Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Tata Manza : A Class Apart

Brand : Manza
Company : Tata Motors
Advertising Agency : Draft FCB Ulka

Brand Analysis Count : 473

Philip Kotler once famously said " Marketing is easy to understand and difficult to practice ". The concepts of marketing are no rocket science and hence we can see those concepts being casually treated.Marketing practitioners know the difficulties in cracking the marketing code and making the product successful in the market. It may be the simplicity of marketing concepts that make marketers to defy common sense and make marketing mistaks.
The same casual treatment of branding is visible in the case of branding of Manza and the brand is now investing heavily in undoing the mistake done in the past. Manza was launched as a sub-brand of Indigo in 2009. The Indigo Manza was the premium variant of the popular entry-level sedan brand Indigo. 

Indigo Manza was an effort of  Tata Motors for breaking Indigo from the perception of a Cab Car. Since Indigo was one of the most value for money diesel car in India, it was popular as a cab. Indigo Manza was styled differently and sported the state-of -the art engine from Fiat. 
Indigo Manza was positioned along the same lines of Tata Indigo. Indigo was positioned as a luxury + VFM brand and had sported the tagline " Spoil Yourself ". Indigo Manza had the tagline " Indulge in Style " . 
The brand was positioned as a stylish luxurious car and as usual Tata Motors added lot of goodies to the product to make it worth the price paid for. Another big leap for Manza was the engine. Tata Motors used the tested Fiat engines into the Manza and concentrated more on the style and product packaging . The variant was heavily promoted across the media.

Watch the TVC here : Indigo Manza

Interestingly the confusion regarding the brand started in early 2011. Tata Motors made that significant strategic decision to disassociate  Manza from Indigo. The company decided to make Manza an independent brand and dropped the Indigo endorsement from all communication. Indigo Manza became Tata Manza. Along with the decision came  the launch of Manza Elan which is the premium hatchback variant of Manza.In its independent avatar, Manza did not change the core brand DNA of luxury. Manza reinforced its " Luxury " positioning with the new tagline " A Class Apart ". 

Manza is now investing heavily in creating an independent image for Manza and also moving away from Indigo. Interestingly Indigo is now more associated with its Compact Sedan variant Indigo CS and has left the luxury + VFM positioning to Manza.

The important question here is why didn't Tata Motors think about Manza as an independent brand at the time of its launch itself. Why did the brand spend hell lot of money to promote itself as Indigo Manza for more than two years and then decide to go independent. 

Was it not a bad decision to launch Manza as a sub-brand of Indigo ? What may have prevented Tata Motors to hesitate from creating a new premium brand rather than trying to extend a VFM brand to premium segment.
It is this dilemma that makes marketing decisions difficult.One argument can be that the company wanted to establish Manza in the market first and then gradually make it independent.  My personal opinion is that Tata Motors did a branding mistake in launching Manza as a sub-brand of Indigo. Its common sense that it is always better to launch a new premium brand rather than extend a VFM brand to premium segment using a variant. The decision to sub-brand Manza also shows a lack of long-term strategic thinking on the Tata Motors part regarding the brand porfolio decisions. The company is little confused about how Indica, Indica Vista, Indigo, Manza are to be managed. There was a recent report which suggest that Vista will be disassociated from Indica and launched as a standalone brand. 

One of the reasons for disassociating Manza from Indigo is the threat from the launch of Toyota Etios. Etios  is being offered at a terrific price point and is a direct threat to Indigo's position in the market especially at the premium end . Tata Motors feel that potential Indigo Manza owners will move to Etios because of brand equity of Toyota. Indigo Manza may not be capable to fight Etios because of the baggage of Indigo association. That can be one of the reasons for such a decision.

It is easy to criticize the branding decisions as an observer because the brand managers are bound by lot of internal pressures which force them to take these kind of decisions. 

Regarding Manza, the road ahead is not going to be easy because the association with Indigo is still strong. It will take a lot of money to erase or at best reduce the level of association between Indigo and Manza. 
Ideally the brand owners should have charted the vision for every brand in their portfolio before launching to the public. This creating of brand vision is of extreme importance and should be undertaken for every variants and sub-brands. It should be this vision that will guide the brand's path to future and protect it from the short-term thinking of individuals. 

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