Maruti Udyog's much vaunted repositioning of WagonR seems to be paying dividends - finally. In January 2001, WagonR sales jumped 40 per cent to stand at 1,617 units, up from 961 the previous month. This is good news for the MUL brass, as the company was stuck with dwindling WagonR sales since the first flush early last year. To its credit, post October 2000 sales began creeping up - moving form 521 that month to 550 in November. In December, the company surpassed the Santro with sales of 961 units.
The WagonR was launched in December 1999 and deliveries began in end February 2000. The "original tall boy" set a record of sorts by selling 10,000 units in the first 100 days. The country's largest carmaker quickly worked out sales projections for the year on an optimistic note riding on the sales high. But the sales of WagonR promptly switched to reverse gear. In May, WagonR sales came down to 2,221 units, and in June to 1,180.
It was around the same time that the company kicked off the process of reshuffling its brands among its various advertising agencies. Rediffusion, Delhi, ceded the Rs 4-crore WagonR account to Saatchi & Saatchi, which was still trying to grapple with the loss of Hyundai Santro. The first series of WagonR ads worked out by Saatchi & Saatchi, revolving around the theme of "Challenge Boredom", had very little to offer in terms of product differentiation. This series looked like clones of the Santro Zip Drive ads - down to the protagonist, the camera angles and the basic theme of the ads.
"The real change came after we repositioned the WagonR as the multi-activity vehicle (MAV) in July 2000," said an MUL spokesperson. The executive explained that in phase one, WagonR's advertising objective was to map the product offering with consumer expectations from a car. The promise of "A car full of ideas" was based on the various innovations that the car had to offer. "When we repositioned the WagonR as a 'multi-activity vehicle', we thought it was time to move beyond the product and establish the brand WagonR. The MAV campaigns have all been designed to own a unique, distinct and sustainable brand patent in consumers' mind."
So what is an MAV? "The WagonR was conceived after studying how families use a car," said the MUL executive. "Each member of a family uses the car differently. For example, the father uses the car to go to office. The mother uses the car to drop the kids to school or go shopping. The teenage son uses the car for fun. And the whole family uses the car to go places together. The WagonR was also conceived after studying where the car has to travel and how it has to travel. For example, the car has to go through heavy stop-start traffic during the day, commute between home, school, shops, market places carrying either multiple passengers or baggage or shopping bags. On weekends it has to travel out of town on highways or for a leisurely drive through the city."
The WagonR thus challenges the traditional concept of a car. "In fact, it is much more than a car. It is a car, a station wagon, a van, a covered pickup, all rolled into one. That's why it is called a multi-activity vehicle," he said.
Not a bad idea at all since it has been able to bring the smile back on the faces of MUL's marketing executives. Overall sales are up and the WagonR has done 24,000 since launch. "The various promos we devised around the car and other below-the-line activities are beginning to have their effect finally. We are certain about reaching our targets this year," said an upbeat executive at MUL's corporate office in New Delhi.
© 2001 agencyfaqs!First Published : February 16, 2001