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Ashok Leyland changing the truck market: Nitin Seth

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Ashok Leyland changing the truck market: Nitin Seth

Something like after-sales service is given in the cars business but Ashok Leyland is trying to provide the same in the trucks business too, said Nitin Seth, Executive Director, Ashok Leyland at the Pitch CMO Summit 2012 – South, held in Chennai on Friday.

Seth was speaking while giving his Keynote Address on: Marketing Challenges in the B2B Space.

Seth started with saying that he has spent a major part of his career selling cars; after moving to Ashok Leyland, he realised the challenges in selling trucks as one wasn't speaking to a single consumer but entirely a B2B market such as transporters who deal in the business.

Trucks are important part of the supply chain in the economy and need to be upgraded with facilities and comfort for the driver. Something simple like a follow-up after a sale and service of the truck, which Ashok Leyland has started doing, is pleasantly surprising the drivers and the owners, Seth said, adding that today even truck drivers expect on-road and on-demand quick service from the company. These things, he said are a basic hygiene in the cars business and the industry has been doing it forever. However, in the trucks business nobody was giving that service till now.

“We are selling at a 15 per cent premium, while my competition is selling at a discount, yet we are changing the market and so better we give the drivers more facilities,” he said.

Trucks are being used for dual purposes. During the day the truck is used for transporting goods, in the evening, the driver takes his family out. Till now trucks just had two seats in the front. But Ashok Leyland is putting three seats in the front, so that the driver can seat his wife and kid too, Seth said.

He rued the fact that while cars have studies such as JD Power, which talk about customer satisfaction on various parameters, there was no study for the trucks business.

He said that 80 per cent of the cars have air-conditioners and power-steering, so why shouldn't the trucks. Ashok Leyland is changing the market by providing these simple features.

Also, the company has started selling accessories at its dealer network only, rather than letting the driver buy from outside. A simple thing like stereo, which comes pre-fitted in a car, doesn't come in a truck. “We have started selling stereos at our showrooms itself. The driver is assured of the quality rather than getting it fitted from the roadside,” Seth said. The stereos are being sold at a reasonable price.

“We need to give the truck driver a ladder, and we need to graduate,” Seth said, adding, “the competition is going to be stiff in the next five years and we need to start talking to people.”

He gave an example of the buses where people travelling, for instance, from Pune to Mumbai. These travellers didn't say that they were travelling in an air-conditioned bus; they rather said that they were travelling in a Volvo. “They are using the brand name,” Seth said, adding, like Volvo changed the bus business, Ashok Leyland, similarly is changing the dynamics of the trucks business too, and competition already is opening its eyes to that.

Ashok Leyland is largely known in South India. It has to take its name to the north as well. The company recently hired Mahinder Singh Dhoni as its brand ambassador. Will Dhoni help the company sell trucks? Seth said that Dhoni wasn't there to sell trucks. He has been hired to make people aware about the brand value Ashok Leyland stands for.

The Economic Times was the title sponsor of the Summit and TV 9 was the associate sponsor. It was supported by Ad Club Chennai and Ad Club Hyderabad.

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