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Old 20th September 2014, 08:10   #1
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Default Maruti to focus on image facelift to go premium

India's largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki has decided to go for an image makeover.

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Maruti Suzuki the country's people car maker is going for an image makeover. India's largest car manufacturer known for selling value for money vehicles has decided to upgrade its offerings that will see the company go through a makeover- recruit sales staff from five star hotels and luxury car makers like BMW and Mercedes while having specialised manpower that is highly equipped in soft skills.

The buyers of bigger cars have higher expectations and do not buy car just for its competitive price or an attractive deal that we may offer said an official. Attributes like fuel efficiency, financing options and maintenance costs-essential for selling small cars do not hold too much weight in the premium segment. The company wants to change the sales talk or the pitch that is made for selling the vehicle.

Maruti is also looking at special options like taking the car to a potential customer's residence or office for test drives and product demos. The staff will be given behavioural training and will have highly evolved soft skills. The company will set up a core team of 1800 odd sales staff that will begin operations from the top 20 cities to start with.
Source: The Times of India

Link:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/b...w/42954370.cms

This is indeed a welcome step and I am sure that the rival car manufacturer Hyundai should also learn a lesson from them. This specialised set of core people should also be spread to service centres. I have personally seen that there is no difference at service stations. A person driving an Hyundai Eon or an Alto is seen getting the same standard of service when compared to the one who is driving an Maruti SX4 or a Hyundai Sonata or Hyundai Santa FE.

Last edited by mints21 : 20th September 2014 at 08:16. Reason: Adding info
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Old 20th September 2014, 08:50   #2
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Default re: Maruti to focus on image facelift to go premium

I would rather see my Ciaz be serviced at the same or not much higher costs than the Ertiga and without any fake soft-skills which have no cary through. In addition, many of the minor tweaks and repairs can now be done either at customer's location or even online, maybe the car-manufacturer should aim at that, rather than some cost increasing German "luxury" model.

In airline terms, an efficient Indigo is the aim, with some silent recognition and benefits for the higher end customers.
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Old 20th September 2014, 09:18   #3
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I think Maruti needs to badge their premium cars differently , in addition to this add a separate section in their current service centers and dealerships and call it something like ELITE section for their premium customers.

Trying to do all this with the existing mode of operation will just not be enough and I think they should try this out in places other than cities where luxury car sales are higher too.

This is almost the same thing what toyota did with Lexus or Nissan did with Infinity. They tried to distance themselves from their luxury Marques as far as possible and this proved to be very successful. Maruti needs to follow their footsteps if it wants to be successful.
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Old 20th September 2014, 10:58   #4
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Default re: Maruti to focus on image facelift to go premium

Hiring some sales team to rebrand their image is not going to pay off by itself unless the real changes are done.

First, they need to change the focus areas in design and manufacturing when they go to the higher segments. Some seemingly invisible things like the quality of plastics and thickness of sheet metal should not be compromised in order to under cut the competitor's price tag. Look at how safe the Fiat cars are after a head on collision and compare it with Maruti cars from same segment or even one level up. These are the things that define a perception and it is difficult to get it changed later.

In an effort to get respectable power output and acceleration numbers from puny engines, they resort to all sorts of cost-effective weight reduction techniques which are also compromises in a different way that doesn't help their premium image.

Those missing features in lower variants that are actually available in higher variants of their own cars two segments down is another piece that the customers don't really appreciate. Their higher variants were always having some shortfalls compared to their own lower models. There was a time when a Zen LXi had rear wiper but the someone upgrading to Swift VXi misses out the rear wiper. You need to pay another 1 lakh and get a ZXi if you want a rear wiper. Similarly, in 2008 when we were hunting for a Swift, Wagon R has electric ORVMs, rear wiper/defogger in VXi along with ABS and airbags as optional but the Swift that was one segment higher didn't have any of these except the optional ABS for the VXi variant! I never felt Swift as a premium hatch - simply because it was not one irrespective of what Maruti may call it. I agree that it is a big hatch. Just some sales rep saying something in fluent English is not going to change this fact. Things that are not too costly should not be skimped in the base variants of the higher segment cars. Again, under no circumstance should the equivalent variant in lower segment be better equipped than the higher model. All these were again applicable with Dzire-SX4 comparison after Dzire got the facelift and SX4 didn't.

Last edited by zenren : 20th September 2014 at 11:00.
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Old 20th September 2014, 11:15   #5
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Default re: Maruti to focus on image facelift to go premium

Really - they must be kidding! Or are they finding ways to kill themselves?
Who said cheap is bad - this is what has served them the butter on their nan till now!!!

The value quotient is high (or so is the perception). If they de-focus from it, others are very happy to eat from their plate!!
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Old 20th September 2014, 11:48   #6
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Default re: Maruti to focus on image facelift to go premium

Why? LEt them rebrand to be more exciting or innovative but Maruti make good cheap cars. Thats what they are all about!
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Old 20th September 2014, 14:11   #7
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Default re: Maruti to focus on image facelift to go premium

The issue with Maruti going 'premium' is shoddy build quality. If someone is paying 10 lakhs+ for a car the build quality expected is quite different from that of a Wagon R or Alto and the usual Maruti rattles after a few months or weeks of usage will be a deal breaker.

Unless they fix that basic issue and prove that their more expensive cars have quality on par with the competition, it matters little whether the salesman is dressed in a suit or in his underwear.
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Old 21st September 2014, 15:23   #8
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Default Re: Maruti to focus on image facelift to go premium

Hahaha, such kind of articles always have me

Classic case of pain being on the left hand and balm being applied to the right hand.

Maruti's bigger sedan (i.e. SX4) and 10+ lakh products failed NOT because of image, but because of product. Facts:

1. The SX4 was actually a good seller in the initial years. It was launched against the 2nd-generation Honda City (dolphin shape). Eventually however, the SX4's sales slowly declined, and it became a flop. Why? The product got too old! In the time that Maruti sold the SX4, Honda brought out two new generations of the City, VAG got the Vento / Rapid & Hyundai its successful Verna. The SX4 diesel also came much too late. And, by current standards, the interior quality is too cheap. Even the less expensive Dzire has better interiors than the SX4.

2. Maruti's premium products were destined to fail. The Kizashi was overpriced by 5 lakhs and didn't have a diesel option, while the Grand Vitara saw consistent price hikes and didn't have a diesel either. The Grand Vitara today is a 10 year old design! Who on earth buys a 10 year old overpriced product today? You're right....no one!

Hyundai didn't do anything magical to its image, neither did Mahindra. Yet, both these manufacturers saw success (Elantra, XUV500 etc.) in the 15 lakh segment, on the strength of the product alone.

Maruti's strategists must be smoking some pretty heavy stuff if they think image or fancy sales talk will sell their expensive cars. Ever bought an XUV500 lately? In fact, Audi showrooms are notorious for offering the worst sales experience, yet their cars sell. It's the product, stupid. And the product strategy is what you got all wrong (SX4 & up).

Quote:
Originally Posted by mints21 View Post
call it something like ELITE section
Call one section 'ELITE' means the other becomes 'CHEAP'. Not a good strategy. You don't discriminate between customers in the same showroom.

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This is almost the same thing what toyota did with Lexus or Nissan did with Infinity
Lexus' success formula lies in opening separate showrooms altogether, not separating customers in the same showroom.
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Old 21st September 2014, 18:35   #9
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Wink Re: Maruti to focus on image facelift to go premium

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Hahaha, such kind of articles always have me

Classic case of pain being on the left hand and balm being applied to the right hand.

Maruti's bigger sedan (i.e. SX4) and 10+ lakh products failed NOT because of image, but because of product. Facts:

1. The SX4 was actually a good seller in the initial years. It was launched against the 2nd-generation Honda City (dolphin shape). Eventually however, the SX4's sales slowly declined, and it became a flop. Why? The product got too old! In the time that Maruti sold the SX4, Honda brought out two new generations of the City, VAG got the Vento / Rapid & Hyundai its successful Verna. The SX4 diesel also came much too late. And, by current standards, the interior quality is too cheap. Even the less expensive Dzire has better interiors than the SX4.

2. Maruti's premium products were destined to fail. The Kizashi was overpriced by 5 lakhs and didn't have a diesel option, while the Grand Vitara saw consistent price hikes and didn't have a diesel either. The Grand Vitara today is a 10 year old design! Who on earth buys a 10 year old overpriced product today? You're right....no one!

Hyundai didn't do anything magical to its image, neither did Mahindra. Yet, both these manufacturers saw success (Elantra, XUV500 etc.) in the 15 lakh segment, on the strength of the product alone.

Maruti's strategists must be smoking some pretty heavy stuff if they think image or fancy sales talk will sell their expensive cars. Ever bought an XUV500 lately? In fact, Audi showrooms are notorious for offering the worst sales experience, yet their cars sell. It's the product, stupid. And the product strategy is what you got all wrong (SX4 & up).



Call one section 'ELITE' means the other becomes 'CHEAP'. Not a good strategy. You don't discriminate between customers in the same showroom.



Lexus' success formula lies in opening separate showrooms altogether, not separating customers in the same showroom.
Perfectly summed up everything, and I think this analysis should be forwarded to Maruti, if they are really serious about cracking the premium market. I seriously request GTO sir to kindly do so, as you might be having interaction with Maruti's head bosses.

I am a 4th year B.Tech student, still I don't need to go to a B-school to understand why premium Marutis have failed. I can guarantee, that even with a 10+ yr old design, Maruti can still make GV or for that matter, Kizashi a success. What Maruti needs to do-
1. Dump that ideology, that you'll test waters by launching a CBU and start production locally if demand is good. Unless pricing is good(unlikely with a CBU), a product will fail, and then you'll blame image for its downfall, really?
So, to make GV or Kizashi a success, start local production and price it competitively from Day 1. Indian market is too ruthless to give second chance-classic examples being Baleno and New Fiesta.
2. Plonk in a good diesel, like the 1.9 DDiS. A good product to sell consistently needs to have a differentiating factor.
3. Improve interior quality- Kizashi has a great interior, but GV looks seriously old inside. Spruce up the interiors periodically, like maruti does on its hatches(bread and butter models). SX4 was virtually unchanged while Swift had a full generation change after 6 years.

Just follow these simple steps, and see your premium offerings flying from the showroom. Even the GV and Kizashi WILL sell, which have been called as failures.



I can't believe that India's largest car maker is unable to understand such a simple thing.
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Old 22nd September 2014, 00:24   #10
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Default Re: Maruti to focus on image facelift to go premium

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Originally Posted by mints21 View Post
A person driving an Hyundai Eon or an Alto is seen getting the same standard of service when compared to the one who is driving an Maruti SX4 or a Hyundai Sonata or Hyundai Santa FE.
If this was happening, then everyone else should learn from them on how to treat customers.

Unfortunately the scenario is, people buying Altos, Sonatas, CRVs are all treated like, the sales person is doing a favor by selling these vehicles to them. It is this, they and most others, should change.
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Old 22nd September 2014, 08:32   #11
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Folks one point to note here remember what someone from the senior management (i don't remember the name) said in a press release related to Ciaz , something like " We have done our best to meet the standard of Honda City ". May be that is the best currently they can think of. Sorry no hard feelings.
Also the thread " Is maruthis service cheap , a myth " is very active with examples of cheap tricks being played by MASS regularly.
The brand is respected across the nation for many reasons and IMO they should stick to the basics to enjoy the customer base rather than try something fancy.

Cheers ,
pdma.

Last edited by pdma : 22nd September 2014 at 08:38.
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Old 22nd September 2014, 08:46   #12
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Default Re: Maruti to focus on image facelift to go premium

Maruti should raise the sales and service to premium levels without differentiating between cars. There are the only ones capable of doing it.

They are not making cars comparable to Lexus to segregate either dealerships or within a dealership.
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Old 22nd September 2014, 09:55   #13
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Default Re: Maruti to focus on image facelift to go premium

How can Maruti shrug the cheap-tag associated with the brand? Well for starters, they could provide a car with better plastics and safety features in the base-variants.

The news on the up-coming Swift Sport figures in their plans boost their image, I suppose.

I had recently visited a Maruti showroom in my locality to give the Celerio AMT a go and I was thoroughly disappointed. Not with the car.. it's not too bad at all. I was disappointed with the overall experience in the showroom. The sales-rep seemed very disinterested in shifting the product and to my amazement, he wasn't even presentable!

Maruti may be the biggest brand in the automotive industry. But with this attitude, they're only going to lose market share. Especially when you have players like Hyundai playing catch-up.
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Old 22nd January 2015, 12:36   #14
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Default Re: Maruti to focus on image facelift to go premium

Maruti to have its cars like Ciaz, upcoming releases like S Cross, CUV-YBA, Premium hatch YRA to be sold through its Premium outlets.
Existing dealers could upgrade to move to this or retain as the same delearship selling its 'low cost' models.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/...w/45827050.cms
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Old 22nd January 2015, 13:14   #15
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Default Re: Maruti to focus on image facelift to go premium

Quote:
Originally Posted by mints21 View Post
India's largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki has decided to go for an image makeover.



Source: The Times of India

Link:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/b...w/42954370.cms

This is indeed a welcome step and I am sure that the rival car manufacturer Hyundai should also learn a lesson from them. This specialised set of core people should also be spread to service centres. I have personally seen that there is no difference at service stations. A person driving an Hyundai Eon or an Alto is seen getting the same standard of service when compared to the one who is driving an Maruti SX4 or a Hyundai Sonata or Hyundai Santa FE.
A very welcome step and right thinking. Last month I walked into an MSIL dealership to explore an entry level hatchback for my wifey and was deeply disappointed by the way their dealerships present themselves to a potential buyer. I wondered what was the difference in experience today and 10 years back when I walked into another dealership to consider Swift. Answer was NONE.

Same old wallpapers/brandings on the walls (ok, the artworks might have changed), same old fascia signage, same old Pylon out there and moreover the same set (read profile) of the salesmen to deal with you.

I won't be surprised if Maruti's 'preference to buy' and 'purchase intent' parameters would have taken a serious dip over all these years amongst youngsters, young executives and metro working population.

Apart from "Petrol khatam hi nahi honda hai' film, I dont remember any other campaign by Maruti which has left a long lasting "brand" impression on me.

Though the business and market share numbers are still healthy for them, they have been long missing the opportunity of premium customers. Most of the blame goes to their single minded focus on "unit marketshare" rather than the "value marketshare". I haven't seen any other manufacturer's dealers cutting prices so much that MSIL dealers do for the sake of competition. They will even downgrade the customer's chosen model to sell a car to him/her by convincing on fuel efficieny / indian road conditions / traffic situation and "sir aapne kaunsa delhi se mumbai jaana hai har hafte?"

The effort will have to start from the bottom by training their employees/manpower to sell more efficiently (and not just on discounts/schemes), upgrading their dealer network to look more relevant and premium and focus their advertising strategy to upgrade the brand to look more youthful and peppy - amongst a host of many other herculean efforts. The biggest challenge will be to alter the mindset of the dealers or create new set of dealerships (which is not advisable though, IMHO).

Case in hand- Nano did that wonderfully with Twist!
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