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Special Columns
Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Editor-in-Chief
Dr. Arindam Chaudhuri
A.Sandeep Editor's Desk
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Now for The High Fliers
India’s Favourite Small Car Manufacturer is the envy of a Bevy of Premium and Luxury Players. But now Maruti Seeks to get into The Luxury Segment itself with The Kizashi. Is it The Right way forward?
Issue Date - 10/03/2011
The positioning of the car as a luxury sports sedan is unique to the product in the segment. Is it the factor that you are particularly counting on?
When we looked at the Kizashi, we tried to capture the essence of the product, after which we started studying the data available in the market. We found a set of very interesting findings. In this segment, most of the cars were chauffeur-driven and as more and more young consumers are jumping up the ladder, there is a need for such a product in the Indian market. In fact, even when we pitched for its business, the message was very clear – we wanted to launch it as the first luxury sports sedan in the Indian market.

In the segment that the Kizashi is playing in, the mother brand also plays a very big role. Do you believe that Maruti is at a disadvantage here as it is popular as a small car maker in the country?
This was a big challenge while we were firming up our strategy for this product, as we are aware of the fact that ‘badge’ value plays a very huge role in the case of the segment that Kizashi is present in. In fact, for the consumer of this segment, the mother brand plays a far bigger role as compared to the brand of the model. However, as the product is too brilliant, we wanted to bind a lot of buzz around the Kizashi brand to give it an exclusivity factor. The fact of the matter is that we are indeed fighting with giants like Honda and Toyota in this segment, but it is not an impossible task.

Conversely, can we also assume it as a case where Maruti hardly has a role to play as a mother brand in the success of Kizashi?
If you look at the entire badge value phenomenon, the mother brand helps the company to bring more consumers under its portfolio. It is not as if Maruti Suzuki has no equity in this segment. Because, as we know that it is the Maruti’s reassurance that the consumer gets when he comes to buy a Kizashi. In my view, it will be a give and take situation between the Maruti brand and Kizashi as both will attract more and more consumers towards each other. Moreover, we believe that it will also be an aspirational product for many Indians, which may help the company gain more consumers under its umbrella.
Still Taking India Home
In 1983, its competitors were outdated Ambassadors and Padminis. Now it competes with the likes of Santro, U-VA, Figo and Micra. Tomorrow, it may well compete with the Mercs and the Beamers. For the first time, 4Ps B&M documents the brand journey of Maruti Suzuki in India – a collector’s article!

Since 1991, India has moved from being a market that most MNCs considered untouchable to one that has become inevitable for most of them. Although a number of the first movers have felt the heat, a precious few have also been amply rewarded.

Maruti Suzuki is one instance you just can’t miss, and as predicted, it is also the #1 MNC in India in revenues, boasting annual sales of around Rs.300 billion with profits of over Rs.26 billion. While names like Nokia and Vodafone are close followers with annual sales of Rs.230 billion and Rs.220 billion respectively, the fact of the matter is that Maruti has been able to dominate the hearts and minds of Indian consumers over the past 28 years despite the competition growing by leaps and bounds. However, the journey has not been easy by any means. 4Ps B&M brings to you how the brand has evolved in the country and what makes Maruti Suzuki big enough to be an unbeatable force in the market.

Small is beautiful
Soon after the Maruti 800 paved its way onto the Indian turf, the price-conscious Indian consumer was instantly enamoured by its value proposition. When pitched against the bulky Ambassadors and the Padminis, it was light in weight. As compared to its gas-guzzling counterparts, it was fuel-efficient. In the era of obsolete technology, it was a performance driven marvel. And for Indians deprived of excitement and innovation, it was a dream come true from the technology leaders, i.e. the Japanese themselves. Little wonder then that it turned out to be an outstanding start for this Sanjay Gandhi brainchild, but there was much more to come. Just a few years after Harpal Singh, an ex-Air India employee got the keys of the first Maruti 800 from the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1983, Maruti Suzuki realised how marketing could be a critical driver of its success in the automobile industry. “The pre-Maruti era definitely belonged to Ambassadors and Padminis but the technology & price point of Maruti 800 revolutionised the way the business of automotives was done in India,” admits a former employee of Hindustan Motors.

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