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“Being a preferred brand is better than being a market leader!”
In an Exclusive interaction with 4Ps B&M, Arvind Saxena, Director – Marketing & Sales, Hyundai Motor India, explains why using digital media & corporate campaigns is increasingly becoming more important for automakers in India
A year-and-a-half back, questions were being asked about whether Hyundai – the #2 player on Indian roads then – can retain its silver crown in the times to come. Since then, it’s been a not-too-happy year for the Indian auto market. Strangely, for Hyundai, the story has been quite different. Today, the automaker remains a strong #2 in the Indian market, with a market share of 15.62% (April-Nov 2011) – still a few long leaps ahead of Tata Motors. Numbers appear pretty for the Korean giant. In the first eight months of FY2011-12, while unit sales in the passenger vehicles industry shrunk by 0.5% y-o-y, that of the company grew by 4.5%! Many praise Hyundai today. And that includes even those who would have once bet on the horse that would have signalled a quick end to the fiery start that the Chaebol got with the Santro in the late-90s. A decade and a half later, Hyundai has metamorphosed into a full-fledged auto major, with offerings across the platform (from Micro-cars to SUVs). What the carmaker has managed well is to alter and match frequencies with that of the changing Indian consumer’s. And we reckon, it still takes this pat on the back with a dash of warning. The taste of the Indian consumer has not stopped evolving. And the company realises this. Little wonder that despite great success at launches, it is currently busy working on a marketing strategy to stay relevant in the market. And this, involves connecting with masses, who live in what we call “the world of digital media”. Arvind Saxena, Director – Mktg. & Sales, Hyundai Motor India gives 4Ps B&M his action plan for the New Year. Edited excerpts:

Hyundai was tagged as one of the most aggressive players at the 2012 Auto Expo, with an exciting product line up coupled with intelligent usage of digital media. Why a sudden preference of digital?
The design of our stall was one that you would see in all our global initiatives, giving the Hyundai pavilion an international appeal. It was however clearly divided into two sets based on our new positioning statement: ‘New Thinking, New Possibilities’. The concept cars that were on display expressed our ‘new thinking’ while the upcoming models denoted the ‘new possibilities’. In addition, there were other sections – one for reinforcing Hyundai’s strong association with sports and another for Hyundai’s association with the film Don 2. And digital media usage was all a part of this master plan. We integrated our displayed products with mediums like Facebook and Twitter as the modern young consumer of today is mostly present on the social web and speaks a very different language. For instance, if a visitor registered at the Hyundai pavilion, he was gifted a buzz card, which if he swiped at the buzz station of the product, information about his visit to the expo would have been uploaded on his Facebook wall. We believe that such experiential mediums do help companies build an interactive bond with the consumers.

But what is it that makes digital media’s usage critical for automakers? And how serious really is Hyundai about the social web?
We started our journey with social media with the launch of the new Verna in May 2011. Hyundai India today has close to 2,00,000 fans on Facebook and by the end of the Auto Expo, hope to add another 70,000-80,000. We have now integrated all our fans under the Hyundai banner. So the intent with social web is very target-driven and planned. Two years ago, our spend on social media was just 2% of our marketing budget. Today, it is as high as 8-10%. Doesn’t this give an idea of how serious we are with social media? In short, social media is a must for a brand like Hyundai.

You recently launched a new TVC focusing on the ‘New Thinking, New Possibilities’ campaign. How has been the response to it and what makes you believe that such corporate campaigns will work in your favour?
The recently launched TVC is our new global TVC campaign. It shows the freshness in brand Hyundai. It has been received very well by consumers in India. Such campaigns are important as they help to create a pull for the overall brand. If the consumer loves the mother brand, it is relatively easier to attract him to other brands under the same umbrella. Our strategy is to get a consumer on board as he purchases his first car, say the Eon, and keep him with us till he buys Santa Fe (the most expensive in our portfolio). On average, a person purchases 3-4 cars in his life and since Hyundai has a strong portfolio across segments, it is necessary for us to launch corporate campaigns in order to attract more consumers.

You’ve managed to hold on to the second spot since the late 90s. With competition growing, how do you plan to defend your market share in the quarters to come?
We will. Even today, we are trying to expand our market share and if not expand, then at least retain it at the current levels. As you mentioned, competition in the industry is growing by the day with umpteen brands present in the country. But we will try hard to not lose market share. At the end of the day however, being a preferred brand is better than being a market leader!

Hyundai’s Eon has been a runaway success in India. Any lesson you learnt with that launch?
Yes, many. But the most important being that even when it comes to an entry-level car like the Eon, Indian consumers are looking at design and advanced features – something unimaginable even a decade back!
Pawan Chabra           
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