Our customers are our brand custodians: Manohar Bhat, Kia Motors India

Manohar Bhat, Vice President and Head – Sales and Marketing, Kia Motors India talks on the big highlights for 2020, marketing mix and others

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Updated: Jan 14, 2020 10:18 AM
Manohar Bhat

At a time when brands are racing to encash on the popularity of sports worldwide, Kia Motors is not too far behind. With a lot of smartphone brands venturing into sponsoring and endorsing sporting events, Kia has been a global custodian of sports, partnering various global sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup and Australian Open. Through the partnership with AO for the Australian Open Ballkids International Program, FIFA for OMBC (Official Match Ball Carrier) program and Bengaluru Football Club for Indian Super League, Kia has encouraged millions of sports enthusiasts in India and have created a unique fan base.

Being fairly new in the Indian market, Kia Motors made a conspicuous roar with its first launch Seltos, which left behind many established brands under the segment.

Exchange4media had an interaction with Manohar Bhat, Vice President and Head – Sales and Marketing, Kia Motors India on the big highlights for 2020, marketing mix and others.

Also Read: Our goal is not to be No 1 or No 2: Manohar Bhat, Kia Motors India

Edited Excerpts:

What could be the big highlights for 2020?

The year 2019 was a great year for Kia Motors as we started the first manufacturing facility in India and commenced mass production in August 2019. We are looking forward to two big launches in 2020. The first will be a luxury MPV launch, which will be a debutant in the luxury segment followed by an SUV launch after a period of six months. We will be keeping up with the promise of launching a car every six months.

As we are fairly new in the automobile industry, our focus is to expand our reach across the tier 1, 2 and 3 markets.

What is your marketing and advertising mix?

Kia Motors primarily focuses on digital and television commercials as we believe that online platforms are more effective mediums in terms of reach and engagement. As mentioned earlier, we will be launching two big brands, so the audience will be seeing a lot of action from us in the media space, especially the digital and your TV.

Like many smartphone brands have ventured into sponsoring and endorsing sports, will Kia Motors too be encashing on the popularity of the sporting events?

We are already into a lot of sporting activities. Kia is the major sponsor of the Australian Open, official automotive partner of FIFA – the governing body of the FIFA World Cup – and official partner of the UEFA Europa League – the world’s largest professional club football competition. Kia Motors Corporation's brand slogan – "The Power to Surprise" – represents the company's global commitment to surprise the world by providing exciting and inspiring experiences that go beyond expectations.

With influencer marketing gaining enormous popularity these days, will Kia Motors also be trying hand-on influencer marketing?

We have not adopted this marketing strategy yet as we firmly believe that our customers and the technical experts are our brand ambassadors. They are our brand custodians.

2019 saw a downfall in the market and the economy. So what are your hopes for 2020?

Kia Motors had a pretty exciting year. We have made a mark in India with our first product – the Seltos establishing itself as a trusted brand with record bookings of 6,046 on the first day of bookings. We have a widespread network of 265 customer touchpoints, in 160 cities across Tier 1, 2 and 3 cities in India.

We are very optimistic for 2020 with two big launches coming up. The economy will hopefully catch up momentum in the middle of this year. So, looking forward to a great year ahead.

 

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