanced functionality and designs that seamlessly fit with the style and tech needs of the youth is the key cause for this tremendous success.
01:19 PM IST