We leverage digital media through customised content: Kedar Apte, Castrol India

Kedar Apte, Vice President, Marketing, Castrol India Limited, spoke about the brand's communication strategy and says they are focused on purpose-driven marketing

e4m by Dolly Mahayan
Updated: May 9, 2019 8:41 AM
kedar apte

With the rise of digital media, brands today mostly focus on influential or experimental marketing to associate with their target audience. However, there are many brands that don’t follow this approach. Lubricant oil brand Castrol India, for example, has a different take and the brand is more focused towards purpose-driven marketing.

According to Kedar Apte – Vice President, Marketing, Castrol India Limited, “This approach is helping us build a strong emotional bond with our consumers. We have established a deep connection with our consumers and want our brands to be a catalyst for change too”.

Castrol has always associated itself with young age Indian through sports as part of marketing strategy, but this time the brand has launched a campaign around the 2019 Indian General Election with a message. We spoke to Apte about the brand's communication strategy, how the lubricant market is doing, their current market share and more

How do you see the growth of the lubricant market in India and what is your current market share?

With demand for lubricants expected to grow, driven by vehicles sales in developing markets like India, technology advancement in the segment will lead to a reduction in consumption per vehicle and higher quality lubricants to meet new emission norms. In the next five years, we expect about 88 million vehicles to be added to the current vehicle segment in India and the overall lubricants market to grow between 2-4% over the next decade. Overall, we expect to see the Indian vehicle industry growing at a CAGR of 11% for the next five years, which provides an extremely exciting opportunity for growth in our business.

The immediate change will be the transition to BS VI in 2020. All OEMs are focusing on getting ready for this transition by producing fuel-efficient engines meeting the norms of BS VI. We are actively working with OEMs on new products to meet the approaching BS VI emission legislation changes in India, leveraging our global experience of similar journeys in other regions. At Castrol India, we are geared up to introduce high-technology premium products for each of the market spaces, which would exceed the lubrication needs of such vehicles. We are also preparing the business for long term future by developing and testing new business models so we have the capabilities to take advantage of market changes in mid but also long term, including lower carbon, advanced mobility, and digitization.

Castrol leads automotive retail lubricants market with about 18 percent market share. We have one two-wheeler being sold in India every two seconds and one new car being sold every ten seconds. This means that personal mobility segment for lubricants will continue to grow.

How has your communication strategy changed in the last few years?

We continue to track consumer journeys and connect with consumers through several touch points. For instance, we connect with truckers through on ground activation and TV advertising on select genres they watch.

To connect with car consumers, we use a variety of media including Digital. For instance, last year, we launched new Castrol MAGNATEC with DUALOCK molecules exclusively through a VOD format and were successful in meeting our media objectives.

We continue to leverage digital media through customised content. We have two social communities – Castrol Cricket and Castrol Biking. We also leverage content in an interesting way to build a brand proposition.

With the growing demand for clean fuel and electric cars globally, how do you see yourself 5 years from now? 

Electric vehicles will play a major role in lowering emissions from transport; there are other options too, including greater efficiency in conventional engines, biofuels, and advanced fuels. We do not expect the overall contribution by electric vehicles in the next 5-10 years to be substantial. We cater to the overall vehicle population and not just to new vehicles and we are confident that the lubricants market in India will continue to grow. We should also take note that in the near future, there are many more developments in terms of efficiency beyond electric. Even the normal standard combustion engines are becoming more efficient and one of our agenda items is to support the low-carbon transition by designing products for these new engines.

Sport has always been at the core of Castrol marketing strategy, but this time, you came up with a campaign delivering a social message. Why this change in strategy?

The key target audience of our lead category two-wheelers is young males and we have in the past leveraged sports sponsorships to build brand proposition. Sport is a passion point of youth and we will continue using this to build the proposition of the brand. We believe today’s youth is curious, optimistic and determined to make a positive change. We see this being reflected in a lot of social movements these days. We want our brands to be a catalyst for change too.

How can brands identify their target customers and work towards providing better products and solutions in this crowded market?

The key is customer intimacy. We understand not only vehicles but also understand the drivers or riders and their issues. For instance, through interactions with car drivers across some of the big cities in the world, we have learnt that car drivers have to go through frequent stop-starts in city driving conditions, which puts stress on car engines. This led to the development of special molecules called DUALOCK molecules (Castrol MAGNATEC car engine oils with DUALOCK technology) which, provide the best protection under these conditions. When we realized that engines of mini trucks run 25 degrees hotter which causes discomfort to the drivers, we launched Castrol CRB Mini truck with heat shield boosters which work well in hotter conditions. Brand marketers need to stay connected with their customers to identify their concerns and provide relevant solutions.

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