Key to modern marketing is telling brand story effectively: Charles Frump, Volvo Cars
Frump, MD, Volvo Cars India, tells us why the brand doesn’t spend much on marketing, the importance of India as a market, their future strategy and more
Volvo Car Group’s aim is to have fully electric cars account for half of its total sales by 2025. The company recently launched XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid and is confident that there is tremendous potential in the Indian market for electric vehicles. To strengthen its business in the country, the brand is taking the ‘Make in India’ approach further by setting up a plant in Bangalore and a warehouse in Mumbai.
exchange4media caught up with Charles Frump, MD, Volvo Cars India, to understand why the brand doesn’t spend much on marketing, the importance of India as a market for them, and their future strategy. Frump also talked about the luxury car market in India and the reasons behind the auto sector seeing a decline in the past few years.
Automobile sector has witnessed its worst phase in the last seven years. How do you see the future prospect of the Indian automobile market?
The consumer sentiment is down due to multiple factors such as 2019 being an election year, BS6, sluggish real estate and stock market. Volvo Car India registered 31% growth in CY 2018 vs CY 2017, which made us the fastest growing brand in the market. This year, however, we would be happy to keep the same numbers as last year. I am very positive about the long-term horizon of robust growth.
India is a very price sensitive market and the sale of luxury cars is meagre compared to mass cars. Are you looking to build cheaper cars keeping in mind the situation?
No, Volvo Cars operates in the luxury segment and we do not have any intention to sell cheaper cars.
How do you rate the ‘Make in India’ campaign?
‘Make in India’ is a commendable initiative taken by the Indian government as it puts the country on the manufacturing map of the world. We are already assembling our popular models XC90, XC60 & S90 at our plant in Bangalore and aim to include more to this portfolio. We have also opened a parts warehouse on the outskirts of Mumbai to ensure just-in-time availability of spare parts for our cars.
Volvo aims to sell 1 million electrified vehicles worldwide by 2025. Which major markets are you aiming for and where does India stand in that line-up?
Electrified cars would be a combination of mild hybrids, full plug-in hybrids and full electrics. We are committed to shifting to electric cars, globally. Volvo Car Group aims to have fully electric cars account for half of its total sales by 2025. At present, it is difficult to say how much of these will be sold in India. But after the launch of our XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid, I can assure you that there is tremendous potential in this market.
Volvo is not a huge spender on marketing. Any specific reason?
We operate in a niche luxury segment, and so we believe in executing experiential and curated events for our customers and aim to engage with them better. Another part of our outreach is digital. We all know that shopping for a car happens on Google first. Volvo Cars’ marketing & communications programmes include taking up cause-based approaches. The key to modern marketing is communicating your brand’s story effectively and keeping prospects engaged.
India is among the countries that see very high number of road accidents. Volvo Cars, on the other hand, is globally known as a safety leader. According to you, what needs to be done to make Indian roads safer for car buyers?
India accounts for 1,50,000 fatalities in road accidents every year, which is 10% of the global figure. This is disturbing data, to say the least. While the reasons for road fatalities are numerous, I would like to talk about how cars can be safer for occupants and pedestrians alike.
Wearing a seatbelt is a must, even in the rear. This should be demonstrated by videos on how occupants can be safe by just wearing seat belts. Volvo Cars invented a three-point seatbelt and gave it to all other car companies royalty-free. Since its inception 60 years ago, seatbelt is considered the most important factor in saving lives.
Another is passive safety features: The policy on automotive safety has come a long way in mandating airbags & ABS. We would also like to see other technologies such as Whiplash Protected Seats, Side Impact Protection System Roll-Stability Control, Run-Off Road Protection. These are standard equipment across our car range. It is now time for the policy to include collision avoidance technology such as Automatic Brakes, Adaptive Cruise Control, Cross Traffic Alert and Steering assist on Lane Mitigation. Volvo Cars is the only car company that had these radar-assisted preventive safety technology that helps avoid collisions.
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