Is it a higher version of Omni or a lower version of Versa? Is it a family car or a trader's vehicle? Does it cost Rs 3 lakh or is it worth Rs 4 lakh? Speculation was rife ever since Maruti Suzuki unveiled its plans to launch an economic car in the C-segment. However, with the Eeco finally hitting the market and making its communication debut, it seems to be the end of wagging tongues.
The Eeco is Maruti Suzuki's second car after the Omni in its C-segment. It has a starting price of Rs 2.59 lakh and is available in two versions, with seating capacities of five and seven passengers, respectively. The car has a fuel efficient 1200 cc engine and comes in six different colours.
Also, the company has found that Omni users often replace their vehicles with another Omni, rather than going for a new model. Srivastava claims 56 per cent of repurchase in this segment. He says that this is where the Eeco, with its flexibility and utility, will step in.
With the recent phase-out of the Maruti Versa, another microvan in the same segment, there were perceptions that the Eeco is a substitute for the model. However, executives at Maruti Suzuki shrug off such assumptions. Srivastava categorically states that the "Eeco is not a replacement for the Versa. It is a new model with a new engine, a different transmission and suspension system and a different seating arrangement. The only thing that one may find similar is the 'looks', that too because vans cannot look any different. Vans, all over the world, have the same 'boxy' look."
Maruti Suzuki has elaborate plans to position the Eeco in a way such that it maintains individuality and succeeds in attracting its TG (target group). It is being touted as an upgrade of the Omni, which has value for money, spacious interiors and useful features such as air conditioning and a more powerful engine. The aim is to showcase both the aspiration factor and the ease of usage.
At a time when the Omni is being used as a business vehicle in most urban markets, the Eeco is being positioned as a family car. The positioning statement, 'Happiness family size', reinforces the claim. "Eeco is being projected as a family car primarily to woo the A2 segment car users, our prime TG (target group), who actually need a big spacious car for their families but do not have much choice because of the expensive options available."
The company is spending Rs 15-20 crore to market the Eeco. About 80-85 per cent of this amount is allocated to ATL (above the line) activities, which include its presence on television, radio and print. The rest is to be spent on BTL (below-the-line) activities, which the company is admittedly very serious about, particularly in lower-tier towns and semi-urban areas. For customers in smaller cities, the company shall carry out road shows and showcase the model in different corporate offices and call centres.
When it comes to other car models, Maruti Suzuki pays attention to digital marketing in particular, spending about Rs 8 crore in the online space. However, for the Eeco, it does not have any such plan at the moment. "We are just establishing the brand. We will plan further only after understanding the customers' reaction," adds Srivastava.
The creative insight
Conceptualised by Dentsu Creative Impact and produced by Keroscene, the television campaign establishes the Eeco as a family car, cut out for the great Indian joint family in terms of its spacious interiors and luxurious features.
A funny quirky family, especially crafted for the campaign, introduces the car to the audience in the backdrop of its daily life situations. Incidentally, all the members of the family are popular characters of different comedy shows on television, which makes the TVC look like an episode of a sitcom. Also, there is an animated dog, Kartoon, in the family which, with its unique character, adds to the overall comic banter of the family.
The campaign broke in the form of a 20 second trailer, which introduced the Eeco to the viewers and showed them a glimpse of the members of the Eeco family. This has been followed by a 45 second launch film, where the car comes home and viewers get introduced to the Eeco family, along with the quirks of the various family members. The launch film will probably be followed by several other TVCs taking forward the story of the Eeco family.
The brief given to the agency was to create a communication for the Eeco which revolves around a family and a slice of their life (situations such as holidays, picnics, weddings and receiving guests). The idea was to make the car an integral part of the family and thereby create a buzz for the brand through relatable situations and unique executions.
For the record, Maruti Suzuki claims to have received almost 80,000 enquiries for the Eeco this month, followed by a booking of 6,000 vehicles; its retail delivery has crossed the 3,000 mark and another 3,000 is in the waiting.