Monday, August 22, 2011

Brand Update : Jazz Gets Reasonable

Finally common sense prevails over Honda Jazz. The brand is relaunched with a significant reduction in price marking the end of aggressive market posture by Honda. Honda have a terrific brand equity in the Indian market with its City being one of the most successful product which lead the premium sedan market in India. But with the aggressive product launches from Volkswagen, Toyota and others coupled with Honda's over confidence led to the situation where the brand was dislodged from its market leadership. This over - confidence has blinded the company from understanding the competitive landscape in the market which it operates. Even Honda is not immune to marketing myopia.

This attitude of aggression and over-confidence was evident in the company's attitude towards Jazz. Jazz was launched at a price of Rs 7-9 lakh INR and the attitude was Take It or Leave It. Indian consumers choose to leave the brand and sales floundered. But all through these years, the brand maintained its stance on not reducing its price and depending on the brand's strong image to lure customers towards expensive Jazz.

The sharp decline of the sales of Honda City  in 2011 was a wake up call for Honda. The company realized that a positive brand equity may not guarantee sales. The brand needs to make sense to the customer. It is a surprise that a reputed company like Honda was not able to understand the Psyche of Indian consumer . Honda also failed to see the changes that were happening in the Indian passenger car market. The entry of new players and the shift of consumer interest towards diesel paved the way for the Honda City's dethroning from the leadership position. These factors also made Jazz irrelevant in the Indian market. 

It is in this light that Honda decided to reposition Honda Jazz at the price point. The brand has reduced the price by almost 1.5 Lakh INR and Jazz is now available at price range of 5.5 Lakh to 6.5 Lakh INR . I think this price rationalization is too late too little for Jazz. The market is too negative for a premium priced petrol hatchback. Even at the current reduced price, Jazz is expensive compared to Toyota Liva and even Etios.
Having said that, the brand should be credited with an attempt to create the premium hatchback market in India but the timing was wrong and value proposition of Jazz was not good enough to justify the steep price.
Consumers may adore the brand but to make him purchase , the brand needs to make sense.
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