Making deeper inroads into small towns: Audi India head

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on October 25, 2019

Balbir Singh Dhillon, Head of Audi India, with Virat Kohli, Captain of the Indian cricket team, in Mumbai on Thursday   -  PAUL NORONHA

Audi India is tapping into the tier-2 and tier-3 markets, aligning its production in line with the demand, focussing on digitisation and providing easier financing schemes.

“It is also following a changed marketing strategy that focusses on investing in its existing customer base,” said Balbir Singh Dhillon, Head of Audi India.

Dhillon told BusinessLine that the contribution of tier-2 and tier-3 markets has increased over the past five years — almost equalling the contribution of tier-1 cities to the sales of luxury cars, in general, and for Audi, too.

Workshop-first approach

The German luxury automobile manufacturer will be following a workshop-first approach to penetrate into these markets. Dhillon said, “When we go with our workshop-first approach, I am not going to put a new dealer who just opens a workshop. My existing dealer partners will open another workshop in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, and when the volumes there are sufficient, he will also open a showroom.” He added, “So, all the routine maintenance is done in the workshops, which are in tier-2, tier-3, tier-4 cities. But if there is a major repair, you can take to a different, main workshop every dealer has. So that is the approach that we want to take.”

The overall luxury car market is reportedly declining by 20-25 per cent in 2019. Audi India will be aligning its production in line with the falling demand, with a focus on inventory management both at the company’s as well as the dealers’ end, he said.

Dhillon said that the current slowdown beleaguering the automobile industry is partly cyclical and partly structural. This is because the customer aspirations are changing, which, in turn, is changing the way companies approach customers. With the new Audi A6, launched on Thursday, the company is offering the ‘myAudi Connect’ App complimentary as an inaugural offer until December 31, 2019. The ‘myAudi Connect’ App offers a host of features for the first time in India, he said.

As a part of its digital retail initiatives, Audi India has also upped its e-commerce platform; customers can now purchase Audi merchandise directly from the Audi Shop website. Audi India also introduced Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) elements that give customers a look of a car that can be configured before purchase.

As for the change in its marketing strategy, he pointed out how the company’s marketing strategy has changed over the years.

The company’s strategy is to invest into its existing customer database, which will focus on drive events for customers, and invest back into its driver partners to promote the workshop-first approach, he said. Audi India has multiple launches planned in 2020, said Dhillon.

Published on October 24, 2019

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