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Pitch CMO Summit: Redefining the automotive retail space: Mahindra & Mahindra Chief of Sales & Marketing

20-March-2018
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Pitch CMO Summit: Redefining the automotive retail space: Mahindra & Mahindra Chief of Sales & Marketing

Veejay Ram Nakra, Chief of Sales & Marketing, Automotive Division Mahindra & Mahindra, shared at the PITCH CMO Summit 2018 that in the automobile category, decisions aren’t easy to make. “It is a high involvement category. If we go with what the millennial thinks about the automobile industry, they don’t want to own a car. For them Uber and Ola is their way of life so I guess that can help us understand the amount of threat we have to face,” he said.

Addressing the gathering at the event, Nakra spoke about ‘Wooing the Connected Spender’. He said, “In the traditional way the segment we used to market, I think those days are over especially when you look at connected spender and online space. Hence looking at consumer definition going forward, how the consumer is going to behave in terms of their purchase behaviour, we have clearly shifted the way we looked at these consumers.”

Nakra mentioned the research they have done and he came up with 10 unique personas and out of which he shared the two important ones with the audience. The first persona, is a digital dreamer. “Here is the segment in the market who literally lives digital, they don’t go beyond the digital space. They are building aspiration for products even before a clear intent to purchase. These people check their phones on an average of 221 times,” shared Nakra.

What can brands do for these digital dreamers? “It is primarily the power of analytics and power of data. We have been using this phrase in marketing for many years where we say customised and N is equal to one and now you can do that with the help of digital tools. Another interesting persona is the butterfly consumer, the customer who is constantly moving between the online and the offline channels, fluttering between them with high degree of unpredictability. In the past, it used to be sequential research online and purchase offline. For all marketers you need to have insurance for your marketing strategy. Whatever you do in this unpredictable environment, strategy should ensure that it covers all the basis.”

Nakra gave an example of how Audi offers customers a seamless and immersive experience at its Audi city stores.

While discussing what Mahindra is doing in this high involvement category where you have digital dreamers and unpredictable customers, Nakra highlighted that the decision in the past were made by family and friends but now in the hierarchy it's the digital that decides your brand.

The wow experience during purchase is more important than ever before. Customers are making fewer showroom visit and taking fewer test drives. “There was a time when we used to have a 2.3 test drive in 2009 before the purchase which has come down to 1.1 in 2017 and of course the customers are looking for seamless experiences. They don't want to go to your workshop and talk to the technicians, they want everything to be convenient,” mentioned Nakra.

What Mahindra is doing, in the bucket of pre sales, sales and post sales? “We have actually created a digital platform, it's not an app or a website. The reason I call it a platform because there is no other automobile manufacturer who gives what this platform gives you in the automobile space. There is no other automobile manufacturer that gives access to dealer stock available at the showroom. Collaborative exploration, again industry first, where you create your vehicle on Facebook on social media with your friends so if you like a vehicle you can start accessorising it and book the product online,” shared Nakra.

He further added that today Indian consumers don’t physically buy online but they book vehicles online, and data is testimony to this. Today almost 13% of their enquiries come from online and 8% of the retails of Mahindra’s personal brands, not the commercial range, get sold or booked online hence it's an clear indication in terms of what will emerge going forward.

The third leg is the after sales, “Our brand ‘With You Hamesha’ again is a digital after sales platform. If you are a Mahindra customer and need to service your vehicle through this platform you will have access to the workshop schedule, you can book your service and the person will come to your place to pick up the vehicle, service gets done and you pay online. 10 % of such services take place on this platform. Convenience is what people are looking for,” informed Nakra. “At Mahindra we are taking the showroom home to the customers,” he added.

There are brands that are talking about increasing footprints with larger showrooms. “We have turned the strategy on its head and we are saying no to 5000 square feet showrooms, we are going digital. Create a digital experience for the customer in small showrooms and take them across the country. We are trying to create Audi city here because that costs a couple of million dollars we need to keep viability of our dealers in mind when we do stuff like this, the objective is to take this urban and create a light version of it, which you can take into rural India and that's how we are kind of re-imagining the dealership,” concluded Nakra.

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