MAM

Toyota's 'touch and try' ad mantra

TV stars Amarr Upadhyay and Aman Varma belong to the 100,000 happy customer club of Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM). More importantly, they are very willing to endorse the company's brands too.

Also part of the club are celebrities like Bollywood actress Preeti Jhangiani, south Indian actress Urvashi, ex-cricket administrator Raj Singh Dungarpurkar, lawyer-cum-activist Nana Chudasama, singer SP Balasubramaniam among others.

In September 2003, automobile major TKM crossed the 100,000 vehicle production milestone in India - within four years of the launch of its Indian operations. The automobile manufacturer has announced the launch of a special limited edition Qualis FS with enhanced features to commemorate the occasion.

In line with the global Toyota initiatives on advanced technology, TKM also plans to leverage Toyota Motor Corporation's (TMC) association with the Formula One (F1) circuit. TMC is one of the few corporate entities to participate in F1 racing as a full constructor that includes development of all the important elements such as chassis, engine and suspension.

The company has launched merchandise around the theme as well as a microsite called www.toyota-f1.com. The interactive microsite has detailed news, views and blogs on the theme of F1 racing, to familiarise itself to Indian enthusiasts too.

Here, we take a look at the advertising and marketing strategy undertaken by the company in India since 2000...

TKM's ad spend proportionately hiked to achieve future targets:

TKM has invested Rs 9 billion in its plant at Bidadi in Karnataka. The joint venture company's advertising budget has skyrocketed from Rs 140 million in the year 2000 to Rs 430 million in 2003.

TKM managing director Atsushi Toyoshima proudly announced that the joint venture (JV) company has rolled out its 100,000th domestically-produced vehicle within three years of its launch in India.

"At present, we produce and sell around 45,000 vehicles per annum and expect to cross the 200,000-mark within two years. We might consider launching a large-volume small car in the near future but the present focus will be on Qualis, Corolla and Camry," says Toyoshima. He also claims that the JV company currently has 2,300 employees as compared to 850 in 2000.

Talking about the future, TKM vice chairman Vikram Kirloskar says, "The reductions in the excise duties announced during Budget 2003-04 and the good monsoons have fuelled the growth of India's automobile industries. In fact, the domestic auto industry has grown by 17 per cent. By 2010, the Indian market will touch volumes of 1.7 million units and TKM will be well-positioned to grab a sizable chunk of the market.

Globally, Toyota Motors has set a target of grabbing 15 per cent of the world automobile sales by 2010."

TKM strategy since launch:

While unveiling the Qualis FS, Kirloskar made a presentation about the strategy undertaken by TKM in India. Here, we present some excerpts:

* Our success story signifies unrelenting attention on two pillars - customer-focus and quality. Our elaborate market research conducted prior to the launch showed that Indian customers desired a novel driving experience. Customers also sought spacious cars and enhanced driving comfort.

* Our campaign "We have 100 answers" focused on perfection at the dealer end. We made it clear that our network would give priority to every wish and command of the customers.

* Our company conducts extensive market research programmes on values and customer benefits. Customer benefit is the central theme of our communication.

* Way back in 11 January 2000, we came up with our "Touch and Try" campaign. The TV commercials launched during that phase was the salesman practising 100 answers.

The Toyota "Your life is the inspiration behind Qualis" ad campaign

* The essence of the next campaign was "Your life is the inspiration behind Qualis". We wanted to target different customer segments with our "Where are you going?" campaign. The TV commercial showed vignettes of rural and urban India - glimpses from places in Uttar Pradesh (where consumers sought spacious cars); Kerala (consumers sought flexible seating); Goa (where consumers sought "easy to drive" vehicles) and Karnataka (easy to manoeuvre).

* The next campaign was "Touch the perfection". The consumer focus remained constant even during the launch of models like Corolla and Camry.



*The company has established 40 state-of-the-art 3S (Sales, Service and Spare Parts) dealerships throughout the country to provide the maximum-possible customer care and satisfaction.

* Recently, when we touched the 100,000 mark, we asked our customers whether they would like to testify and endorse our automobile brands. We received an overwhelming response from people from all walks of life - TV and film personalities, cricketers, businessmen, singers, self-employed professionals amongst others.

Kirloskar, for one, is pretty upbeat about their marketing and advertising approach and so are his colleagues!



Advertising strategy reaped rich dividends:

While speaking to indiantelevision.com, TKM marketing director Satoshi Aoki says, "The sales have grown exponentially from 21,785 units in 2000 to 25,050 units in 2002. In 2003, we are targetting 34,000 units and have already sold 20,055 till August 2003. We have 40 per cent of the MPV (multi-purpose vehicles) segment in 2003."

Toyota
2000
2001
2002
2003
No of units sold
21,785
28,022
25,050
20,055 (till August)
Market share
35.1 %
40%
37.6%
40%

Aoki also adds that the target audience is people in the age-group 30-45 years; businessmen, self-employed professionals with an income of Rs 600,000 to 800,000 per annum; those who drive between 40-50 kms a day.

"Our research showed that they are seeking an eight-seater at an affordable price - high comfort multi-utility vehicle at a low-operating cost. Therefore, we launched the special edition Qualis FS model."

When asked about competition, TKM deputy general manager (marketing division) B Ashish Kumar says, "Competition comes from MPVs like Scorpio (Mahindra and Mahindra), Tata Sumo and Safari, C-segment cars like Accent and Honda City. However, a telling comment on our dominance will be the fact that we have a 46 per cent market share in Maharashtra whereas Scorpio has a 22 per cent share - incidentally, the state is M&M's home turf."

While adding that the same is true for other brands, Ashish Kumar says, "We have a waiting period for all our brands including Corolla and Camry because customers prefer certain colours and shades too. More importantly, we focus on supporting dealers and the direct marketing campaign revolves around the dealers."

The recently launched Toyota Corolla (C segment) has clocked sales of 5,248 units between February and August 2003. The Camry, Toyota's three-box sedan, launched in October 2002 has sold 812 units till date. The company will embark upon a month-long multimedia campaign from 15 September to 15 October.

Starting 15 September, TKM will launch a special ad campaign for selling 1,000 units of the special limited eight-seater Qualis FS edition that will cost Rs 632,310 (ex-showroom; L3 model without EGR) and Rs 655,320 (ex-showroom L4 with EGR). The Qualis FS limited edition comes with a sleek new full-body stripe to add a touch of style; imposing front grill guard for a powerful front profile; silver metallic dashboard panelling; high mount stop lamp; imported sunshades amongst others.

Denstu Inc India representative office's senior client services director Kenji Nogami adds, "This month-long campaign will air on niche channels - sports and news among others. Our regular advertising that revolves around the "emotional appeal" - Live the Qualis life and touch the perfection - will continue post this month-long campaign. In the near future, the F1 campaign will gain prominence."

As part of its effort to pamper customers, the company has chalked out a month-long celebration plan for its existing and prospective customers nationally. "These would include exclusive entertainment shows featuring prominent artistes like Sonu Nigam and SP Balakrishnan, service camps special offers and exciting promotions," says TKM deputy managing director KK Swamy.

Looks like Qualis proud owners like Aman Varma and gang are in a for a treat!

 

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