Maruti Suzuki Eeco: One for the family

By Antara Ghosal , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | February 08, 2010
Maruti Suzuki will shell out Rs 15-20 crore to market its new car, Eeco, which is priced at Rs 2.59 lakh and targets users of A2 segment cars and other Omni users who are keen on upgrading their vehicles

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.

Explaining the reasons for coming out with yet another van, Shashank Srivastava, chief general manager, marketing, Maruti Suzuki remarks that there is a huge demand for van type vehicles in the market, adding that there are two categories of customers who opt for vans. One category needs a powerful, fuel efficient business vehicle, which must be within their budgets and may or may not be very comfortable. The other lot yearns for a spacious, comfortable family car with a powerful engine but compromises with an A2 segment car such as the WagonR or Santro due to the cost involved. "Eeco is designed to serve both the categories," Srivastava says.

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.

"We understand that there will be cannibalisation to some extent in the segment but we will try to guard against it and increase the number of our overall customers," Srivastava tells afaqs!. "Already, there is a market for 7,000 to 8,000 such vehicles per month. Now, with Eeco, we are expecting the numbers to touch the 11,000-12,000 mark."

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.

According to the ad agency, since the Eeco is a family car, the campaign thought had to revolve around a family. "We tried making the family as unique as possible, to make it different. It was also important to ensure that the artists we use already have an established personality and a mass appeal which is relatable across India," explains Harish Arora, executive creative director, Dentsu Creative Impact. This was achieved by bringing together some of the most popular comedians and veteran artists across generations and genres. The humour element was further enhanced by the addition of an animated pet to the family.

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.

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