Digital takes a big leap for the auto sector this festive season

Industry heads say the split between ad spends on traditional and digital for the auto sector has almost reached the 50-50 point

e4m by Naziya Alvi Rahman
Updated: Oct 20, 2020 8:26 AM

As the economy struggles to tackle the hurdles posed by the coronavirus-driven slowdown, most sectors are pinning hopes on the ongoing festive season. The Navratri to Diwali season is particularly important for the auto sector as it usually records a significant jump in its sales during these 45 days. Marketers are now all out to woo potential buyers. 

Abbey Thomas, Head of Marketing at Volkswagen India, says this is the time of the year when they do a 360-degree campaign. “It has been a different kind of a year, especially for our industry. But it has also been a major opportunity to do our business and communicate in an out of box manner. The market is bouncing back and is on the way to recovery. The festive period is going to be very critical. This is the time for us to target customized offers to our consumers as Q3 is extremely important,” Thomas told exchange4media. 

But with Covid still around and most people being confined to their homes, what new ways are marketers looking at to spend their funds while ensuring maximum ROI. 

Vivek Srivatsa, Head - Marketing, Passenger Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors, whose newly launched Altroz is one of the most visible brands during the ongoing IPL, says pandemic has made them rework their plans with digital getting a bigger share as compared to previous years. 

“Before the pandemic, our focus was equally spread across mediums. However, given the current scenario – although we are uniformly present across, digital is leading the way for all as that is where most of the content is being consumed,” Srivatsa noted.

Vijay Kaul, DGM, Marketing & Communications, Yamaha Motor India Sales believes that digital will soon be at par with traditional spends. “Digital spends have increased drastically compared to last year. The digital pie to the overall spend has grown significantly. TV is used for quick reach whereas Print is used more for tactical use in this category which drives immediate walk-ins in select markets,” he added. 

Digital Vs Traditional

While most marketers continue to use traditional means of advertising, they all claim that digital has taken a much bigger pie in their media plans this year. 

According to Thomas, there has been a clear increase of a minimum 10-15% in the digital spends in 2020 for the auto sector. “Traditionally, we have been having a 60-40% kind of split. If we look into traditional media taking into account OOH, print and TV almost 65% is what we used to plan earlier. Then we have digital media that had about 25-30% in the pre-Covid times. Now the balance is very clear, it is almost about 50-50% each. Traditional media vs Digital media are almost equal in share now and in the coming years, digital’s share will even increase further,” he observed. 

For Srivasta, marketing round IPL is a perfect example of allocation of spends. “This year’s IPL is being watched by the audience on TV from the comfort of their homes and on designated digital platforms. Therefore, TV and digital have been our biggest bet. TV is helping us with a wide reach amongst the audience and digital medium is allowing us to engage with customers by giving them an innovative and immersive experience of the games. We are engaging with the audience and players across the above two mediums in a variety of ways. We have also developed a mobile game called the ‘Altroz Super Striker’,” he added. 

Kaul also claimed that with a visible shift in the consumption patterns of the consumers marketers are exploring newer plans. “Digital is largely skewed towards performance during the festive season. Budgets have been realigned this festive season to map the current consumer and market trends. We have been seeing a positive offtake August onwards, hence this festive season is very important to leverage with all our resources in the right mix,” he said. 

Changing consumer behaviour post COVID

Due to the pandemic, there are quite a few trends that have emerged and influenced the industry at large.

Srivasta explains how the lockdown has enhanced the need to be able to buy products from the comfort and safety of one’s home hence giving digital a big push. “This resulted in us launching our end-to-end sales platform - Click to Drive. This platform allows all to complete the entire car sales process digitally and has been well-appreciated by our customers nationally,” he added. 

He further highlighted how there has been a visible shift in preference towards personal mobility. “Consumers are now more cognizant about safety and are expecting the same from the cars they drive.  Additionally, we have noticed a clear shift in the car-owning pattern. While there is an increase in first-time buyers as people who were using public transport earlier are switching to personal vehicles, few customers are also looking at buying a second car in their family as a precautionary measure,” he added.

As for Thomas, Covid has made everyone careful about how they approach a purchase. “They want to see the car and drive the car. But several intermediary steps are involved in the entire purchase process. Which they probably would not get into. They would try to learn more about the product online first, understand the product completely, get some reviews about the product online as well and then get into a direct space of deciding to buy a car by shortlisting two or three cars that they probably have their minds on. So as much as possible they will try and limit the physical interaction and the showroom would be one space where you would be reaching out to the customers rather than inviting them completely and want the customer to jump into our showrooms. Our showrooms have advertised that they are sanitized and completely free of any risk that is involved. There was a huge campaign we had done for that almost four months ago informing consumers that we are very secure in our spaces. But customers would like the journey a bit more compressed as before.”

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