‘Buyers of Tata Motors’ cars are far younger and wealthier’

Rashmi Pratap Mumbai | Updated on January 09, 2018

VIVEK SRIVATSA, Head of Marketing for passenger vehicles business

The fourth largest passenger car maker is working hard to shed its ‘taxi maker’ brand image

After becoming the fourth largest passenger car maker, pipping Honda Cars India, Tata Motors is working hard to change its ‘taxi maker’ brand image. From launching swanky cars to pushing digital marketing, the Tata group company is going all out to woo the millennials with its four-wheelers. Vivek Srivatsa, Head of Marketing for passenger vehicles business, talks to BusinessLine about the brand journey so far and the road ahead. Excerpts:

How do you plan to strengthen the Tata Motors brand image now that sales numbers are looking up?

The brand image was more aligned as a maker of vehicles, more for the taxi segment, which meant our vehicles were known to be robust, easy to maintain and with a low cost of ownership. However, we were lacking the equity for personal buyers. But over a period of time, with new design philosophy cars coming in, we have managed to gradually change that perception.

From marketing point of view, we are highlighting the pillars that Tata Motors brand stands for.

When you buy a Tata car, you get three things – one is a great looking car, second is connectivity options and the third factor is safety.

These are three clear elements we are working on as signature DNA for Tata Motors. And it has started to pay dividends.

How have these measures changed things for the company, and the brand?

We are now seeing a different kind of customer coming into our fold. This buyer is far younger and more affluent. A few years back, the average age for our car buyer was 40 plus but now, say for Nexon, more than 50 per cent of our customers are below 35 years. What is encouraging is that most of them have not had an engagement with us earlier and are first-time Tata buyers and this is a huge change. These changes are not witnessed easily. We will continue on this path and keep reinforcing our brand initiatives.

What is being done to keep these customers within the Tata Motors fold?

We now cover close to 400 towns and are number two in terms of customer satisfaction (as per J D Power 2017 Customer Service Study). Over the past seven years, we have improved one position every year and today we are almost at par with the best in the market. There is a lot of effort that has gone to give real good assurance and after-sales service, which is going to retain our customers. While we continue to improve and offer the best experience at dealerships, today our websites and apps have digitised our sales process a lot. Our websites and apps have configurators for customers and offer 360 degree videos. Our website acts as a digital showroom and helps customer choose, compare, and analyse the car digitally. It has helped in creating customer confidence.

What about one blockbuster product that can catapult Tata Motors to top three league?

Actually one blockbuster is good for movie, but in terms of business, it is much better to have four strong pillars on which you can be more stable. Between Hexa, Nexon, Tiago and Tigor, we have four products which deliver us consistent volumes and growth every month. Tiago – we have decided not to call it a blockbuster – but it is among the fastest and most steadily growing vehicle in that segment.

It started at 3,000 to 3,500 (in sales) and today we are in excess of 7,000 a month. Even one-and-a-half years after its launch, it is continuously growing.

Hexa is the most awarded car last year. Most of the demand for Hexa is for the top-end variant (priced at over ₹20 lakh). We, as an organisation, are building sustainable products and we like to spread our sales volumes over many products.

Tata Motor buyers still have to explain their choice of brand. There is still reluctance in accepting the brand.

Change of brand perception happens over time. In our industry, it is products which create brand. We have the products now. It will take time to change the perception but we are in the right direction.

Published on December 13, 2017

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