Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Brand Update : Maruti Attempts Channel Differentiation using Nexa and Arena

In 2015, Maruti launched a new channel to cater to the company's foray into the premium four-wheeler segment. The new channel was branded as Nexa. Nexa catered to the premium range of cars from Maruti like Baleno, Brezza, Ciaz etc. The Nexa showrooms were designed to project a premium feel for the segment of customers that prefer premium cars.

It was a challenging move for the company because the multi-channel strategy has its share of problems like organizational challenges, differentiation challenges, channel conflict, redundancy etc. The need for a premium channel arose because Maruti started off as a maker of affordable cars. Its range of cars was never targeting the premium segment. Some of the earlier forays of Maruti into the premium segment also failed to achieve traction. 

Recently the company tasted its success with the mid-range and premium segment with some smart brand launches. Having a premium channel like Nexa enabled to company to give a different kind of experience to this segment.
In 2017, the company rebranded its traditional channel to Maruti Arena which sells the mass market brands like Alto, Wagon-R etc. The company also have a commercial channel and True Value channel for used cars. 

In theory, the company has followed a Marketing Channel Segment Differentiation strategy where the channels differ in terms of the customer segment which they cater. Another type of channel differentiation is Task Differentiation where the channel members differ in terms of the tasks they perform. 
Although the company has tried to create channel differentiation, there is still overlaps in terms of products. While some brands are exclusive to Nexa, some are available in both the outlets which can create potential channel conflict. Marketing Channel differentiation based on segments works well when there is a minimum overlap of characteristics across segments. Here in the case of automobiles, there is bound to be segment overlaps because of pricing overlaps as well as aspirational factors. We can see that the price of high-end variants of hatchbacks is equal to the price of certain mid-size entry-level variants. So the firms who have a channel differentiation strategy should ensure that these overlaps be kept a minimum.

 But with the huge market share and product sales, the channel members at this point of time may not be complaining too much about the cannibalization of sales. 

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