Monday, April 23, 2007

Mitsubishi Lancer : Always In Control

Brand : Lancer
Company: Mitsubishi/Hindustan Motors

Brand Count:224

Lancer is a super brand in its own right. A surprise winner from the old war horse Hindustan Motors, Lancer has been a major player in the mid size premium segment for over 9 years. Lancer was launched in India in 1998.
When the brand was launched, it was considered a super luxury car for the rich and famous. During those days , there was not much competition and the Lancer redefined the concept of luxury and comfort. Despite being from Hindustan Motors, Lancer was never perceived to be a cousin of Ambassador. The brand was able to build a positive secondary association with the Mitsubishi rather than Ambassador.
Lancer was launched with the Slow Skimming strategy. The brand was priced at a premium and was not backed by aggressive promotion.The company decided to let the brand talk for itself rather than advertisements.
The brand did talked for itself. Lancer is known to be a no nonsense car that delivers which it promises.The car is sturdy,comfortable and stylish. Since the brand was positioned as a super premium car, the car took two attributes : style and driving pleasure as its positioning platform. The car was promoted as the status symbol for those who has already reached the pinnacle of success.The brand touted the tagline " Own the Road" symbolizing the image, size and comfort of the car.The brand had campaigns starting with explaining the benefits of the car then later moving into communicating the pleasures of owning a Lancer.
But later the brand found itself in the middle of an identity crisis. The competition created new segments in the market and Lancer soon found itself not a member of super premium segment. The brand had to reinvent itself. The brand moved from C segment to D segment and the competition was hotting up from Accent and City.
The disruption in the segment forced Lancer to change the Target Segment also. From the successful, the TG has changed to those who is one their way to success.The TG was defined as 30+ who are the Climbers and who needs symbols to motivate them to reach higher.The tagline was changed to " Life in Control" that talks about being in control of the car and the life. To be in control was a significant aspect to the life of the TG. This insight inspired the brand to come out with communications explaining the big idea. I would say that the campaign was inspired by the campaign of BMW 's "Ultimate Driving Machine " campaign.

Despite the competition, Lancer has always been an introvert brand. I do not remember any TVC for the brand or recollect any print campaigns but still I see a lot of Lancer's on road and all owners of this brand swear by the performance and quality.The quality and customer satisfaction was reflected in the surveys and more importantly the car winning lot of Motor Rally.
The brand was smart enough to make changes especially in design/look without disturbing the equity. 2004 saw the brand coming out with a variant Lancer Cedia which was positioned as a sporty Lancer. But there too the brand kept a low profile.
Despite its lack of aggression, Lancer rules the Mid Size premium segment. But competition is becoming too hot for an introvert... Lancer may have to make more noises before it getting lost in the new launches.


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