Sunday, December 26, 2010

Brand Update : Nano is the Key to Happiness

Its almost two years since the launch of Tata Nano. A lot has happened over these years. The much hyped & much criticized small car has hit the road and is running through its worst nightmare- sluggish sales.

When Ratan Tata announced the launch of Nano, the media went gaga over the product and the realization of dream of a common man's car. Globally Nano became a big news because of its unbelievable price tag of Rs 1 lakh. More over Tata was able to give a great looking car at a very cheap price.

In my earlier posts, I predicted that Nano will create record interms of sales. I believed that consumers will lap up such a well designed economical car. Nano will create history... but my predictions failed miserably. In November, Tata Motors was able to sell only 500 of Nano cars.

The problem for the brand started when reports of the car getting fire began spreading. Just after the launch, a few Nano cars got fire and the pictures of Nano on flames splashed across the media. Consumers began to seriously worry about the safety of Nano.

To counter this negative publicity , Tata Motors began serious efforts to restore faith in the brand. The company initiated a recall program where the existing Nano cars were fitted with additional safety features. Along with that, Nano was further tested for safety by engineers from Tata Motors as well as from Jaguar.

These measures ,to a certain extent, contained the damage of Nano's brand image. Further to the safety issue, the brand also faced the issue where consumers at the lower-income strata was declined loan by banks and financial institutions for buying Nano. Although the auto loans were always a risky liability for the financial institutions and loan-denial is not anything new in this industry, this issue was again highlighted across the media as a specific issue pertaining to Nano.

So the brand is now facing an issue which is highly perceptual. And a negative perception for a brand in the introductory stage of PLC can be fatal.

To tide over the issue regarding the trust + safety, Tata Motors introduced a four year/60000km warranty for the Nano. The warranty is an assurance from the brand aimed to build trust in the brand.

Along with these measures, Nano also launched its first television commercial this month.

Watch the ad here : Tata Nano TVC

The new ad projects the positives of the car and positions the brand as " Key to Happiness". The brand has adopted the tagline " Khushiyon ke Chaabi ".

What the brand needs is to restore confidence of consumers in the brand. The picture of Nano in flames is still embedded in the consumer's mind. It should be erased if the brand wants to see the sales figures upward. For that it should get as many Tata Nano on the road as possible. The more cars on the road will instill confidence in the consumers to buy this brand. For that the brand should go to any extent.

It is not that I am not aware of the negatives of Nano. But Nano is a genuine marketing effort to satisfy a gap in the market. As a marketer, this is a brand I don't want to see failing in the market.

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