Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Maruti A Star : Stop @ Nothing

Brand : A Star
Company : Maruti Suzuki India Ltd

Brand Analysis Count : # 490

A Star was an ambitious brand for Maruti Suzuki India Ltd ( MSIL). The brand was expected to consolidate the massive leadership position of MSIL in the A2 segment of Indian passenger car market. The brand was also expected to penetrate into the highly lucrative demographic market of young Indians.
Launched in 2008, A Star was a global car made in India. The brand was touted as a World Strategic Model and was the first car to be fitted with the famed KB series engine. The brand was expected to fit in between Zen Estillo and Ritz priced around Rs 3.5 lakh to 4,.5 lakh.A1 and A2 segment ( together called as Small Car Segment ) constitutes around 80% of the Indian passenger car market.

A Star was launched with two objectives - to tap the export market and also to launch a model in the premium A2 segment. The first objective was met through a series of strategic alliances with Nissan and Volkswagen. The grand plans for the Indian market however hit a rough patch over these years with A Star failing to impress the Indian consumer after the initial enthusiasm
The brand started its journey with an aspirational note positioning itself as an aspirational- loaded- young- car for the successful ones.The brand was also a highly eco-friendly car that met the toughest European emission standards. The brand roped in Farhan Akther as the brand ambassador and adopted the tagline " Stop @ Nothing ". Farhan Akthar was reigning hot with his movie Rock On and A Star tried to capitalize on Farhan's image as a cool successful young man.
Watch the ad here : A Star Farhan 
The brand was projecting itself as a sports car for the youth and was one of the first car brands to show car stunts in their campaigns - Watch another ad here

Despite these attempts to position the car for the youth, the sales started sliding and was not meeting the expectation of the company. One of the major complaint about A Star was the space. Although the car was rated high on drive quality, the interiors was totally cramped even had less space than Alto. The back seat virtually was too crampy and as one of the reviewer commented - the car is suited for a bachelor . This single disadvantage threatened the entire life of the brand coupled with the fact that A Star was launched during the beginning of recession. It is an irony that Zen Estillo sold more car than A Star because it was more spacey although less modern.
In 2010, the brand faced another blow interms of a recall because of a fuel leak. The recall dented the image of A star as a unreliable car. 

To counter the sales decline, A Star tried to change the promotional strategy by adopting a functional thrust to the messages than the earlier emotional take. The brand also began to talk about A Star consumer profile inorder to boost it image as a car for youngsters who believe in themselves. Watch the ad here

2010 also saw a slew of product innovations for A Star. The brand launched an automatic version which was very well received by the consumers. Another innovation was the introduction of personalization option for A Star. The brand launched Wrapping kits using which consumers could personalize their car. The kits was pricey at around Rs 16000 which scared many consumers away from that option. 
2011 was the year when the brand got really aggressive and bold . The brand is currently running a campaign which talks about Whakypedia which is A Star's dictionary of commonly used terms like Stepney ,censored  test drive , etc. The brand uses the tagline " New Definitions for New Generations " for this campaign.
The ads definitely bring lot of youthfulness and energy to the brand and after the campaigns, there are lot of  A Stars on the road ( discounts too are a reason). But the brand's product deficiencies cannot be masked by smart campaigns. 
A Star will do well as a first car for youngsters. The brand will fit those customers who cannot afford a Swift or a Ritz but would love to have a reliable car ( predominantly Maruti choosers). Beyond that , A Star will not be able to impress a family man solely because of lack of space.