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Brand Yatra: Audi drives in the luxury, but miles to go…

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Brand Yatra: Audi drives in the luxury, but miles to go…

Brand – Audi India
Agency – Grey Worldwide

Changing the meaning of ‘Luxury’

The luxury car market was just taking off in India when Audi was foraying into this market in 2004. It was in 2007 when Audi actually commenced its operations in the country with three dealers in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, directly importing cars from Germany.

Explaining how the meaning of ‘luxury’ had changed over the years in India, Martin Birkner, VP, Audi India, said, “Earlier, people who had money, used to spend it in buying gold jewellery or real state. Now, people are spending more on luxury brands, even luxury cars. Development in the northern part of India is very significant and is a good sign for brands like Audi. We came to India in 2004, but started operating only in the year 2007. From there on, we started establishing Audi as a brand with our network. We also started expanding our dealer network and currently have 15 dealers all over the India.”

Challenges - German to Indian

If big markets provide the opportunities, they also throw up challenges for newcomers. When Audi entered India, the big challenge was to make the brand known in such a vast and evolving luxury car market. Birkner believes that the Indian luxury car market is growing very fast. To make their brand known in a vast country like India is a big challenge and the bigger challenge has been to define the consumers who can buy luxury brands like Audi. He further said, “This apart, another big issue in India is taxation. Compared to other countries, taxes are very high in India. Higher taxes mean higher price of the product and it is really a big challenge.”

Bollywood and sports stars and corporate honchos have always been the target audience for luxury brands. When it comes to Audi, many Indian celebrities would like to own Audi and company has its clear focus on it.

Brand Positioning – It’s the same globally

Audi has not changed its international brand positioning in India and has continued with its tagline – ‘Advancement Through Technology’ – for India too. Birkner added that it was working well for India. He explained, “Our strategy is not different for India because Audi is an international brand and it should be same all over the world. Audi has always been innovative, modern and sporty. The single difference is the need and customer priority in India. In India, we are targetting elite people who have potential to buy such a luxury brand like Audi. We may have different TG here, but in terms of brand positioning, all over the world it is the same. We try and fulfil the need of the market and chauffeur driven customers sitting on the rear seat, who are our main TG.”

He further emphasised, “Our marketing strategy is also the same globally and even our advertisements are not different for India, though they have been made adaptable to the Indian media demands.”

Audi India - Achieving Targets

In India, the luxury market had been growing during the time of the slowdown and Audi felt positive effects of it in the country. In terms of milestones, Audi was able to achieve more than what it had targeted. “We achieved our target by selling a thousand cars in 2008 and in 2009, we sold more than 1,500 cars. This year, we are targetting 2,300 cars,” Birkner informed. He further said, “We have achieved many milestones over the years. One big achievement has been the expansion of our dealer network, which shows growing volume of the brand.”

What next?

Meanwhile, Audi is participating in a lot of ground events. It had partnered with the recent Bollywood release, the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer ‘Teen Patti’. “We always look for innovation in terms of our marketing strategy. We are engaging our brand with Bollywood movies because once a brand becomes an icon, people opt for it. To make our brand more visible, we always try and find new places for product launch,” Birkner said.

Speaking on the future plans of Audi India, Birkner said, “This year, we will launch Audi A8 and our marketing plans would be focused more on this product. We will start the production of Audi Q5 at our Aurangabad plant. Our focus is more on mega ground events like the Wills Fashion Week and on digital media. We would like to be more consistent in our ground activities. Step by step we will get into more events.”

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