The tale of how Suzuki achieved long over-due success as a premium player in India
Maruti Suzuki is India’s leading automobile manufacturer and for good reason — 5 out of 10 cars sold in one of the World’s fastest growing automobile markets has the Suzuki badge on it. A look into the history books will tell us that Suzuki was among the first Global Manufacturers to enter Indian shores. Needless to say that the brand has made full use of its First Mover advantage ( Maruti Suzuki is a Joint Venture in India).
The Japanese manufacturer which has struggled to make its presence felt globally, is the undisputed king of the Indian market. There are several reasons which contribute to this — it manufacturers Compact cars which are Fuel efficient, which look trendy & which are fun to drive ( In that order, where Fuel Efficiency is of utmost priority)
However, there was one particular segment where the brand image of Suzuki as the maker of Affordable, Fuel efficient automobiles acted against it. The brand miserably failed in the Premium Segment.
Suzuki was always going to face an uphill battle to take on premium mid-sized sedans from Honda or Toyota . This is because the customers of Suzuki could not imagine buying a car at that price point from it, because of the perception that it was a brand which only produces excellent small cars ( entry level hatchbacks). Normally that’s a good thing ( Suzuki does have a market share close to 50%) but, this perception affected any attempt made by the brand to move up the chain.
The Indian car buyer was more focused on extracting maximum bang for buck from his car and so naturally, Fuel Efficiency was the most important parameter back then. However, as Indian buyers became more sophisticated and with large disposable income available, Suzuki realized that there is scope to further extend it’s iron grip on the market.
Thus, the Marketing gurus at Suzuki worked their magic and decided to start a new chain of dealerships called— Nexa, which would be selling it’s more premium offerings. I initially dismissed this move from Suzuki and felt it was going to take a lot more than a fancy dealership to turn customer heads and to make them do something they hadn’t done thus far — Accept Suzuki as a premium player.
How wrong could I have been? Sure, for starters, Nexa is only a premium retail channel and so naturally, the cars are only sold with the Suzuki badge. However, extreme care has been taken in the entire buying process — right from the moment a potential buyer walks into the store till he leaves it. Looking at the huge success of the cars sold from the Nexa dealerships, Suzuki has definitely struck gold.
Suzuki clearly left no stone unturned, focusing on every aspect of its new offerings — Looks, Performance, and the rich experience offered to customers at the dealership.
All the new cars sold through Nexa have achieved huge success that is so typical of any Suzuki vehicle sold in India. The difference being that most of these cars are premium in nature. The Suzuki Ciaz which takes the fight to the likes of the Honda City, Toyota Corolla is now the new segment leader.
However,the biggest success of Nexa is to shatter the perception that Suzuki cannot master the art of selling premium vehicles.
The Indian customer will now confidently walk into a Nexa dealership and choose the car of his / her dreams and not think twice about the decision to choose the Suzuki badge over a VW or a Honda.
The fact that Nexa has allowed the Suzuki badge to be spoken in the same breath as a Honda, VW or a Toyota, could yet lay the foundation for Suzuki to achieve unprecedented success in the premium segment.
Five years back, if had you asked me whether I would be interested in buying a mid-size sedan from Suzuki, which is pitted against the likes of the Hondas and Toyotas of the world, I would have politely refused( however good Suzuki’s offering was).
Thanks to Nexa, Suzuki has carved the premium segment wide open. The other brands need to act fast or else they run the risk of ceding their position to the runaway market leader.
Thank you for reading :)
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