Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Wagon-R: For a Smarter Race

Brand: Wagon-R
Company: Maruti
Agency: Hakudo Percept

This is one of the successful brands from Maruti portfolio in the premium segment of compact cars. Wagon R was launched in February 2000 and has gone through several makeovers during these 6 years.

Wagon-R which was priced very steeply during the launch did a drastic price cut to appeal to the customer. Initially Wagon-R struggled with the value proposition. The quality of the car was excellent and Wagon-R was rated as a top quality compact car by JD Power Quality surveys. Once it got the price right and with the demise of Zen, Wagon- R had a jolly good run.

Wagon-R has a unique Tall Boy shape is one of the original tall boy cars although the credit for tall boy design popularity goes to Santro. Wagon-R was initially positioned on the basis of the functionality platform. Initially promoted as a family car with the baseline “Feel At Home” Wagon-R is yet to find the right message to be given to the customer

Maruti calls Wagon-R as a Multi- Activity vehicle t with a unique look, more space and excellent drive quality. Maruti likes Wagon-R to be perceived as an Off-beat car.

Maruti struggling to find the right fit for the car in the minds of the customer,changed the positioning from “ Feel At Home “ to “ Inspired Engineering” to “ As Interesting as You Are “ and finally to " For a Smarter Race " to project the unconventional design and the off beat persona of the car. These changes have not so far affected the sale of the car either positively or negatively. The car sold very well because the product was good. Since the competitor Santro has really bored the customer, Wagon-R gave a choice to the customer.

Recently Wagon-R changed the positioning again. The new baseline says “For a Smarter Race”. The campaign shows the young man doing the unconventional act like starting his own business and the chick getting really impressed by that. Very unlikely fit; such kinds of guys drive a Scorpio or a Safari. Also the locale of the ad is a riverside; Wagon-R is not an off-roader!

Maruti is still confused.

Wagon-R has the record of a brand which has changed the positioning so frequently like a baby changing its diapers. The sale is going north because the product is good contrary to the fact that the positioning is going south (We may have to test whether positioning affect the sales of a product. Wagon-R proves it doesn’t). Personally I don’t think that Wagon-R is bought by unconventional offbeat thinking yuppie. All my friends have bought this car because of its functionality as a compact city car: nothing more,nothing less.

As long as the product is selling, anything goes …..