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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
Today, the company has seven products in the small car segment alone and with the recently launched products like Kizashi and SX4 Diesel, it is now touching segments where it was not present in the past. The flip side of the coin is, other manufacturers are also vying for taking their share out of the lucrative small car segment. While Toyota will soon launch its Liva, Honda is also gearing up for the launch of Brio in 2011. Moreover, auto majors like Volkswagen, Nissan, Renault and even Bajaj are getting more serious about the A2 segment by the day. But as Srivastava says, “The competition has helped us stay on our toes and grow at a rapid pace.”

One typical rule in marketing jargon is that the pioneer’s advantage is not inevitable, if a late mover can take up a value proposition that the pioneer cannot provide. With a market share of 48% as on April 2010-January 2011 (as compared to 90% plus before competition set in), Suzuki has lost much over the years, but it’s hold is still largely unquestionable. As it leaves its glorious legacy behind, the leader realises that it can’t leave any gaps in today’s market, where obsolescence doesn’t take too many years to arrive anymore. The price for ignoring this reality is too high, but for now, Suzuki hardly looks the company that may have to pay.

By : Pawan Chabra

“Competition Isn’t New to Us”
With an Experience that Spans over 25 years with Maruti Suzuki, Chairman R. C. Bhargava has seen The Brand ride through the rough & the smooth. He discusses Maruti’s Evolution & Competitive strategies with Pawan Chabra

The man has seen it all from the 1980s till date and from the 800 to the Kizashi. There couldn’t have been anyone better than R. C. Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki to share the brand journey of the company. He shares the secrets behind the success of the brand and how he sees the market leader moving forward with the new realities in this exclusive conversation. Some edited excerpts...

Even though, Maruti started its journey with a Japanese partner and eventually became a subsidiary of Suzuki Motor Corporation, it has always been very close to the heart of the Indian consumer. According to you, what has led to such a scenario?
Ownership of a company has very little to do with the acceptance of the product or the brand. No one is bothered about who owns the company; people are bothered about what that product or brand gives to them. Be it in terms of value, service, durability or satisfaction, I don’t think brands are related to the owners. There are some more popular brands in India that have foreign ownership. For instance, one of the most popular brands in India, Colgate, has over 70% of the market, but its parent company is not of Indian origin or may be Dettol for that matter as well. The thing that matters the most is what that company offers to the consumers rather than the ownership of the company. But as the brand Maruti is too close to the Indian consumer, people have become loyal to the company and not to a product. Then what happens is that when they are looking for the next product, they start looking for it under the Maruti umbrella. So this feeling is very important.

Is it because of the fact that Maruti started its journey in India by offering products, which were needed by the country?
People wanted a small car at the time when we launched the 800 into the Indian market. In fact, in many ways, I believe that we have given things to the consumers, which were way beyond their expectations.

After the Zen was launched in the early 1990s, players like Daewoo and Hyundai entered with their small cars just a few years later. How did you tide over that time?
Till 1993, there was no competition at all as Hindustan Motors and Premier was not really competitors. The industry started to grow at a rapid pace after it was delicensed in 1993 and competition started to move in. After that, the level of competition has been increasing throughout in a gradual manner, but despite that, no brand has come anywhere close to Maruti, and almost all global brands are present in India. This truly reflects the fact that we give consumers what they are looking for.

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