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Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Editor-in-Chief
Dr. Arindam Chaudhuri
A.Sandeep Editor's Desk
A.Sandeep
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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
 
Around the same time, there was an issue between the shareholders too. Do you believe that it was a setback to the company?
There was a time when there was a rift between the shareholders and we did lose out. But it is a story of the past now. Moreover, it was a temporary phenomenon and as both partners i.e. Suzuki and the Indian government responded maturely, it ensured that neither Indian consumers nor the Indian automobile growth story suffered.

Once the Indian government exited from the picture and Maruti became the subsidiary of SMC, what kind of changes did the company go through?
There were not many changes at the bottom level but yes, at the top level, decision making moved at a fast pace. When you are in a partnership, you need to ask the partner before finalising a decision but when you are alone, the process obviously takes less time.

After the issue was settled, the company made a strong statement with the launch of Swift followed by products like SX4, Ritz, DZire and now the Kizashi. Do you believe that the company is entering a new era of growth with the Kizashi?
The market itself is growing at a very rapid pace. We have reached a point where more and more people can afford cars, so there is no question of the industry not growing at this pace. If the economy continues to grow coupled with growth in the automobile industry, there’s no reason why Maruti will not match the level of the industry.

As the competition is trying to get its share in the small car segment, is the Kizashi launch a ploy to take the battle to a new segment?
Compact cars have had competition for a very long time now. However, what it is happening is that the competition has intensified with time. But it is not that the company is trying it now. In fact, when we launched the Esteem, there was no product present in India like that and we created that segment in the Indian market. It was followed by the Baleno, after which we launched SX4. With the launch of Kizashi, we have moved up a notch, wherein we want to show to Suzuki and our customers that Maruti can be a successful option even in segments, which were earlier not in its reach.

What are the main initiatives you are planning to take the company to the next level of growth amidst the high level of competition?
One key is the establishment of the engineering and R&D centre, so that we can manufacture models required for the Indian market in the Indian market itself. After it is in place, we will be able to incorporate more local needs into the design of the product. Secondly, we want to strengthen our sales and service network. The third action on the priority list is the training part for our employees, as a lot of training is required to keep the workforce on its feet and to keep it ready to face the competition.
 
“We are Looking for a Rub-off Effect”
New Product Launches & Digital Campaigns have helped Maruti connect to The Youth, but Shashank asserts that The Company doesn’t want to restrict itself to one segment

Maruti’s marketing journey has set many milestones in history and the company continues to attract the consumer with its out-of-the-box thinking. Apart from the ground breaking campaigns, the company has also made its presence felt on the digital marketing platforms with a view to attract the younger Indian consumers. Shashank Srivastava, Chief General Manager – Marketing, Maruti Suzuki India talks to pawan chabra on the mass market image syndrome and the importance of digital marketing for Maruti Suzuki going forward

Maruti has always been associated to an image of a small car maker. In what ways has its worked in favour of and against the company?
It was when we launched the Maruti 800 back in 1983 against products like Ambassador and Premier Padmini that Maruti gained a very aspirational image among the Indian consumers. Against the counterparts, Maruti was considered to be a very light, fuel-efficient and technologically ahead product and the scenario continued till the Zen was launched in 1983. However, when the economy was liberalised in 1991 and the competition started to make its presence felt in the mid-90s, the image of Maruti took a slight beating. Although, the volumes kept on growing as the market was growing at a rapid pace, with Hyundai launching its Santro and Daewoo coming up with Matiz and Cielo, the image of Maruti became more of a mass-carmaker among the consumers. For instance, when Santro launched its car with a power steering, Zen was not available in the power steering and hence the Santro outran the Zen in a small time-frame. At that time, Maruti was considered to be a reliable, fuel-efficient and value for money car maker but also perceived to be a bit technologically backward as compared to the competition.

          
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