Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Highway Star

Anisha Motwani (Dir Mrkt – GM) on her article in ET mentioned about ‘bringing back the car spirit to life.’ She goes on to explain how marketers are obsessed with car features which often restricts them from exploring stronger brand ideologies out the territory of functional benefits.

The car market in India is evolving. More players are coming and consumers today are flooded with option. From a consumer point of view, they love extra features in their cars for the money that they are spending. Car purchase is an involved process, an indulgence, a reflection of the owner’s personality. But have car brands moved forward to match the car’s personality with that of the consumer’s. Well am not sure. A quick check at the recent car communication revealed this. I’ve photoshopped the brand logo. Can you differentiate?

Features, great car shot from every angle, nice background. Little boxes of feature shots of engines, power steering, alloy wheels, seating arrangement.

Let’s break clutter, bring a celebrity and brand will have a personality. A payoff of ‘Happy car, happy family’. Low EMI, 0% interest, 100% finance. Pffts.

‘Massification’ of catch phrases like “Go Fida” “Josh Machine” “That’s performance” “Daddy’s Biiiiiiiiiiiiiig Car,” “Pure Exhilaration.”

‘Where is the philosophy?’ as Ms. Motwani asks, I’ve just one question to ask her, isn’t your brand doing the same thing what you’re raising question about. TV is often used to build an imagery of the brand, so 'a lovely jingle with a newly wed couple holding hands,' or 'two top notch celebrity dragging their car over a cup of coffee,' do help in grabbing eyeballs and if consumers really buy-in to a philosophy, where is your brand's philosophy?

Worldwide car brands have managed to create a unique philosophy for themselves and millions of consumer has bought into that. Volvo for safety, Honda and the power of dreams, Nissan and shift_, Skoda and its obsession with quality, BMW and stability. Why not in India, are Indian car buyers any different from their western counterparts?

In a journey called life, it is the brands core value that walks hand-in-hand with its consumer. Indians will still buy car, the category will still rally price equity, newer models with more features will gain share but they won’t ever call themselves or their car a Highway Star.

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