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Marketing Interviews

Anisha Motwani

Director, Marketing | 14 Sep 2006

In addition to clutter breaking creatives, media is the key to driving marketing efficiencies. With escalating media cost, growing fragmentation and increasing noise levels in the media, the communication challenge is to break the media clutter to reach the consumer effectively. We constantly focus on maximising ROI through cost efficient touch points.

Anisha Motwani, Director, Marketing, General Motors India, is one of the few women holding a top position in the automobile sector. But the industry veteran with 14 years’ experience in advertising and an additional two years put in sales marketing, is not new to holding top positions.

Motwani has held various posts in leading ad agencies in India, including McCann Erickson, Mudra, Leo Burnett, and Euro RSCG. Motwani was with Leo Burnett for three years as Vice-President. Prior to joining GM, she was the Branch Head of Euro RSCG Delhi for more than a year.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Pallavi Goorha, Motwani speaks with unabashed pride about the Chevrolet brand in India, new launches like Aveo and SRV and the soon-to-be launched Aveo U-Va, and how GM has been able to create a strong position for itself in the Indian automobile market.

Q. What is the positioning of General Motors as a brand in India? Do you see today a distinct place for yourself in the Indian automobile market?

GM is one of the largest automobile manufacturers that successfully fulfils the transportation needs and aspirations of millions of people around the world. Most of this success came about from value and first class engineering embodied in the products offered. GM’s positioning in India is in line with its global stature. Chevrolet, our leading brand in India, represents a trusted automotive brand that offers leading value and innovations that benefit owners, resulting in the bow-tie logo being one of the most aspirational icons around.

Q. India is a price sensitive market. Your competition has developed customised products and strategy that appear to be working well in India. Do you have an India-specific product in the pipeline to cater to the high volume segment?

Chevrolet products are positioned as ‘great value’ products that offer best value-cost position over the ownership cycle. In each of the segments that we operate, Chevrolet products offer far greater value than the competing products. The year 2006 has seen the launch of Chevrolet Aveo in the volume segment. With the launch of Chevrolet Aveo U-Va later this year and Spark early next year, the GM portfolio will have a complete range covering the entire spectrum of the volume segment in India.

Q. What kind of a connect does General Motors India enjoy with the Indian consumer? How do you profile your typical Indian consumer?

The brand Chevrolet has old connections with India. Indian consumers still recall the old Impala and its Chevrolet parentage. Maharajas, freedom fighters and the common man – the Chevrolet has ferried them all. The bow-tie symbol has been an integral part of India’s automotive landscape from the early twenties till today. Chevrolet came to India in 1928 with its office in Mumbai and an assembly plant in Sewree, which was the first assembly plant by any automobile company in India. In the first year of production, 13,093 GM cars and trucks were built. The Chevrolet brand quickly proved trustworthy and dependable. As a result, a large number of Chevrolets were imported between 1918 and 1928. Even the Nawab of Hyderabad, considered to be the richest man in the world at that time, used Chevrolet Tourers as his official cars. Sadly, the years 1952-53 marked the end of an era for the Indian automobile industry.

Chevrolet was in the fray again in 2002. Since then, Chevrolet has been ruling the Indian roads with the Optra, the Tavera and of course, the Aveo and the sporty SRV added to its impressive line up now. The current Chevrolet portfolio encompasses lively urban city cars like the SRV and Optra to practical family offerings like Aveo and Tavera. The Indian Revolution has just begun!

Q. Do you have plans to launch any more cars this year?

We have planned to launch three news cars in 2006. Of these, Aveo was launched in March and the SRV was launched in July. The Aveo U-Va is set to debut towards the end of the year. All the three cars are international products with the latest technology.

Q. What is the strategy for GM’s car launch? What are the other innovations that GM is planning?

The Chevrolet range of vehicles offer good design, are fun to drive, present high value and above all, are dependable. Chevrolet has been positioned in India as a modern and sophisticated brand that is rooted in Indian values. The Chevy tagline ‘For a Special Journey Called Life’ encapsulates the world of Chevrolet – a world in constant motion, always turning towards tomorrow and never looking back. It’s a world without boundaries, accessible to all, and full of warmth, fun and emotion. All individual car launches in India, while embodying the values of the mother brand, have been customised to specific market requirements and customer needs. The focus is on creating a differentiated ‘positioning’ emerging from a unique consumer insight backed by intensive consumer research.

In addition to clutter breaking creatives, media is the key to driving marketing efficiencies. With escalating media cost, growing fragmentation and increasing noise levels in the media, the communication challenge is to break the media clutter to reach the consumer effectively. We constantly focus on maximising ROI through cost efficient touch points. Apart from the usual media of TV and print, Aveo was launched through content integration with high impact properties. For example, product integration with top rated channels and programmes like ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’, where Aveo was offered as the prize for the winner of the show. Aveo was shown in the programme, the anchor spoke about its features and benefits, and there was a lot of mileage given to the car. With all of this being integrated with the content, it was difficult for anyone to have missed it. The other integration that I would like to mention here was with ‘Kasauti Zindagi Ki’ on STAR Plus. In this serial, the key protagonist buys the car and gifts it to his daughter and he mentions various features like safety, comfort and driving pleasure. The ROI on such activities is far greater than the usual media.

Even in the case of the SRV launch, GM India had a differentiated marketing strategy. Given that the brand could not be slotted in any segment, it was necessary to precisely define the audience for effective reach as well as minimal spillovers. Thus, we needed to identify a communication mix, which would effectively reach the TG in a focussed manner. With the objective of leveraging the strengths of the Internet as a medium, for the first time ever the online space was used strongly as part of our digital marketing strategy to promote the launch of the Chevy SRV. An innovative, one-of-its-kind platform, www.srvchillzone.com, was launched to promote the SRV by targeting Net users and is a key part of our overall marketing strategy. The SRV Chill Zone is all about attitude, zeal and excitement, which are in total sync with what the SRV stands for. The website is highly interactive and takes the brand to the customers to drive an attitudinal fit with the brand.

Q. GM wants to create a market for the Chevrolet brands in the B and C towns. What initiatives are you taking in this regard?

With the launch of the Aveo U-Va this year and Spark early next year, GMI is set to enter the volume segment under the Chevrolet brand name. With this the demographical and geographical appeal base is set to widen. This would increase Chevrolet’s presence in B and C towns. Like any other category, distribution plays a very important role in determining the success of a brand. With the growth plans that GMI has, expansion of the network into B and C towns becomes imperative. The dealership network of GMI is set to cross 100 by the end of the year. Going forward, the brand strategy would be to take the Chevrolet awareness beyond current geographic and demographic boundaries while strengthening the brand in its current boundaries.

Q. What is the focus of the marketing activities of the Chevrolet brand?

Chevrolet is a brand that rests in the conviviality world. Hence, all the activities undertaken are all about living up to this world of sharing and enjoying the times with one’s loved ones. Chevrolet is a modern and sophisticated brand that is rooted in Indian values. It is about enabling memorable moments with one’s family and friends. The soothing and extremely lyrical ‘Chevy Alaap’ is the trademark property of all our communication.

Q. How do you think your brand ambassadors Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukherjee drive the mass appeal factor?

The Chevrolet Aveo is a new generation car with class leading performance, amazing looks and style. The brand has been positioned as an ‘inspired performer’, where every move is a performance, which is based on the consumer insight that the best choice is constantly getting redefined. We selected Saif and Rani as our brand ambassadors for the Aveo as they not only connect emotionally with the audience today, but also embody the two dimensions of performance and aesthetics, and substance and style plus class and exuberance.

Q. What is the mandate for GM India marketing to fulfil its vision?

The mandate for GM’s marketing is to strengthen Chevrolet’s equity and make it the most powerful brand in India.

Q. We haven’t seen much advertising from you on the TV front, any reason for that?

On the contrary, GMI has been extremely salient in the electronic medium during the first half of the year. We started off the year with a bang with the airing of the Optra VGIS-advantage ad. This was followed by the new Tavera campaign featuring Irfan Pathan and Zaheer Khan. The Chevrolet Aveo was launched in March. The TV campaign started with teaser ads featuring Rani and Saif. The entire TV campaign lasted about two months. And recently Tavera was back on TV announcing the launch of the Neo range of cars. Thus, GMI has been on TV right through the year.

Q. What role does perception play in one’s decision to buy a car?

Studies have shown that consumers move through the purchase process predictably. While choosing a car, for instance, they typically start by considering five or six models, adding some and dropping others as they proceed. The number of vehicles narrows as consumers move from awareness to familiarity to consideration to the test drive and, finally, to purchase. Brands pass through a ‘purchasing funnel’, in which products are subjected to new requirements at every stage of the selection process. Poor perception about the parent brand reduces the likelihood of moving from familiarity to consideration. At the stage of consideration, brands having negative perceptions of style, value or typical owner, tend to get dropped out. Further down the funnel, at the time of shortlisting, a weakening of initial consideration can happen as more information on the product is sought from friends, relatives, current owners, dealers and other sources. Thus, perception, in different ways, tends to influence a car buyer at every stage of the purchase process.

Q. Do you think the LPG and CNG cars are going to succeed in the market? Is GM planning to launch any of those cars?

With the oil prices on an upward spiral, any alternate fuel types have an inherent advantage over diesel and petrol. Nearly all global car manufacturers are working towards developing products which would run on alternate fuel types. GMI has recently launched a CNG variant of Optra in select cities.

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