The growing reach and relevance of digital media as a means to reach out to consumers is certainly making everyone sit up and take notice. The scenario is such that every sector now has designated departments and budgets for digital marketing, which only goes to show that no one wants to be left behind in the race for customer engagement. While the FMCG brands or e-commerce players are leveraging the medium, it is the passive players like the automobile sector that now want to use this medium to its full potential.
One such player, TVS Motors, recently roped in Nidhi Bhasin as its Head of Digital Initiatives. Bhasin was previously National Head, Digital Initiatives at Café Coffee Day, India, looking after its online and mobile marketing and before that she had worked with brands such as Google and YouTube.
In an exclusive interaction with exchange4media, Bhasin talks about how TVS Motors plans to leverage digital media going forth.
You are new at TVS Motors. What digital initiatives have you planned out and how important is digital marketing in the larger scheme of things at TVS?
I think we have now come of age and which is why I have been hired. The company has a huge focus on digital at this point of time. I think even until now the company has been very forward-looking. If you look at the products or the kind of innovations they have done, you will see that they have always had a long-term kind of vision. Even in digital, they were okay with waiting for a while, but once the market is right and they start their initiatives, they have a longer-term vision. I am pretty excited about that.
What would you want to use digital for?
Digital has become an extremely important medium now. As of now we are looking at metros and Tier I cities, but it’s only a matter of time till we also start looking at users from Tier II and III cities. In fact, we are already seeing great traction from those cities. Users from Tier II and III cities are becoming excessively tech-savvy. So, with the kind of product portfolio that we have and the kind of reach we have, it only becomes obvious to choose digital as a medium to communicate with these people.
One is to get our message across, and second is to make their lives easy. At this point, I want to be conveniently and easily reachable by customers, even if it is my moped customer.
Apart from email marketing or say social media, what other digital marketing tools are you planning to use for these objectives?
Right now we are in the stage of evaluating our customers. We want to know where our customer is and what is he doing. My message to them is important, but what is even more important is what are they interested in. We are trying to understand the user behaviour and then see what the optimum platforms are for us to be to reach them. So, we are looking at mobile, email, social media platforms and we also want to have an integrated web presence. We are also looking at third-party apps where we can collaborate.
For a company like TVS, does the online medium also become a source of lead generation or is it mostly a brand engagement tool?
It is already being used for lead generation without us doing anything. This is mainly because everyone wants convenience. So, people are themselves approaching us via the online option when they want to buy or book a test drive and so on. That is also one area that am looking to strengthen first.
So, e-commerce is also on the cards?
Absolutely! You cannot move away from e-commerce going forward. It is again a matter of convenience. If someone wants to buy a vehicle and most of the processes like loan, document collection, etc., can be done online, why wouldn’t they opt for it? We will definitely look at it.
As of now, out of your entire marketing budget, how much is being spent on digital?
I am afraid I can’t share numbers at this point of time. But spends on digital are growing at a rapid pace. In my experience, for the past two to three years, I have seen the digital ad spends going from a mere 2 per cent to 20 per cent, and this is only going to increase.
What are your main objectives for the next year or so?
In terms of digital initiatives, we are looking at the customer as well as the dealer. So, my first priority is to become easily accessible to the customer and the dealer. Secondly, since 50 per cent of the products in our portfolio appeal to the youth, who are the most Internet-savvy, we want to target that segment via our digital initiatives.