This year, students about to pass out of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and some other premium business schools received a surprise from Maruti Udyog Ltd, the country's car market leader.
It was a personalised card that would get them a discount if they bought any of Maruti's cars upon joining their — presumably plum — jobs.
This scheme, along with a bevy of others launched in recent months, accounted for as much as 16 per cent of Maruti's sales in April and May this year.
The company, which sells 45,000-50,000 cars a month, has started a number of innovative schemes in its attempt to increase the penetration of its cars.
For instance, in the last four months alone, the company has started offering special deals to employees of insurance companies (Premium Wheels) and government employees (Wheels of India).
It has also modified its earlier exchange scheme for two-wheelers under which the two-wheeler was taken as the down payment for the car. The company has changed the scheme from Do Ka Char (Four for Two) to Do Aur Char (Two and Four).
“We realised that many customers preferred to keep their two-wheelers as they were wary of the cost of running a car. There is no exchange of vehicles under the new scheme,” said Maruti Managing Director Jagdish Khattar.
Under the modified scheme, one need not trade in the two-wheeler; one still gets a discount.
The genesis of these schemes, whose number has been burgeoning, lies in the tentative first steps that the company took by offering a special scheme for school teachers some six months ago.
Maruti executives say the “customer verticals” approach has roped in the fence-sitters among potential buyers.
The scheme for teachers alone fetched sales of over 10,000 cars. The company is looking at re-visiting this programme, which expired in February this year. Curiously, Maruti's rivals have allowed it a free run in this endeavour.
According to a Tata Motors spokesperson, the company used to have a special scheme for government employees which has ended.
Hyundai Motor India has just one scheme, along with State Bank of India, which targets government employees with soft loans.