"Our media investment is lower than last year": Hyundai Motor's Tarun Garg

Customer sentiment is shifting towards personal mobility.

Tarun Garg

NEW DELHI: Even as the automobile industry was only beginning to cope with the changes from BSVI norms, the pandemic battered it. Deteriorating demand has affected production, factories’ closure and the extended lockdown led to labour disruption. As India eased into Unlock mode, auto brands are engaging in refreshed marketing activities to boost sales.

In an interview with, Hyundai Motor India Ltd director- sales, marketing & service Tarun Garg says that due to the fear of the virus among people, the customer sentiment is shifting towards personal mobility over shared mobility. “We believe there will be an increase in traction for the compact and used car segments.”

The industry witnessed one of its sharpest declines in domestic sales in March 2020. As per SIAM reports, sales of commercial vehicles - light, medium and heavy carriers of passengers and goods - declined by 88.05 per cent to 13,027 units in March 2020 compared to 109,022 units in March 2019.

The brand recently launched a virtual reality experience, ‘The Next Dimension’, an immersive expression of different cultures with human-centric design. According to Garg, "Digital platform has the power to transform the world and we have received an overwhelming response on the event with 39 million views and counting and engagement of over 1.1 million.”

“Perfectly harmonising the dynamics of physical and digital worlds, the entire 33-minute capsule, except the cars and presenters, was shot by using the advance level CGI & VFX technologies, presenting a larger-than-life storytelling experience,” he adds.

He shares that the auto industry will see some revival in the festive season and is likely to normalise early next year. Garg admires that the Indian market has been highly resilient in challenging conditions.  “We will be quicker to overcome the adversities than other countries. We will evaluate the environment and determine the future course of production plans.”

Auto industry body, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), recently, in a statement, said that the sector was already "facing an unprecedented challenge with 18 per cent de-growth last year and as per an assessment, the impact of COVID2019 on demand for vehicles in the current financial year, the sector could have a decline between 22 per cent to 35 per cent in various industry segments, if the overall Indian GDP growth is at zero to one per cent for FY 21.”

Since consumer sentiment is not substantial and the sector is not performing well, Hyundai’s first aim is to resolve customer anxiety. “Under the ambit of Hyundai Cares, we have introduced multiple financial schemes to enhance customer confidence through programs such as EMI assurance and associations with banks to offer unique customer-centric car finance schemes,” adds Garg.

In the lockdown period, auto companies slashed their advertising spends, especially on TV, and focused on the digital space with campaigns mostly about the pandemic. However, now the momentum is picking up in the Unlock phase and digital and TV viewership is on a record high. Brands are working on new strategies to connect with the target audience.

According to Garg, this unprecedented situation has taught learnings such as to have a sustained communication, focus on digital mediums and customer relationship. However, he shares that though Hyundai has optimised its media mix and investments, it is lower than last year’s level and based on market priority.

He asserts, “The consumption of digital mediums has gone through the roof. We optimised these mediums very strategically. Today, more than 30 per cent of our customer sales queries are coming through digital sources, i.e., 2X over what we recorded last year.”

In an extremely challenging market, Hyundai seems to have made a positive beginning towards normalcy. In the month of June, Garg says it registered a cumulative sale of 26,820 units. The ‘All-New CRETA’ has recorded over 45,000 bookings including 5000 units exported in May, maintaining its SUV dominance for the month of May and June.

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