Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Force One : Be The Force

Brand : Force One
Company : Force Motors

Brand Analysis Count : # 506

Force Motors which is well known for its commercial vehicles like Tempo Travellor, Trekker etc has made a significant entry into the SUV market in India. The company recently launched an SUV Force One in the Indian market.
Indian SUV market is now appearing lucrative to auto majors. Indian car market is skewed to small cars. The market is dominated by small cars. SUVs were a niche. But recent trend is that consumers are purchasing more SUVs despite the poor infrastructure conditions and rising fuel prices. According to newsreports, 324000 SUVs were sold in India during 2010-2011. The growth of SUVs were infact more than the car segment. 

The Indian SUV market is dominated by Mahindra with its flagship brand Scorpio. Toyota Fortuner is the second largest brand but dominates the premium segment of the SUV market. The market has witnessed a slew of launches from all major brands in the world.Hence the launch of  a brand in this segment is very risky and difficult. Force One has took this challenge seriously and has done some serious homework before going for the launch.

Force Motors took a very smart step  by collaborating with Mercedes Benz for the engine of Force One. The company has already understood the benefits of tying up with a brand like Mercedes before in the success of its Traveller. So by sourcing the most critical element of the car from World's most respect company, Force One has almost negated the risk of Engine complaints and the Mercedes engine will give confidence to consumers about this newcomer's claims.
Second smart move was the design part. Indian SUV consumers like big mean machines. Frustrated by poor roads and rash and arrogant driving of larger vehicles like trucks and buses, most Indian consumers love to have a large vehicle to tame the arrogant truck and bus drivers. Hence Force One deliberately designed itself to look larger and meaner. 
The third and most important move was the promotion part. The brand almost shocked the entire auto world by roping Amithabh Bachchan as the brand ambassador. The brand knew that it is fighting with large and powerful brands like Scorpio, Fortuner, Safari etc and needs a trump card to get even with these established  brands. The roping in of Big B was a masterstroke and has given a terrific boost to the launch.
The fourth factor was the price. Force One has priced itself at around Rs 10 lakh. I am not sure about the effectiveness of the pricing strategy because it seems little pricey compared to Indian counterparts but not that much as compared to foreign brands. But my gut feeling is that it has not hit the sweet spot in the pricing and would have excited the market had it started of with a price of Rs 8 lakh. However, the Mercedes engine may be the reason for this confident pricing of Force One. It is to see whether Indian consumer is willing to pay that much for a new Indian SUV.
With Bachchan as the brand ambassador, one would wonder how the brand is going to structure its message. Force One had to convey a feel of ruggedness and premiumness inorder to gain consumer interest. The presence of Big B will assure eye-balls but if the communication is not right, people are going criticize the effort.
In the advertising front, the approach of Force One was surprising. I expected something that would project an international look and feel , something of the sort of a Reid and Taylor campaign highlighting the brand ambassador. But Force One took a very different route.
Watch the campaign here : Force one Kids, Force One Clean

The ads are very Indian and focuses on one aspect- Force. The brand has adopted the tagline " Be The Force " . In the ad, Big B says "India mein sirf Force hi Chalta Hai " meaning " In India only Force will work " . This message really strikes a chord with the consumers mind since everyone have felt this at some point in his life in India. 
With regard to the brand promotion, it is interesting to observe that the brand deliberately chose not to project itself as a premium. The brand I think is targeting those consumers who are pissed off by Indian roads. The brand is talking to the prospective sedan buyers and telling them that only a beast will survive in Indian roads.
The brand has started on a rugged communication route hence it has virtually closed its doors on premiumness. Infact this soundness of this strategy is validated by the launch campaign of Mahindra's X500 which calls itself a Cheetah. The brand has chosen  " Powerful " as its USP and uses the analogy of " Force " to communicate its positioning. The role of the ads for automobiles serve as a bait for the consumers for a test drive. No on buys a car just because of the ads. The product will sell itself if it excites the consumers and the influencers. 
Force Motors is a new entrant to the passenger segment. Like its peers Tata Motors and Mahindra, Force will also be perceived as a commercial vehicle manufacturer and the lack of expertise in the passenger car market will be the Achilles' heel for this company.Product Quality and quality  of its after-sales service is going to be very critical in the success of this brand. The brand has got its basics correct. This will be an interesting story to watch.  

7 comments:

  1. Hi Harish,

    Nice post, interesting to know the increase in the sales of SUV's last year. MUV's are still preferred by Indian customers in general, Xylo and Innova have a great demand but certainly Force Motors has made a good move to launch Force One, i suggest they should launch an MUV also soon.

    Now getting back to SUV business in India, Scorpio is the king no doubt, it comes in more than 12 ranges and starts right from 7.5 lac and goes till 11.7 lac (ex showroom prices only). Other popular SUV's include CR-V, Fortuner, Pajero, Endeavour and Captiva, these all are priced around the 20 lac range and are in a different segment than Force One.

    Hence Force One competes with Scorpio and Tata Dicor mainly. Now Tata Dicor is not that successful a model in India but it is also priced from 8-12 lac segment just like Scorpio.

    Now, Force One starts with an ex-showroom price of Rs 10.7 lac. Hence we can safely say that it is priced around 2-3 lac higher than its competition i.e. Scorpio mainly. Now the question is will the customers buy it?

    Things which will work in its favour:

    1) The nice brand image with AB ads, the message is clear and plain that 'India main sirf force chalta hai'. The series of ads is clear and appealing and people will know that the brand is now there in the market. choosing AB is a good move i must say, as it will help command more respect for the new entrant. they need this since Force Motors is trying to project this car as an affordable luxury, using Merc engine, big yet mean looks and then pricing it higher than the competition.

    2) People want a change, people want to try out new stuff, so people will love to try out this new SUV (specially with the Merc engine) and the nice looks (they are ready to pay the extra 2-3 lacs if the car is worth it)

    Points against this car:

    1) People too cautious about the specs or on fixed budget might still prefer Scorpio. Feature/price comparison wise, Scorpio scores over Force One. If the reviews of the car are great, and if it has great shockers, smooth steering controls and offers a comfortable ride, then it can be a runaway success.

    All in all, i would say, the launch looks promising, the positioning and the ad campaign also look in order. This car now awaits some great reviews to make it a success.

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  2. just to add to my previous post, the car also has leather seats, so Force is trying to project this care as an affordable royal car..

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  3. I recommend it and what ever is written in the write up is absolutely correct .
    I Owen a Force one it's been a month plus I am driving the beast been to rothang pass so far did 4000 km and happy with the performance ...... Why spend 22 to 30 lakh rs when you are gating the same stuff in 12.5 ........

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  4. V Surya Kishore1:00 PM

    Its a very bold decision by the company to venture into passenger segment given the fact that it has no experience in it. Getting into passenger segment and that too entry into the niche segement is a surprise factor. I agree with you that roping in Big B is a bold move and expect to do some wonders. The problem in communication that i could see is that there is no clarity. Be the Force is a generic line and surprisingly the other part of the ad doesnt give much of the specifications of the vehicle. Better would be put this under 'wait n watch' slot. No doubt it has backing of international partnership coupled with great infrastructure and cash reserves in hand. A must watch for sure. Kishore

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