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How is Creativity Going to Influence Customers in Different Markets Manufacturers need to keep improvising their marketing strategies and follow the principle of 3Cs: Communicate, Connect, and Comply

By Vivek Srivatsa

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Automotive retail today is shifting from product-driven to a more customer-centric approach to drive customer loyalty and adapt to changing customer behaviour. They are increasingly realizing the value in terms of both; fulfilling their aspirational needs and practical requirements. Hence, to be a part of the buyer's consideration set we must keep in mind customer/ millennial buying trends, popular feature demands by customers, need for extending variants of well-accepted cars amongst others.

Some clever and creative customer engagement strategies that could prove effective in today's fast-changing business environment are as follows:

Digital Platforms and Social Media as Tools for Customer Engagement

Today, a customer goes through approximately 28 touch points before buying a car. Amongst these close to 21 are digital and the remaining are physical. With more than 92 per cent of the sales process beginning online, queries now come from online portals, auto classified platforms, and smartphones, which are increasingly becoming an important interface for both car buyers and auto manufacturers.

The younger generation of customers from metros, whose purchase decision is extensively influenced by the digital search, comparison of websites, and product reviews, are driving this trend.

Now more than ever before, automobile companies are embracing social media as a powerful engagement tool to gauge conversations around their brand. The user-generated content on these platforms helps to detect useful insights sought to understand consumer preferences. The tool helps to connect, share, identify questions, research influencers, and create content to effectively engage and deliver immense value to customers.

Customized Strategy in Emerging Markets

Consumers rely on personal opinion rather than 'internet opinion' in the Tier II & III cities. Therefore, the sales force of an automotive company should be well prepared to engage with this cohort and educate them about its product portfolio. Given that these markets are definite growth drivers of the future, engaging marketing strategies will help in the successful ascension of market share here. How Tata Motors customizes its experiential campaigns in these cities by targeting 'personal opinion' of specific communities comprising professionals such as teachers, doctors, lawyers and business persons, is what works the most in such cities. Hence, ground activations are an ideal tool to create a great impression in these markets and give brands an opportunity to take the product to the customer. Product engagement helps in building the confidence among the target consumers, as it gives them an opportunity to touch, feel, and personally experience the product and further increases the chances of it being in their top choice for a buying decision.

Engaging with Urban Customers

The customer profile in an urban or Tier 1 market is different than that of smaller towns. So, the marketing or engagement strategies applied here should not be customized, but instead needs to have a broader approach. Given the diversity and vastness of big cities, tools like mass invites not targeted to a specific group or community, work well compared to customized product engagement.

Therefore, to effectively communicate a message to the audience, it is crucial to leverage interconnectedness of all mediums. Following a 360-degree approach and being present across mediums including TV, Print, Stills, Digital, Mobile, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, engagement marketing; all of which are feeding off each other and do not exist in isolation, is ideal.

Realising not all consumers flock to stores, Tata Motors is now experimenting a lot with virtual and experiential activities. We have set up virtual showrooms in malls using AR and VR technology and also hosted various nation-wide unique experiential programmes like the Hexa Experience Centre, Tata Motors Experience Centre and the Nexon Skill Arena. Initiatives like these lead to building relationships with customers who are not just satisfied or delighted but are 'devoted'.

Manufacturers need to keep improvising their marketing strategies and follow the principle of 3Cs: Communicate, Connect, and Comply. Showcasing products in the right manner to customers will not only enhance the brand but also simultaneously align well with the rising aspirations of customer segments.

To conclude, while every book in marketing will tell you to go for the close; the key to entering every customer's mindset is to create worthy memories that translate into buying.

Vivek Srivatsa

Head of Marketing Passenger Vehicles, Tata Motors

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