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An Unforgettable Experience Of Tata Cars

In an interview, Vivek Srivatsa, head of marketing, Passenger Cars, Tata Motors, talks about the auto giant’s innovative approach to attract young customers, boost sales, and improve experiential marketing

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With Tata Motors’ latest offering Tigor, the company is targeting young buyers — a demographic it did not aggressively pursue earlier — through both offline and online experiential marketing. The impact is visible in the growing sales of its new product. In an interview with Ruhail Amin, Vivek Srivatsa, head of marketing, Passenger Cars, Tata Motors, talks about the auto giant’s innovative approach to attract young customers, boost sales, and improve experiential marketing

How is digital redefining the marketing game for auto players?  
Digital is changing the game constantly. Close to 92 per cent of car buyers go online to get information about cars. Now they don’t need to visit the showrooms; around 80 per cent of people who are in the process of purchase go online to look for the best deals. A customer may be in our showroom, but he is simultaneously checking the best prices available online. We now have a more informed customer and a smarter one to deal with.

What are the important purchase trends in the auto industry today?
If you look at the trend a few years ago, the most important factor for buying a car was fuel efficiency and the cost of ownership. But in the last couple of years, things have changed quite a bit. Today, the number one reason to buy a car is the design of the car. So from a functional benefit, which was fuel efficiency, it has changed to an emotional parameter that is the look of the car. It is a big change that we have seen unfold, and this shift has also impacted the way we market our cars today.

When we recently launched Tigor, although it is a sedan, which has become a conservative segment and mostly attracts families, it surprisingly found a huge traction with youngsters too.
Almost 43 per cent of our Tigor customers are less than 35 years old. So, at Tata Motors, we are constantly attracting younger customers by communicating and developing products that appeal to them.  

How is the role of AI and big data impacting customer acquisition in the auto sector? 
Tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, etc., are aiding customers in terms of search and also helping manufacturers understand  customers better.

At the same time, manufacturers are also investing in technology in the form of websites and digital platforms. In most cases, integrated platforms are being developed where all the digital activities converge onto the website. If somebody comes on Twitter, he is directed to our website and we know what kind of a customer he is.

Similarly, if somebody contacts our call centre, we are able to integrate the information and develop a very rounded profile of the customer. Even if he has just one touch point anywhere on digital, we are able to link his entire background and understand and serve the customer better.

What kind of innovations is Tata Motors undertaking in the offline space to promote its new products?    
In the offline space, it’s essentially about experience. On digital, customers lack the touch and feel of the car, and Tata Motors is increasingly going in the direction of experiential activities. We want the customer to touch, feel and experience the product in a completely new way. We began that very strongly with Hexa. We opened Hexa experience centres so customers could experience our cars in ways they couldn’t with their own car.

Could you share insights from your recent Tigor campaign?
The biggest success of the campaign has been the fact that we are able to attract much younger buyers now. It is a demographic we haven’t attracted so far. We managed to do that because right from the development process, we decided that Tigor will stand out for the kind of emotional appeal it will have for customers. The campaign has managed to highlight those aspects well and it reflects in the high number of sales for Tigor.

How has the booming used-car market impacted the sales of new auto products?
I think, if the used-car market gets organised, it will help the new car market too. Currently, in the used-car market, you have a lot of unorganised players. There is no clear indication of re-sale value. Once it gets organised, it will encourage people to change their cars more often. This is the trend that we see across the world. In fact, an organised used-car market is the best fuel for the growth of the new car market.

What marketing strategies are you adopting to stay ahead of the competition?

Firstly, when it comes to online promotions, we want to give our customers an unforgettable experience of the car. Whether it’s a 360-degree drive on the website or through an app, the customers should experience the complete demonstration of the car. So it is like a seamless experience that ensures the customer does not miss anything as far as product experience is concerned.

We are also strongly promoting online booking of our new cars. So far, we have witnessed a rise in the number of people who want to book their car online, and with Tigor there has been a significant increase in this trend. Moreover, we have tried to make a complete purchase process online right from enquiring about the car, to getting a demonstration, having virtual test drives, interacting with our executives online and booking the car.

What are the AdEx trends as far as Tata Motors is concerned?
This year, with the launch of Hexa, we spent a lot on offline experiential marketing. In fact, more money was spent offline than online. I don’t think digital marketing as a percentage is growing. Ideally, it should be between 5-10 per cent, however, what we are witnessing is a definite change.

Today, I would spend more on technology, on factors that can help customers experience the offering better, rather than traditional promotional elements such as banner ads etc.