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"Marketing is not only about selling a product" – Arun Siddharth, TVS Motorcycles

16-May-2016
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"Marketing is not only about selling a product" – Arun Siddharth, TVS Motorcycles

The Indian auto sector has been growing at a decent pace in recent times. Bike manufacturers are making profits and the automobile industry seems to witness consistent growth. In such favourable times, TVS motors grew at a modest 21.6 percent year on year with consistent numbers through previous quarters. The two wheeler manufacturer capitalized on its popular bikes like the TVS Apache and Victor as it continues its efforts to push the sales further.

We spoke to Arun Siddharth, Head of Marketing, Motorcycles, TVS Motor Company to know about the company’s future strategy, current challenges in the sector, use of social media platforms to push sales and more.

Excerpts:

TVS has been in the market for around four decades now. How has the two-wheeler industry evolved over the years and how do you see its future?

Over the years, the Indian two wheeler segment has undergone significant changes, growing by leaps and bounds. To put things in perspective, let us look at a recent report by SIAM. In the month of April 2016, India produced 2.12 mn vehicles in all. Out of these, two-wheelers accounted for 79.5%, or 1.68 mn units in total. Today, India has emerged as the second-largest two wheeler market in the world.

From a consumer standpoint, gone are the days, when two-wheelers were perceived just as a sign of mobility. Two wheelers have historically been designed to provide safe, efficient and comfortable rides from point A to point B. Today, the two-wheelers have become a symbol of status; excitement and pride, while continuing to serve their original purpose. Overall, the future of two-wheeler industry in India for both motorcycles and scooters looks extremely exciting and promising.

A new TVC was launched for TVS Victor recently while the bike has been in the market for years. What makes you push a brand that is already doing so well?

For us at TVS Motor Company, marketing is not only about selling a product. As marketers, we understand that when consumers buy, they don’t just buy the product, they buy the brand. Therefore, consistent and creative marketing not only ensures sales, but also helps us drive the narrative of the company to the potential consumers as well as internal stakeholders of what we are, what we stand for and how do we want to engage our potential and existing customers with only ‘best-in-class’ products and service.

We wanted the central theme of the campaign to be 'Ride Comfort', a key attribute of the product that we want to highlight prominently. TVS Victor has been positioned as a family bike, engineered to deliver superior comfort to a family.

When it comes to social media platforms, TVS doesn’t seem to be very active. How would you explain that?

The very definition of marketing means that having a good product or service doesn’t guarantee sales. A good marketer understands that with a good product or service, a thorough research on the market trends, consumer demographics, mindsets and preferences are equally important. Moreover, it is essential to understand that marketing strategies do not follow ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. It is a continuous evolving and dynamic process and can vary from product to product. In line with this philosophy, we choose and pick up the best marketing mix and tactics for our product categories.

For our commuter and executive segments, depending on the intended TG, we have rolled out a healthy combination of print, TV and social media campaigns. In fact, in early February, we rolled out our Smartphone app to provide all necessary information on our product range and ensure real-time customer service, including service bookings, warranty queries, etc.

 For our Apache line of products, we have also deployed one-on-one WhatsApp chats for the customers to clarify any doubts, queries, etc. In fact just to dispel doubts about our social media activities, I would like to put out two simple facts:

1.       Apache today has more than 1.5 mn fans on FB from all over the world. It has a presence on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. We interact on Racing and Apache with our owners and prospective consumers. We might be one of the few companies that do consumer panels on digital to crowdsource opinions on marketing below the line initiatives and product development too.

2.       In case of Victor; we are in the process of increasing the awareness about the promise of Victor as a family bike and re-launching it as a bike positioned on superior ride comfort. In fact on YouTube our activity has already resulted in us reaching more than 2.5 lakh impressions on the commercial.

What is the marketing and creative brief for ad makers when you work on an idea for a TVC?

As I mentioned before, marketing strategies have to be designed keeping in mind the market conditions, trends, consumer psychographics, mindsets and preferences. Moreover, it is critical to understand that marketing strategy can never work in silos. All the market research needs to tie-back to the product narrative. For e.g. - We recently rolled out a pan India marketing campaign for TVS Victor. Prior to the launch, we realized that a lot of marketing campaigns focus on the rider. However, in India, a two-wheeler also tends to be a family vehicle. Therefore, all our campaigns- print, TVC, social have been conceived keeping in mind- the comfort of the rider and the family as the central theme.

Your Q4 revenues speak volumes about your market performance. What has attributed to this success and what should we expect over the next fiscal?

Yes, we have had a good run in the industry, so far. We believe a comprehensive product portfolio across various segments with a high focus towards engineering best in class quality and excitement into the product, with good market acceptance of our new products like the new Victor and Apache 200 4V has enabled TVS Motor Company to maintain a steady lead.

How is the auto sector today responding to the needs of the younger generation and how do you treat this potential?

At present, India has a huge base of young population with high net worth, disposable income and an increasing section of people for whom motorcycles are not just about mileage, but an opportunity to relive the passion of biking. Keeping in mind these market dynamics, two-wheeler manufacturers have to create differentiated portfolios that are able to cater to a wide range of consumers and their needs that could range from convenience, to pleasure, to comfort and mileage to racing ambitions. At TVS, we understand this and will continue to offer products which are technologically superior, provide exceptional consumer experience and complement our existing product portfolio, right from the commuter to premium segment. 

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