Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Automotive Advertisements that connect!

What better time for discussing the aforementioned topic, post the release of the Mahindra's "Live Young, Live Free" campaign.

Seldom automotive ads could touch the Target Group in a holistic manner. The communication most of the times used to narrow down on features rather depicting the connect. Automotive advertisements are one of the most difficult ads to create - the understanding of the consumer requirements and association with the brand needs to be spot on! The message has to be a combination of aspiration and utility - the mixture needs great level of creativity to be precise.

Months ago I encountered the BMW - Feeling Remains ad. I simply re-winded the ad several times for the pleasure of it. It was a feeling that lingered on after watching the ad - the advertisers just hit the sweetest spot. The communication just emphasized how the Bavarian Automaker wanted to connect the feelings and emotions of their cars with consumers looking for the ultimate driving thrill. If observed deeply the characters depicted in the movie are the exact Target Segment of the Brand (by the way characters have been dressed, the locale they are present). The ad felt like -

There was only one Indian Ad that had been fresh through years in my mind - "Reclaim your life" of Tata Safari. It had a perfect symphony of exotic visuals, catchy music and touching message to establish the connect. The volume of my TV used to be the maximum when the ad used to be aired. Tata Safari just found a loyalist in me even though I'd never driven that car! It achieved an aspirational value just with the communication.

Strange, ain't it; how your desires are captured by marketers and presented before you. The excitement and thrill of off-road and adventure has caught the attention of youth. The conversationalist Indian, now isn't scared to explore new places. Weekend trips are a routine and once-in-a-year travel has become a part of life. The evolving trend has been beautifully captured by the new ad shot by Mahindra. It really celebrates the emerging quest for freedom and adventure. Have a look on the ad -

The ad showcases the Mahindra portfolio of products in exotic locations. The heli-cam shots have amazingly captured the natural landscapes and mountains of Kerala & Ladakh. The ad is directed by Prakash Verma of Nirvana Films (Interface Communications). The music is catchy and so is the message. The ad has already clocked over 8.5 Lakh views within a week of its post in Youtube. We wouldn't be surprised to see 'We are the living' anthem repeatedly being broadcasted and used by Mahindra Automotive Portfolio in the coming months!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


That is what Maruti Suzuki replied to Hyundai with its all new Alto 800. Needless to say earlier generation Alto had literally put India on wheels and ruled both the sales charts and hearts for more than a decade. With over 20 lakh vehicles on road the brand had become the best selling model in the world! Mind you, every 2nd minute an Alto is sold; and no other auto maker is even close of achieving the feat. Alto has become the most aggressive brand averaging 3 lac units per year. The spurt in dieselization and increase in the petrol prices had started to woo away customers from the brand. Maruti believes that a new look and improved features could revive the ailing brand.

Over 6000 bookings before launch, 200 deliveries at a dealership in Kerala is the testimony of response it got and that makes us believe that Maruti is all set to take off. Whenever Maruti  gets gloomy it comes up with products to revive everything just as it did with Esteem, Zen,wagonR, Alto,swift,dzire and the now Alto800.

Talking about its looks, it has taken a leap to a different level. It looks a generation ahead of the old one with its uber wave-front design. The petal shaped headlight and the twin grill gives it front a character and curves on the sides makes it appealing and a bit up market too. Similar story impresses you at the back as well with smoothening tail lamps and a smiley curve. . Eon was impressive in its looks and had set the trend that even entry level cars can look stylish! Alto 800 continues to do so - As you step in, your expectations are already steep and it lives up to that with good material quality and finish. Sliver lines in the centre treat your eyes and you get a proper practical bottle holder besides gear lever. Another practicality is added by rotary vents on the sides which are certainly easy to adjust unlike other squared ones in all Maruti models. As you shift yourself to the back, leg space is not that comfortable but u do get better head room since it 70 mm wider and higher than eon. Boot space is about 177lts whereas in eon its 211lts. Needless to say dual tone interior in eon takes a leap.

Under the bonnet it uses the same FAD 800 cc engine which delivers 47bhp and 7.03kgm of torque, it is not at all peppy as it was in Alto and u don’t need to rev too hard since it responds quite generously. It’s good to drive in the city traffic as it picks up from 3rd gear with ease. On the highway as well it does justice as you rev hard till you touch the 100kmph mark and thereon lack of power is inevitable. Whereas Eon produces 55bhp and 7.65kgm of torque and it impresses you clearly on the highway with that extra power. As you expect Maruti claims its mileage to be 22.74kmpl which is ahead of eon which covers 21kms on highway for one lt of fuel. So the question is would you travel 1.7kms extra in the Maruti  being price conscious or you won’t mind and just blow it in the eon.

Quite clearly Eon is a bit better to drive and has a slight more leg room and boot space, but you get more head room in Alto 800. On the outside, Maruti plays clean and sharp and comfortably wins the battle of beauty. 

Most importantly someone who is aiming for a car of that category is one who is the first time buyer and quite price sensitive too many a times. Maruti alto 800 costs 2.44lac for the base model whereas Eon charges Rs.  2.78L for D-lite base model which is 2k costlier than the mid variant lx of Maruti alto 800. Hence in terms of pricing Maruti has played its trump card and that is the reason Hyundai is offering hefty discounts in Eon this festival season. Quite comfortably Maruti is low on your pocket, high on style quotient and practical in all sense. So ladies and gentleman, if I were you; I would’ve clearly choosen Alto800 and it’s the time to khisco….!

(Author - Anshul Chawla - Is an automobile enthusiast who love and live cars! Can be ignited at anshul_chawla@live.com)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Indian Automotive Trend - 2012-13

A lot has changed this year in the Indian Automotive Space. Alto is no longer strategically important to Maruti Suzuki as Ertiga has proved to be. Renault clearly overpowers the likes of Skoda, VW, Fiat, GM with the success of just one product - all hail the 'Duster'. M&M pips Tata from the third slot without having an hatchback in its portfolio! Hyundai successfully manages to guard its second spot with the increased numbers from its higher priced products (such as the Verna, Elantra)!

A look on the numbers (Oct'12) - Duster alone vs Skoda, VW, Fiat & GM -

The notable trends of the year were -
  • a> 'Diesel'ization - A large chunk of the customers moved to purchase higher priced diesel cars. The consumer was ready to shell out a lakh more for the diesel counterpart as he/she wasn't ready to bear the fear of the 'any-time' increasing petrol prices. No doubt i20/swift fared better in comparison to the only-petrol variant available Wagon-R, i10, Alto or Eon.
  • b> First Time Buyers readiness to pay more - This clearly infers a rise in the disposable income of the first time buyer. Gone are the days when consumers were ready to accept the basic features of a car. Nowadays the customer wants 'more' and luxury is in! A car is surely a style statement more than a means of transportation. A probable Alto customer is now buying a Figo/Micra/i20/Beat and is happy shelling out the extra bucks.
  • c> Platform Sharing - With the decline in success-rate of new products, OEM's are apprehensive in investing huge money in developing new products. Also the time-to-market is reduced with the concept of Platform Sharing. Lets see some examples -
    • i. As against Rs 5.5 bn spent on Xylo, only Rs 1 Bn has been spent on Quanto. The same platform is simultaneously being used on 3 products - Xylo, Genio & Quanto.
    • ii. Maruti using the Swift platform for Dzire
    • iii. Renaut & Nissan have mastered the trick - Micra / Pulse and the platform raised to Sunny / Scala
    • iv. VW & Skoda were the pioneers - Fabia / Polo to Vento / Rapid 
    • SX4 hatch showcased in Auto Expo
      • The results are clearly visible - Honda is now planning to bring a sedan version of its successful hatchback Brio. We wouldn't be surprised to see a hatchback version of SX4/Cruze/Fiesta either in the times to come.
  • d> UVology - You need to have an SUV/MPV in the portfolio to keep the cash registers ringing - this was the mantra for all OEMs this year. The segment has magically grown over 50% and have clearly outnumbered their peers in the similar class - Ex: A Duster sells 5406 units in comparison to the similar priced Verna which does 5050 units (Verna being the leader in its class). XUV 5oo alone sells higher than all the D-segment cars combined!!! This has now started a war between OEMs to fasten their plans of launching their MPVs/compact SUVs. These UVs are not only bigger/better but offer equal value to their sedan counterparts. Ex: A Duster provides a mouth-watering mileage of 20.45 kmpl and Ertiga provides 20.77 kmpl!! 
  • e> Add as many NEW products as you can - Earlier, Indian consumers characteristic was orthodox and were skeptical to try new products. 'Tried-and-tested' was the mantra and thus hampered the propositions of new entrants. The recent developments new saw the shift of customers to NOVELTY. If an OEM had a better offering, it was accepted with open-heart. Stalwarts like Tata are facing sudden downfall - the reason being no new product offerings in their kitty (the previous launch Aria was on 2010 - no new product offered from the stable ever since).
    • * This has now led to a slew of new product launch plans from various OEM's. The automakers are now on a product-offensive strategy mode and expect a host of new launches in the coming times.
  • Design as the new 'Differentiator' - The best example for the aforementioned point is Hyundai . With its fluidic design philosophy it has earned a lot of admiration and allowed to successfully establish in high-end segments. The fluidic Verna easily over-threw the segment leader within months of its launch. The neo-fluidic Elantra is on the footsteps of Verna and is currently the best performing vehicle in its segment. Eon also set the trend of having stylishly looking products in the entry level category. No wonder Maruti answered with its 'wave-front' design inspired Alto 800! Even M&M tried something similar with a "Cheetah" inspired XUV 5oo :) The same concept was heard from Ford when they had introduced the 'kinetic' Fiesta!
Indian Automobile Market is now one of the most Volatile and Vulnerable markets in the world. And its is imperative that it would be the most important market for the OEMs considering its tremendous growth potential.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Indian Car Sales Figures - October 2012

October 2012 Sales Figures - Pan India
·       1) HAPPY FESTIVE SEASON! Was the salute in my previous month’s post. It stood out to be true and majority of the OEM’s are truly ‘celebrating’ the festive fervor. The increase in the diesel prices boosted the demand for the almost dead petrol cars. The decrease in the interest for car loans came at the right time and pumped the required liquidity confidence in the market at the right time. The ‘UV’olgy still had its grip and even grew this season. October was also the month of new launches – ‘Alto 800’, ‘Ssanyong Rexton’, ‘New Ford Figo’, ‘Manza Club Class’, ‘Safari Storme’ to name a few.
·        2) Maruti and Resurgence seems synonymous. It spurted the automobile industry growth for October’12. It crossed the 1 Lakh figure (including exports) after a long interval. It recorded a 94 per cent jump in car sales during the month over the same month last year. The industry leader also launched its new Alto with a fresh ‘wave front’ design. It has already garnered over 30k bookings and the offtake numbers support the fact. Along with K10, the Alto brand had its ever highest offtake figures in past six months with 26600 numbers. The Swift family (Swift hatchback + Dzire) heralded the flag with a combined figure of 29822 units. Ertiga too jumps in the party with an ever-highest billing of 7289 cars. However, the refreshed Ritz couldn’t add any extra ‘JOY’ with its average offtake of 5389 nos.
·        3) Notable performance was from Kizashi – with 35 numbers in Oct’12; it equals the combined offtake of past 6 months (35 nos from Apr’12 – Sep’12). The surge was primarily through a 5-Lakh rupee drop in its price J Also the tall blue-eyed boy performs well (13608 units) on the base of confidence in petrol cars post the diesel hike.
·        4) The Estilo, SX4 & A-star are still in the dark and seem to slowly loose the sheen with time – with a meager figures of 1217, 695 & 587 units. Can a refreshed avatar change the fortunes of the aforementioned brands? Only time’ll tell.
·        5) Mahindra makes waves again. Not only in sales; but in customer satisfaction levels as well. Mahindra emerges as the most improved OEM in Sales Satisfaction Index & Customer Satisfaction Index studies from J.D. Power. The effort has been well applauded with the increased customer orientation levels towards the brand. No wonder an XUV 5oo sells more than all the D-segment cars combined in the same price band.
·         Bolero’s take on anything attitude works in its offtake numbers as well. It has been the most consistent brand in terms of sales numbers over several months now. It tastes its best billing till date with 11071 units. Scorpio proves its mettle again with its highest offtake in this FY – 4681 units. Quanto takes the concept of ‘Compact SUV’ to the next level – with over 5k bookings it is successful in dispatching 2044 units to the dealers.
·         6) Xylo & Verito figures remain average with 2044 & 1553 respectively. Can we term it as the Quanto effect? It’ll be too early to name that.
·        7) Rexton is received well. With launch in only 2 cities (Delhi + Mumbai), its offtake was 80 units. With launch in many more key cities this Diwali, we can expect Rexton to surely challenge the market leader ‘Fortuner’. However, supplies of this Korean magnet needs to be assessed.
·         8) The ‘trend-setter’ Hyundai also relishes in the festive hungama with its best  month in this financial year. i20 slowly approaches the 10k mark – initially touted to have a fortune similar to Honda’s Jazz; this uber-cool hatch amazes everyone with its sales figures month on month! It even surpasses its younger sibling i10 in terms of sales volumes (i20 – 9058 nos, i10-8988 nos). The recently added Daytime Running Lamps adds to its long feature list and hence allows an hatch owner to enjoy the luxury features of a sedan.
·       10) The neo-fluidic Elantra now adds another feather to the Korean carmaker – it consistently tops the sales in its segment (D1) with 668 units. Even the fluidic Verna set the sales chart on fire with 5050 units of offtake.
·         11) The OEM that gains the most with the increase in diesel prices is Honda. With 3700 units of Jazz & 3976 units of City, Honda gets justice. We also got to see the preview of the Brio sedan (with its launch in Thailand). We can expect the OEM to create some serious ripples with its to be launched diesel-offerings in the coming months. Even the Honda City-CNG was launched in India this October.
·        12) Beat takes a beating – almost de-grew by 50% month-on-month. Was this a UVA-Sail effect? Or else it was an effect of increase in diesel prices and Beat losing its advantage. Maybe both. The UVA Sail is expected to be priced less than a Swift and pose some serious threat to the iconic Swift. But with the average reviews of the Sail, its fate is totally dependent on the customers acceptance.
·         13) Tata is experiencing a hard time selling its ‘once’-iconic brands. It also launched a blitzkrieg of “refreshed” indica ev2, manza club class and Safari Storme to subsidize the falling sales. Karl Slym now has a mammoth task to protect Tata’s territory – Ex: it is slowly losing its taxi share of Indica & Indigo to Etios and Liva sisters. Bolero has clearly overtaken Sumo over the years. Safari has now Duster & veteran Scorpio to dare. Aria proves to be a costly affair.
·         14) Most importantly Tata Motors need ‘NEW’ product launches to revive. It has already set plans to charter product offensive strategy launch several new products in next 3-5 years.  
·         15) Renault seems to satisfy all its dealers with a record-shipping figure of 5406 units. It is also expanding exponentially – and is on track to achieve 100 dealers mark by the end of FY. The Scala & Pulse brands are also supporting adequately to the OEM.
·        16) Nissan’s dealers decision to oppose Hover Automotive India proves to be a shocker. Nissan’s dealers are unable to understand the reason how Nissan’s partner Renault is successfully bringing in new products and supporting the viability of its channel partners. Nissan dealers have now demanded Nissan’s direct intervention rather than using an intermediary (Hover) to improve the situation.
·        17) Toyota continues its dream run with Fortuner & Innova. However, its India-specific products – Etios & Liva are slowly losing their charm. Also their increasing penetration in taxi fleets points Toyota’s desperation to improve the volumes.
      18) Yeti with 6 units seems to come to a natural death situation. Skoda also fails miserably to improve its Fabia numbers – 256 units only! The situation is not great in its parent company VW too. With hefty promotions and discounts – only Polo makes a mark in Oct’12.

    A list of Top 20 Brands of the month -

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