The latest TNS study on four-wheeler brand health and need segmentation, released yesterday, said emotive needs such as potency, prestige, and status account for over 50 per cent of the car buyers in India.
Representing the responses of more than two thousand new car buyers providing over 8,000 evaluations, this study conducted by a specialist division, TNS Automotive, is a “first of its kind” initiative to understand the hidden motivations behind car purchase and customer perceptions of all available brands in India. Unlike traditional brand research studies where customers are questioned directly about their purchase reason, this study utilised a proven psychological framework to uncover the motives that drive brand selection, claimed an official release.
The study identifies six need segments in the Indian automotive market. “Contrary to the belief that prestige and status needs are pre-dominant among buyers of higher-end vehicles, the study clearly reveals that varying needs exist across vehicle segments,” Rajeev Lochan, General Manager (Asia Pacific) of TNS Automotive was quoted, “While prestige and potency related needs are the key motivators for entry luxury buyers, these needs exist across segments, including the cheaper small cars.”
The key drivers for the six need segments in India are summarised as: ‘Potency’ buyers – those motivated by a need to attract opposite sex and feel powerful; brand image of trendy and innovative looks appeal to this group. ‘Utility’ buyers, on the other hand, seek a need for basic transportation and care for family; value for money and cost of ownership are the benefits that these buyers associate with. ‘Prestige’ buyers are motivated by a need for prestige, indulge self, and exclusivity; they are least price-sensitive and desirous of latest or futuristic features in cars.
‘Adventure’ buyers seek fun and adventure and to increase popularity; SUV finds preference for these buyers who relate to their cars as ‘lover’. For the ‘Status’ buyers the aim is to show-off success and drive attention; superior craftsmanship and best technology are imagery issues that this group relates to. ‘Liberation’ is the smallest of the six need segments – these buyers seek increased freedom and latest technology; safety consciousness is relatively higher among them.
“It is apparent from the need segment drivers that a majority of motives are about what a consumer desires to communicate to the outside world based on the car he/she uses,” commented Lochan, “Therefore, it is vital to understand these underlying drivers for consumer behaviour and position brands accordingly instead of solely focusing on rational elements of purchase such as fuel economy and engine power.”
While brands cut across different need segments due to a similar identity, the varying degrees of ‘fit’ is determined by its soul or persona. Needs, such as adventure and liberation are more expressive, while status need is more subdued. Similarly, potency need is about self-assertion and more individual oriented, whereas prestige is more about affiliation and family oriented.
TNS took four leading carmakers to establish the preference factor according to the different need segments. At a rational-level, both Hyundai and Maruti find similarities on some of the rational brand drivers such as good fuel economy, easy to maintain, practical cars, and good after-sales service coverage. However, Hyundai’s persona is more expressive, while Maruti’s is more protective. Consequently, Hyundai finds a relatively better ‘fit’ with adventure and potency as compared to utility and status for Maruti.
In case of Honda and Toyota, superior craftsmanship is a key similarity for both the brands at a rational-level. However, Honda’s positioning is closer to the individual-oriented zone of self-assertion – reflected in one of its key motives of ‘feel powerful’. Toyota, in comparison, falls more on the expressive side with motives like ‘feel young’ and ‘for adventure and fun’.