Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Tata Motors does a TAMO

Brand: TAMO
Company : Tata Motors

Brand Analysis Count: # 574

On February 2, 2017, Tata Motors announced the launch of a new sub-brand TAMO. According to the Tata Motors website, TAMO  will be 
TAMO as a new, separated vertical will operate in the first step on a low volume, low investment model to provide fast tracked proves of technologies and concepts.
This is a significant move for Tata Motors who has been trying all sorts of strategy to move up the value chain. The Tata Motors has been stuck with the utility vehicle maker tag in the Indian market for long. The perception has affected the premium brands like Aria, Safari etc in getting customer interest and adoption. 

 My preliminary understanding is that Tata Motors will use TAMO to launch high-end niche products like the sports car, luxury sedans etc to break away from the existing perception of a low-cost utility car maker. Tata Motors probably is trying to adapt the much-discussed strategy of Japanese carmaker's strategy of entering the USA premium market through new brands like Accura, Infinity etc.

But in all reports about TAMO and even in the company website, the TAMO brand is categorized as a sub-brand. If Tata Motors is any way serious about positioning TAMO different from the existing perception of Tata Motors, the sub-brand strategy is not a wise move.

Sub-brands are almost always used alongside a parent brand. So if TAMO is a sub-brand, it would be endorsed by Tata Motors. So if TAMO's main purpose is to break away from Tata's existing image, the sub-brand strategy will not work.
On the other hand, if Tata wants to launch products like sports car using a sub-brand strategy, then I wonder whether customers would really be open to paying a premium for a Tata car. A parallel can be drawn with Maruti Suzuki launching a premium distribution network Nexa to launch its premium cars but later diluted the premium by adding cars like Ignis which starts at Rs 5 lakh.

One bold move would be that TAMO launched as an independent brand of niche products without any endorsement from Tata Motors. It's too early to comment on how Tata Motors plan to position TAMO, but that would be a story worth watching for.