ADVERTISING in the automotive world is not just about jargonising and building a fantastical aura about the brand, many times, successful campaigns have to reflect current and future consumer trends to capture the buyer's imagination.
A case in point is the Wagon-R from Maruti Udyog.
Remember the `multi-activity vehicle' campaign that Maruti started out with for promoting the Wagon-R after the car was launched in 2000.
The MAV jargon and a couple of other brand positioning strategies later, Maruti is now set to launch a whole new advertising and brand building exercise for the Wagon-R.
For the six years since its launch, Maruti has always focused on advertisement themes that are different for the Wagon-R. Also, being the original tallboy that came in late and did not have any support from a popular brand ambassador, the Wagon-R's promotional campaign had to be offbeat to capture customer mind space.
Now, the new advertising and repositioning strategy for the Wagon-R is expected to, in essence, reflect the India growth story. The changing people , where more and more young people are shunning the trodden path when choosing their careers and are instead pursuing alternative (offbeat) options. This new attitude is increasingly reflected in innovative careers that are quickly becoming mainstream. The protagonists of Wagon-R's new TV and print campaign will feature young owners who have embraced new-age professions such as an investment banker turned adventure tourism entrepreneur, a KPO employee, a lady executive chef and a music director.
Maruti says that changing consumer trends, an increasingly younger ownership profile and the need to sustain the rapid growth in sales during the last two years had necessitated a need for a new long-term strategic direction for the Wagon-R brand.
Consumer insights gleaned through research and brand workshops jointly initiated by Wagon-R's advertising agency, Hakuhodo Percept and Maruti-Suzuki have supposedly revealed that typical Wagon-R customers were archetypal of the aspirations and new-found confidence that is evident amongst buyers in the country's urban markets.
Accordingly, the brand's new vision - celebrating the spirit of the changing Indian - is being differentiated from the usual brand positions found in the automobile category. It is free from references to competition, free of feature-driven positioning and has taken a stand that is in-line with its promise of being the most preferred urban compact car using attributes such as design, technology and reliable quality as supports rather than as the main proposition.
In addition to this repositioning strategy, Maruti officials say that there are other plans too for the Wagon-R including the launch of a new dual fuel variant that runs on petrol and LPG, which is expected to hit the road by March this year.
The Wagon-R has had a late pick up. While sales were a bit sluggish through the initial years after the launch, the car has found more acceptance during the last two years. Cumulative sales during the nine-month period ended December 2005 was up ten per cent at 62,550 units compared to the same period a year ago.
The new repositioning strategy with its tagline - the times, they sure are changing - borrows a few words from the legendary singer Bob Dylan, but it remains to be seen if the innovative new campaign can help Maruti sustain the car's growth momentum.