SUV marketing Essay
Current market Size & key market trends
India’s Socio demographic profile
India has been adjourned the fifth best country in the world for dynamic growing businesses, as per the Grant Thornton Global Dynamism Index. The index gives a reflection of how suitable an environment the country offers for dynamic businesses. It is also important to note that the Indian economy is growing, despite the economic crisis that engulfed the world. A survey conducted by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd (Deloitte) showed that the Indian tax climate was also considered to be reasonably favorable and India continued to be an attractive investment destination. .Figure: Growth in Population categories with higher incomes (Source NCAER Estimates)
The population categories with higher incomes has changed drastically from 2001-02 to 2009-10. Whilst the high income category (incomes of >180K INR per month) in 2001-02 was 13.8K households, this increased to 46.7K households in 2009-10; an increase of 16%. The middle income category (monthly income of 45K-180K INR per month) has also seen an increase from 109.2K households in 2001-02 to 140.7K households in 2009-10, with a growth of 3%. The low income category (=100, with industry average for passenger cars being around 95.
Positioning of different brands in SUV market
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Entry Level SUVs:
For What: Power & Space
For Whom: Aspiring SUV customers who might be looking for an alternative to the sedan Tag Line: Drive the change
Price: 7.69 to 11.79 Lacs
The Renault Duster is a vehicle that not meets the aspirations of the customers but also set the benchmark on all parameters. A new market reference in India, the Renault Duster is set to attract a new set of aspiring SUV customers who might be looking for an alternative to the sedan. The Duster Pre Launch advertisement shows men crying and these are those who have just bought a sedan and the ad says “Our apologies to everyone who just bought a sedan”. In a way, the Renault Duster re-defines Renault’s motto – “Drive the Change”. The Duster stands for Renault’s iconic image of bringing Comfort, Convenience, Styling, Safety & Technology, all in one power packed offering with an accessible price positioning. Mahindra Scorpio
For What: Strength, Affordability
For Whom: Big family, People who look for powerful cars
Tag Line: Nothing else will do
Price: 7.81 to 12.22Lacs
Mahindra based on its market research, had identified a need in the market for the dual benefits of comfort and luxury of a car as well as the ruggedness and thrill of an SUV. Also, this segment was big enough to generate the volumes required to justify the investment in the development of the new vehicle and to get the desired return. Finally, the hybrid positioning was considered to be feasible, communicable, and sustainable with an acceptable cost. Scorpio was positioned as “Luxury of a car. Thrill of an SUV”, a strategy through which the vehicle tried to acquire membership in two different categories. This strategy had a number of advantages. M&M was able to extend its reach beyond the SUV segment to the car segment, and it was able to get itself included in the consideration set of customers looking for a car as well as an SUV. It was able to target the customers looking for the mixed benefits of, the thrill and ruggedness of an SUV and the comfort, luxury, and easy handling of a car effectively. Finally, by adopting a straddle positioning, Scorpio was able to differentiate itself from other competitors by acquiring a distinct point-of-difference. Tata Safari
For What: Spacious, Power, Performance
For Whom: Die-hard Tata fans; middle class segment
Tag Line: Make your own road; Reclaim your life
Price: 8.34 to 13.26Lacs
Safari is India’s first full bodied luxury sport utility vehicle is known for its comfort and luxury. Launched as an off roader, the positioning of Safari has been changed thrice. Initially Safari was positioned as an offroader. The ads had jungle as the main locale and the baseline said “Make your own road”. The ads created by O&M were catchy and rightly positioned the premiumness of the brand. Later consumer research revealed that Safari is used by urban folks and perceived as a City vehicle and not an off roader. Hence Safari shifted its positioning as a “Car for the urban Jungle”. Safari recently did a major overhaul and launched it with new look and new engine DICOR and a new positioning. The new DICOR says “Reclaim your life” taking the campaign to a higher level and trying to connect with the customer at a higher plane. It can be called as Laddering where initially you start taking about functional aspects but later when the brand awareness is high you connect with the need of the customer at a higher level. Here Safari dares you to break from your past and go after your dreams. The ad, the message and the product is really impressive. Going by the new strategy of Tata Motors to load their products with value, Safari is also loaded with all the high-techs that is seen usually in high end SUV’s. Safari has all the potential to Reclaim its Rightful place Mid Segment:
For What: Luxury, Comfort
For Whom: Cross over for urban families
Tag Line: Luxury that thrills
Price: 9.95 to 16.64
Tata Aria was publicized as India’s first 4×4 Crossover. Crossovers are those vehicles that combine the attribute of cars and SUVs. Tata motors aimed to create a new segment of luxury crossovers with the launch of Aria. Tata Aria was launched with an expensive price tag of Rs 12 -15.5 Lakh making it the
most expensive model from Tata’s brand portfolio to compensate for the high price tag, Aria came with many features, attributes and gadgets which was available only in super luxury segments. Tata Aria wanted to position itself as a pioneer of a new category – a Crossover between a sedan and an SUV. Positioning theory talks about Points of Parity and Points of Difference as the two main focal points of positioning process. Marketers use Points of Parity to establish a membership in a category and also to establish parity with competitors. Tata Motors failed to understand the perceived points of parity of Tata Aria with brands like Innova and Xylo. It is obvious to any person that Tata Aria looks very similar to Toyota Innova which is the market leader in the premium Multi-Utility Vehicle segment. So just by looking at Aria, consumers establish its membership in the MUV category of Innova. Aria’s category membership is with Innova and not as a crossover. The first launch campaign was expected to identify Tata Aria with the new category – Crossover Sensing the mood of the market, Tata Motors launched a lower priced version of Tata Aria in the form of a 4×2 variant. The brand priced the product at par with the competitors and launched it with a different positioning. Here again Tata Aria was unsure about the positioning. The brand discarded its Crossover positioning and began to focus on features. The tagline was changed from “A New Breed “to ” Luxury that Thrills”. Within one year of launch, the brand had to make significant positioning changes which again proved to be a disadvantage for establishing a consistent brand image Tata Motors always nurtured an ambition to compete in the luxury segment in the Indian automobile market. It tried with brands like Estate, Safari, Manza but couldn’t find huge success because Tata Motors was perceived to be a value-for-money brand and consumers were never comfortable with paying a premium for Tata cars. Force One
For What: Power
For Whom: For people who want to make their presence felt
Tag Line: Be the force
Price: 11.19 to 11.26 lacs
With Amitabh Bachchan as the brand ambassador, the ads are very Indian and focus on one aspect- Force. The brand has adopted the tagline “Be The
Force”. In the ad, Big B says “India mein sirf Force hi Chalta Hai “. This message really strikes a chord with the consumers mind since everyone has felt this at some point in his life in India. With regard to the brand promotion, it is interesting to observe that the brand deliberately chose not to project itself as a premium. The brand is targeting those consumers who are pissed off by Indian roads. The brand is talking to the prospective sedan buyers and telling them that only a beast will survive in Indian roads. MAHINDRA XUV 500
For What: Powerful on-road, off-road capabilities
For Whom: The next generation of car & SUV buyers who are seeking new experiences in their lives Tag Line: License to thrill
Price: 11.82 to 14.42 lacs
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (M&M), India’s leading SUV manufacturer, recently launched its new television commercial for its premium SUV model, the XUV500. The television commercial reinforces its brand positioning of ‘May your life be full of stories’. The XUV500 has been seamlessly integrated into the film to showcase its on-road and off-road capabilities. The surprise towards the end of the film leaves the viewers thinking of those incredible experiences that make for life’s memorable stories and thus ties in with the positioning of the brand The idea was to create an aspiration among consumers to go on exciting road trips where the XUV500 can play an enabling role in the fulfillment of its brand promise of “May your life be full of stories”. The new television commercial of the XUV500 has been successful in creating connect and aspiration for the next generation of car & SUV buyers who are seeking new experiences in their lives. Skoda Yeti
For What: Power, Features, and Comfort
For Whom: Families and off roader drivers
Tag Line: The right of way
Price: 14.25 to 17.76 lacs
Skoda Launched an expedition campaign for its SUV, Skoda Yeti. Called the Right of Way Expedition, this month-long tour was flagged off by wildlife
enthusiast. The aim was bring out the exclusivity for Yeti during the launch and showcase a campaign which is unique in the current SUV segment. The targeted customers were who didn’t possess a herd mentality, had a strong individualistic streak and appreciated nature, wanting to get away from the corporate jungle every once in a while. These were the people who symbolized the values that the Yeti stood for. Skoda Yeti was positioned as a tough car built for rough terrains but at the same time comfortable for a drive. Ford Endevour
For What: Spacious, Comfortable
For Whom: Young adventurous upper middle class
Tag Line: Magnify the adventure; India’s no. 1 SUV; The Next Big Thing; Take the lead Price: 18.20 to 23.20lacs
Ford positioned the Endeavor as a spacious, comfortable car which also possesses good road presence. The print media campaigns emphasize size of the vehicle with tag line: Next Big Thing, Think Big, Magnify the adventure and Take the lead. The ad show endeavor is visible from a very high altitude in various terrains. CHEVROLET Captiva
For What: Style, Comfort, Sporty
For Whom: All-round family SUV for the upper middle class
Tag Line: Choose your turf
Price: 18.75 to 24.60 lacs
Positioned as a potential soft-roader designed to captivate the customers with its stunning presence and appearance. The Television ad show emphasis on various feature that enable easy handling, safety and capability to take on any terrain HONDA CRV
For What: Style, Sporty
For Whom: Upper middle class executives
Tag Line: Something new to crave; Live up
Price: 18.75 to 24.60 lacs
Honda CRV is one of the compact SUVs in India. CRV is the only SUV launched in India by the Honda till now. Positioned as a stylish and sporty SUV for the upper middle class executives, with print ads focusing on e style, feature and exclusivity with punch lines like – something to new crave, live up and Step into new life. TOYOTA Fortuner
For What: Luxury, Power and Performance
For Whom: Businessman and urban families
Tag Line: The world is mine
Price: 18.75 to 24.60 lacs
Fortuner is positioned as SUV having sophistication and bold design. The Fortuner was launched in August 2009 and TKM has so far sold over 41,000 units. The positioning campaign was launched at 5 airports in India with punch lines – “The Art of Power” implying on Power, Luxury and Performance.
Key Advertising and Promotion campaigns adopted by leading brands Mahindra XUV 500
Mahindra XUV 500 launched various parallel advertising and promotional campaign and they have been detailed below – Digital Marketing – FAce Book & Twitter
* From the beginning, Mahindra has carried out a digital campaign on Internet: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and has shunned the traditional TV & print media * Secrecy as an Influencing Strategy
* Before launch, Mahindra chose secrecy as a marketing strategy. The online marketing campaign had three parts: 1. Guess the Name
2. Unveil the XUV campaign
3. Guess the price
* The campaign was spread mainly through social media (new way of word-of-mouth spreading message) * Marketing campaign was created using “secrecy” as a strategy and enticing the customers to guess. The excitement of getting to know this secret kept the viewers hooked, while Mahindra used a staged tactic to reveal part by part of the new car Launch Campaign
* The launch campaign: XUV (I don’t like Carrots) – This launch campaign
would easily be one of the horrible ads in recent times. The client brief would be something like ” Let us build a horrible ad and see whether a good product would sell despite bad advertising” * There is nothing much to talk about this launch campaign. The campaign neither has a big idea nor has some newness in execution. Jungle, hunk, scantily clad man-eating ladies and XUV. There is no trace of any logic or marketing thought behind the advertisement. To add to the insult, there are some phrases like “I hate Carrots” I am Hungry etc. May be the agency thought XUV 500 was a deo with some fruit and vegetable flavors Force One
Big B as the Brand Ambassador
* With Amitabh Bachchan as the brand ambassador, one would wonder how the brand is going to structure its message * Force One had to convey a feel of ruggedness in order to gain consumer interest. The presence of Big B will assure eye-balls but if the communication is not right, people are going criticize the effort * In the advertising it project an international look and feel , something of the sort of a Reid and Taylor campaign highlighting the brand ambassador * The brand has started on a rugged communication hence it has virtually closed its doors on premiumness * The brand has chosen “Powerful ” as its USP and uses the analogy of ” Force ” to communicate its positioning * The role of the ads for automobiles serves as bait for the consumers for a test drive. No on buys a car just because of the ads. The product will sell itself if it excites the consumers and the influencers * Watch the campaign here : Force one Kids, Force One Clean
Toyota launched Fortuner in India on August 9th 2009. The major marketing Campaign used by Toyota for Fortuner was named as – The Art of Power and it has been elaborated as below. Campaign Tag: “The Art of Power”
Move ahead with cutting-edge style and sophisticated luxury. The New Fortuner with its bold design and imposing presence gives you a distinctively new experience. So stand out and make your presence felt. A presence that won’t be ignored or overtaken!
Toyota Fortuner Marketing Campaign: Experience the Power of Art on your Mobile Campaign details:
* Campaign duration: Sep 05 2009 to Oct 05 2009
* Location: Airports in: Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin and Hyderabad * TG: HNIs, SEC A+ customers
Toyota wanted to provide a great experience of Toyota Fortuner in major Airports of India to target the potential customers Along with the car display which provides a great visibility the client wanted customers to take home the Fortuner experience despite having promoters at the display, client wanted every customer to be informed well about the car specs functionality etc Solution
Let the customer take Fortuner on their mobile! Provide the product information in an interesting way Customize the content based on different mobile phone models Make it as easy as pushing the thumb to get details of the car Through standees, Visual displays & promoters users were educated to turn their mobile Bluetooth. Use multiple media channels to maximize the reach for the mobile activation The mobile application included the following information for the SUV – * Mobile brochure
* Color Options
* Dealer locator
* Fortuner Mobile wallpapers
* Standees and visual merchandise
* Social media – links to Fortuner Facebook & Twitter pages Results and achievements
The campaign results as on 24th Sep 12 –
* Total Downloads – 46,273
* Unique users – 13,427
Big, Beautiful, Efficient
Campaign Tag Line- Drive the Change
Renault Duster is a robust, reliable and easy-to-drive SUV, ideal for drivers looking for a vehicle with real off-road capacities. Depending on the market, it ships in 4×2 or 4×4 versions. Touted as the first product in the compact SUV segment and a make-or-break model for Renault, the Duster was launched in July at a starting price of Rs 7.19 lakh for petrol and Rs 7.99 lakh for diesel variants All-terrain vehicles are frequently synonymous with bulk, but Renault Duster ‘s compact dimensions – 4.31m long and 1.82m wide –show that this does not have to be true. The reinforced underbody is suitable for all-track, all-terrain use, with high ground clearance of 210 mm, short overhangs (822 mm at the front, 820 mm at the rear) and big clearance angles. FACEBOOK Promotion
Targeting the premium C segment with this launch, Renault India has started a new campaign titled –Big Beautiful Efficient on Facebook. In fact the name of the contest is also the tag line of Renault Duster. Contest Details:
* The contest that Renault India has started for its more than 137K fans is exclusive for it’s community. In other words, when you click on the app the page will ask you to like it before you could carry on further * After liking the page and the authentication process gets over, you land up on a page where the brand will ask you to select three of your buddies. You will have to select your buddies on the three features: Big, Beautiful and Efficient that also resemble the features of Renault Duster. * You are shown the list of your friends and you have to select them according to the various attributes the brand has asked for. Once you have done that the next step is to tell a place where you would want to take your friends in the new Renault Duster. * Well that is all you have to do and if you are lucky enough then you will get to ride Renault Duster along with your friends. However, I would have preferred if there is some clarity regarding the actual prize – some fan comments were of the opinion that they would win a
Renault! What was GOOD?
* Design: The app no doubt scores on this. The app makes the selection of friends easy and it allows you a search option to find your friends if you have a heavy list. Along with this, the app gives a dashboard feel where you can not only post your entry but can also see who else has done. The page also has an option to go back to the Facebook page of Renault. * . Viral features: The app has used the viral feature that is provided by Facebook such as the ‘Share.’ Use of such features helps the contest to spread out to more users on Facebook. Short commings
* The campaign that has been designed for this contest is nothing spectacular. The brand has simply asked to select friends based on the features like big, beautiful, etc. But it has not kept an option to tell why one has done so. Doing that could have brought in some amount of creativity and excitement to the friend who is being voted also. * The content that is being shared regarding this campaign is nothing innovative. Simply asking fans to select friends. It would have been great if the brand had shared content related to the tag line. May be they could have scouted for people who are big, beautiful and efficient for their work. * Definitely the brand is trying to be social by giving you and your friends a chance to take a ride on the new Renault Duster but would require more brainstorming in terms of running Facebook campaigns. Production Constrains – All other campaigns were DELAYED:
A production constraint amidst the unprecedented success of the Duster compact SUV has made Renault delay an elaborate post-launch advertising campaign planned to promote the vehicle. With bookings now crossing the 18,000-mark, the waiting period has now stretched to over four-and-a-half months for certain color and variant options, company and dealer sources said.In Sep 2012 as per the company official – “Our production is sold out till November end. There was a mad frenzy at some dealerships with some unable to manage the crowd that showed up on launch day. At 2.5 to 4.5 months, the waiting period is highest for the two top diesel variants. Renault currently makes about 4,500 units of the Duster a month, as part of
a four-month production planning target. Touted as the first product in the compact SUV segment and a make-or-break model for Renault, the Duster was launched in July at a starting price of Rs 7.19 lakh for petrol and Rs 7.99 lakh for diesel variants (two power options, 85 and 110 PS). The target customer was those of entry sedans, who were looking for an SUV experience at an affordable cost. Tata Aria
Tata Launched Aria on 10 Oct 2010. Besides Electronic & Newspaper Campaign Tata Motors has taken the outdoor route to launch India’s first 4×4 Crossover. Physical Display
Three weeks launch campaign in Major cities and Physical display in major Airports . The campaign began on November 10 and will run for three weeks in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata and other tier I cities. Campaign team felt Outdoor is a natural medium for a car brand as the car buyers are expected to be on road. Also, looks are an integral part of a car brand’s salience and outdoor has the unique distinction of showcasing the product in very large sizes. Keeping that in mind, this campaign is to launch the Aria in the Indian market, to create awareness about the brand, communicate the product attributes and USPs. Online Campaign
To connect with its consumers and build awareness about this car loaded with approximately 50 unique features, Tata Aria has launched a contest that ask consumers to name 36 of the 50 features of the Aria.
The Tata Aria website has sports the Tata Aria in all its grandeur pointing out all of the 36 features of the Aria. A click on any of the numbers reveals a hint to what the feature might be – expecting the consumer to select the right feature out of the list of 50 options. One winner who guesses all of these features correctly wins himself the Tata Aria.
Marketing Strategies adopted by two key players
Mahindra XUV 500
Mahindra & Mahindra launched XUV 500 on 29th Sep 2011. The key elements for Mahindra & Mahindra marketing strategy for XUV 500 are as described below – Metaphor Cheetah
* Presenting the idea that XUV 500 was inspired by Cheetah. Cheetah which is known for its speed and agility was a perfect metaphor for the attributes that XUV wanted to project * The teaser ad for XUV launch was bang on with the idea of being Cheetah Inspired * The idea of using the Cheetah as the metaphor is really smart because of the ease with which that conveys the brand’s projected attributes. Secrecy
* Secrecy is a great marketing tool – especially when the final product is really well executed and world class. Apple is renowned for its secrecy as a marketing campaign. Apple pre-announces the product, but does not reveal the details till the day of launch and at the launch; Apple will spare no quarter to promote the product. The secrecy of the product adds to the customers inquisitiveness and creates an inbuilt desire to get that latest gadget * Secrecy is not a standard marketing tool – it must be used with great caution There are few prerequisites for using secrecy as a marketing tool: 1. Understand your prime market demographics
2. Know the customer expectations before hand
3. Create a hype, mystic and emotional attachment to your product 4. The final product must beat customer expectations
* When the XUV500 was launched in October – the result was a tremendous success. More than 8000 cars were booked in the first 10 days. The overwhelming response forced Mahindra to close the booking after 10 days. * The marketing campaign was a success beyond belief.
* 1. 150,000 people participated in reveal the name contest * 2. Over 100,000 people visited the web site every day * 3. Over 120,00 fans on Facebook
* 4. 35,000+ requests for test drives
* Soon after the launch, Mahindra changed gears and switched over to “shortage” as an influencing strategy * The initial bookings of 8000 cars were achieved within 10 days, and Mahindra created a shortage by stopping all new bookings. From October 2011 to Jan 26th 2012, Mahindra had stopped taking orders for new XUV500 cars! * This created a sense of scarcity and
more people rushed to car dealers to inquire about the car and when they can buy it * In the meantime, Mahindra put considerable marketing resources to Facebook and Twitter and kept the market hooked by revealing more stories about XUV500 * Finally on January 26th, Mahindra reopened the sales of XUV500 for 9 days only, and announced that they will stop taking new orders on 3rd February, and this will be limited time offer. I.e., customers now have an opportunity to buy the XUV500 in that short window * To create a hype for new car buyers, Mahindra decided to allot only 8000 cars by lottery! I.e., only 8000 of the lucky customers will get the car, and rest will have to wait longer – till Mahindra opens up XUV500 sales again * The human psychology reacts to a shortage by hoarding. Mahindra has now created a huge fan following to its car and then created a sense of shortage – thus making people rush to its dealers to buy the car * In the meantime, Mahindra has increased the price of the car by Rs 55,000 and people did not seem to care about the increased prices * The notion of shortage also creates a sense of exclusivity. So people rush to get the object in shortage – thus increasing demand (which results in willingness to pay more for the same product). For customers who were “lucky” to buy the XUV500 have a aura of exclusivity Tata Aria
Game Changer, New Breed, Super Luxury, Most Awaited, Eagerly Awaited, Flagship … These were the terms that were used during the much publicized launch of Tata Motor’s luxury offering – Tata Aria. Aria was launched on 11th Oct 2010, in Mumbai India – touted as the most luxurious, sophisticated and most expensive offering from Tata Motors in the passenger vehicle segment. The punch line on the brochure says about Tata Aria – “The fitness of a sedan with the muscle of an SUV”, which seems to be justified with the exteriors, interiors, power and the space which it offers.
Tata Aria was publicized as India’s first 4×4 Crossover. Crossovers are those vehicles that combine the attribute of cars and SUVs. Tata motors aimed to create a new segment of luxury crossovers with the launch of Aria. The objective was to provide to the Indian automobile users a vehicle that meets every conceivable requirement, from weekday serious business transport to weekend holiday travels, and from highway cruising to off-road punishment.
The vehicle was offered in four variants, Pure, Pleasure, Pride and Prestige, with the last two models being the high end models with all-wheel drive (4X4) capability. The vehicles had a host of electronics and safety features hitherto not offered in the Indian automobiles and provided a great combination of style and performance as well as comfort and safety. In fact, one of the campaigns of the company claimed at least thirty six features that were first in class for indigenous automobiles.
Tata Aria also benefitted from the design inputs provided by Tata Motors’ JLR team, which is reflected in the quality of trim and the various bells and whistles for driving and passenger comfort. Clearly, the emphasis was on providing an international class vehicle to the Indian consumer. The prices ranged from Rs 12Lakhs to Rs. 16 Lakhs ex-showroom. The introduction was accompanied by a marketing campaign that emphasized the capability to seat seven passengers and conquer off-highway applications without any compromise to the feel of a premium car.
A robust economic environment, higher consumer spends and the entry of new car models have turbo-charged the domestic automobiles segment, taking the demand curves to a new high. Tata Motors has chosen this opportune moment to launch its much-fancied crossover model Tata Aria, which combines the features of a sedan and SUV. And, to take this model to the right TG, the car major has taken the outdoor route, having vested the campaign execution duties with Clear Channel Mudra, an OOH arm of Mudra max. To showcase the car and communicate the brand message to a premium car audience which falls in the spending category of Rs. 12-16 lakh range, the company briefed its outdoor agency to look for sites in specific locations. They have taken care of several finer aspects like a clutter free creative so that the product and brand message stand out, and easy readability of message. Since their TG mostly travels in chauffeur-driven cars so they have taken eye-level sites which are visible from the rear seats of cars.
High visibility Strategic Placement
They decided to concentrate on strategic thinking through the campaign spread across markets, making the budgets work harder for visibility and lend the launch a bigger feel, purely by the craft of planning.
Wide format display to maximize exposure
Vertical Branding with Horizontal Display
The company has used hoardings, cantilevers and pillar branding in premium areas. As an innovation, neon has been used on billboards to highlight the brand name. Also, the halo effect created around cutouts of the car is eye-catching .
Neon used to highlight cutout & brand name
Marketing Strategy not worked out well
Despite so much going for the car, Aria failed to take off. The sales trickled to hundreds and showrooms started collecting unsold Arias. The Aria has been on sale for quite a while now but has failed to capture the fancy of the Indian automobile market.
An analysis of Aria saga teaches several lessons in competitive strategy and marketing. Wrong Positioning, the core
Points of Parity and Points of Difference are the two main focal points of positioning process. Marketers use Points of Parity to establish a membership in a category and also to establish parity with competitors. For brand launches in existing product category, category membership is automatically established because of similarity in product form, pricing, attributes etc. For example a new soap brand need not establish category membership since consumers know that the brand belongs to soap category just by seeing the product. Category Points of Parity is important for “really new products” where consumers are not able to connect any existing category to the new product. In such cases, marketers try to tell the consumers that the new product is related to an existing product category. Clearly, for a few thousand vehicles, the utility vehicle model variety is mind boggling. Amongst these, Tata Aria can lay claim to be different from all the SUVs with its car like profile and performance. This has, however, failed to
translate into a positioning proposition. At one level, Aria bore a significant resemblance to Innova which has been the acknowledged king of MUVs in India. With a length of 4780 mm which is longer by 200 mm and a width of 1895 mm which is larger by 125 mm compared to Innova but with the same seven seater profile, Aria began to be positioned in the marketplace by the buyers against Innova rather than against any of the other SUVS, despite the off road capability, imposing looks (with 17” wheels), and the several comparable sophisticated features it possessed. The sophistication and awesomeness of Aria was not a match for the simplicity and friendliness of Innova for the Indian market. This is borne out by the fact that Aria’s hundreds were, in fact, better sales than those of any of the imported vehicles but were just a fraction of the numbers notched up by the indigenous simpletons like Innova, Scorpio and Bolero. M&M’s newer SUVs, Xylo and XUV with greater sophistry also did substantially better. Here Tata Motors failed to understand the perceived points of parity of Tata Aria with brands like Innova and Xylo. It is obvious to any person that Tata Aria looks very very similar to Toyota Innova which is the market leader in the premium Multi-Utility Vehicle segment. So just by looking at Aria, consumers establish its membership in the MUV category of Innova. Whether Tata Motors likes it or not, Aria’s category membership is with Innova and not as a crossover. Probably, if Aria was positioned as just a superior Innova the marketing game would have been set differently. While Tata’s marketing team argues that it is a blend of a SUV and a Sedan and one can’t directly compare it to either of them, we think otherwise. For all fair comparisons, let’s assume that it is a car that can ferry 7 passengers in good comfort. A few contenders that immediately spring to mind are Innova, Tavera, Safari, Xylo, Scorpio, Endeavour, Fortuner and the Captiva. Here is a chart that gives sales figures of these contenders.
Entry deterrent price
As Michael Porter theorized, entry deterrent price is a vital concept in the success of new products. The price of a product is closely linked to the positioning of a product. Tata Motors may have calculated that Aria is substantially cheaper than the imported comparable (SUVs) by 25 to 75 percent. On the other hand, given that it was positioned vis-à-vis Innova it
was actually perceived to be 25 percent costlier than Innova. Although Aria was made available in a number of variants with increasing sophistication, the premium of 30 percent for the high end model relative to the base model was also seen by the market to be unattractive. There was no significant WOW factor in Aria which made consumer think that Aria belonged to a different category distinct from MUV brands like Innova. So when consumers checked out the brand Aria, they began to compare it with Toyota Innova. Innova had established itself as one of the most reliable and comfortable Car in India. Innova was priced at around Rs 12 lakh. When consumers began to compare Innova and Aria, Aria was perceived to be expensive despite the presence of many new features and attributes. Aria’s inflexibility with positioning and experimentations with pricing illustrate that a successful product entry requires both these factors to be properly benchmarked ab initio, failing which they are to be at least dynamically aligned as the market evolves. Had the vehicle been promoted with a clear crossover niche and in comparison with imported vehicles the positioning-pricing equation would have been more positive Service, makes or mars
If right positioning and pricing are the strategic enablers of product success in the automobile industry, satisfying after-sales service is the tactical assurance of product sustainability and customer delight in the marketplace. Ideally, a well designed and manufactured automobile should not require any servicing. Unfortunately in the case of Aria it appears that the incorporation of new generation of electronics caused considerable service issues. The lack of preparedness of the service infrastructure to handle a new generation automobile in the vehicle family has been a concern. This could have been obviated through extensive road testing on one hand and intensive training of service engineers in the new generation electronics on the other. Market Communication
For a brand that aims to create a new category that too a luxury one, the launch campaign failed miserably to communicate the concept of a new category. A sedan and an SUV colliding to form Tata Aria crossover was too basic , too amateurish communication strategy. The brand initially had the tagline “A New Breed “. The campaign managers failed to understand that just
by labeling the product as a crossover does not make it a crossover. The brand should produce sufficient evidence that it belongs to a new breed. In the case of Aria, the campaigns failed to provide a significant reason to be called as a new category pioneer. NEW Strategy
Because of the high price, it is clearly not a ‘mass-market’ car like the Innova so it cannot go high up the ranking table. But at the same time, it is not a luxury car because the masses are not ready to perceive the brand ‘Tata’ as a luxury manufacturer. People find the Tata Aria very expensive and over-priced, something that doesn’t bode well with the brand image. Tata’s products are inexpensive and offer ‘more car per car’ but the Aria seemed to break that rule and hurt itself in doing so. It is quite evident because the Fortuner from Toyota, which is in fact more expensive than the Aria, is also outselling the Aria and by miles! Only through building advanced products can Tata make the customer change his opinion or view on the brand, but opinions take years and generations of products to change. Tata definitely has to make the pricing attractive without cutting down on the features. Sensing the mood of the market, the brand discarded its Crossover positioning and began to focus on features. The tagline was changed from “A New Breed ” to ” Luxury that Thrills”. Within one year of launch, the brand had to make significant positioning changes which again proved to be a disadvantage for establishing a consistent brand image. Along with these campaigns in TV, the brand also ran a series of print campaigns highlighting the 36 new features of Aria. Those campaigns helped the brand to create a positive image of Aria.
Seeing the steep pricing dampened the enthusiasm over the features, Tata Motors launched a lower priced version of Tata Aria in the form of a 4×2 variant. The brand priced the product at par with the competitors and launched it with a different positioning. Having advanced technology and more features is definitely the only way to keep pace with the competition with balanced pricing and good marketing strategy. Hope new strategy works well for Aria.