Here's why Tata Motors chose VR to sell trucks in International Markets

In a market that is dominated by giants like Mercedes, Volvo and Mitsubishi, Tata Motors is using VR to deliver a compelling sales pitch

e4m by Venkata Susmita Biswas
Updated: Feb 21, 2018 8:51 AM

Alert! There's a landslide ahead! How would you like to proceed? Accelerate? Brake? Yours truly makes up her mind and looks sharply at the word BRAKE on her screen. The eyes lock onto the word and the virtual click is done! The Tata Prima truck comes to a crisp halt and the rubble piles up centimetres from my eyes. Phew! Thank God, it's just Virtual Reality.

That is how Tata Motors is selling its Tata Motors' Prima range of commercial vehicles that are targeted at the international market. In a market that is dominated by giants like Mercedes, Volvo and Mitsubishi, Tata Motors is using VR to deliver a compelling sales pitch. The Formidable 4 campaign showcases the versatility of the Prima Platform across terrains in four modular films.

While Tata Motors is a market leader in India and the number one brand in South Asia, the brand is largely a challenger brand in other markets like Africa, Middle East, etc. "The challenges for an MNC brand entering the Indian market is very different from an Indian brand going overseas to establish itself," said Rudrarup Maitra, Head-International Business, Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors. "Being ahead of the curve and using a fairly new technology helps cut the formality away in a meeting and gets us instant recall," he added.

The Prima Platform was first launched in UAE followed by Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa. In these markets Tata Motors was faced with the challenge of breaking through the clutter of international brands. "The VR experience would give prospective clients an experience that is not just immersive but also stays with the person and ensures that the client remembers some of the features that are relevant to the client. This allows our account managers to say: forget about the sales pitch, I want you to see something," he said.

In the international market, Tata Motors is pitted against expensive Japanese and European vehicles that are renowned for their premium technology, low-priced good-looking vehicles from Chinese companies and the second-hand market. Competing in this broad spectrum meant that Tata Motors needed to find a niche for itself that distinguishes it from the rest of the brands in the market. "We found a sweet spot called value-trucking. We toned down a lot of the features of the vehicles without taking away the premium-ness of the trucks," said Maitra.

Selling commercial vehicles is a completely different ballgame from selling passenger vehicles. "Selling a car involves appealing to a person's likes and dislikes, aspects of status, ego, imagery, etc. For commercial vehicles, it's very simple: Return on Investment," stated Maitra. Explaining to clients that the Prima trucks are not just fitted with state-of-the-art technology but also come with customisation by duty cycle that can reduce operational costs by 5 per cent, is not always easy. "There are multiple decision-makers in the commercial vehicle ecosystem. Not all of them are tech-savvy and understand the vehicle's features," said Maitra. A VR experience that is immersive and explanatory assists in making the sales pitch in such circumstances.

While creating a VR experience for four different vehicles that are meant for different terrains may have pinched Maitra more than he would have liked, he is confident that the return on investment for this venture is very high and worth every penny. "Next time I will make sure they charge us half as much," he joked.

Ogilvy Digital conceptualised and created the VR experience that is enhancing Tata Motors' sales pitch. (Having heard Tata Motors' challenge in the market) "We came up with the smartest way to sell a truck," said George Kovoor, Group Creative Director, Ogilvy Digital, Mumbai. The VR solution has taken on new avatars within Tata Motors with every person who encounters it wishing to use it for a different purpose. "From being used for sales pitches, it is now at the auto expo in Delhi and there are thoughts of using it to educate truckers," Kovoor added.

Eventually, Ogilvy Digital and Tata Motors would create a gallery for clients to test drive commercial vehicles. "The vision is that the online gallery will showcase different products and features. Since it is a modular format, as we go further, we will add more capsules of content to view and experience," said Namrata Keswani, Head of Digital Domain, Ogilvy Digital, Mumbai.

"The current iteration that we are at right now will need a couple of more things that need to be added to enhance the overall experience. I do believe that VR is how people will like to experience things in the future," said Maitra.

We hear that the success of this venture is already creating waves within Tata Motors and has got the India commercial vehicles team excited to try out the VR experience with their clients as well.


Agency: The Ogilvy Team

George Kovoor- Group Creative Director
Nitin Kerur- Associate Creative Director
JiteshRaut- Associate Creative Director
Yash Kulkarni- Sr. Copywriter
AjinkyaGhorpade- Visualizer

Account Management:
Namrata Keswani- Head of Digital Domain
Sujay Srivastava- Client Servicing Director
JuhiWadia- Account Executive

Anirban- Sr. VP & Head of Planning
Aakash Singh- Planning Director

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