Since its launch in 2005, the brand had a dream run. According to domain-b website, Toyota has sold over 1,60,000 units since its launch. The brand have a market share of over 36 percent in the segment.
The brand virtually ruled the premium segment without much competition. The brand also had the exemplary Toyota quality which created a benchmark for future competition.
The relaunch of Innova is a pre-emptive strategy by Toyota because of the recent launch of Mahindra Xylo. Toyota knew that Xylo can be a dangerous competitor. The simple fact that Mahindra shook the SUV market with Scorpio makes it a worthy comeptitor for Toyota.
So as a market leader, Innova had to respond to competition. I am impressed with the speed in which Innova reacted to Xylo launch. According to reports, the MPV segment witnessed a degrowth in 2008. Mahindra is expected to bring consumer interest back to the segment. The pricing and the quality of Xylo is reported to be good enough to give Innova a tough year ahead.
The degrowth of MPV segment is due to the lazy marketing by Innova. Innova also became laid back last year in terms of promotions and product improvements. The brand shot into limelight through some classy adverting featuring Aamir Khan. Later Aamir was dropped and Innova went into silence. There was just one campaign for Innova in 2008.
Although the MPV segment have few intra-segment competition, they compete with other segments. Hence the high profile launches of premium cars in other segments will have its effect on Innova.
In my personal opinion , consumers in India evaluate products across segments while making a decision. So a consumer may look at Scorpio and Skoda together and then make a choice. Hence when all other brands are making noise, Innova lost many customers because of its laid-back promotions.
Xylo has really warmed up this brand and Innova has responded early to the competition. The brand does not have much issues on the product side but there is an issue in the promotional side. The brand really needs a heavy dose of promotions to retain its glory.
I am sure that Innova may be missing Aamir Khan......