The D-segment in the Indian car market is gearing up for some swashbuckling action. Honda Siel Cars (India) made its debut yesterday with the launch of the Accord in Delhi. With competition in the form General Motors (Vectra), Hyundai (Sonata), Telco (Magna), Skoda (Octavia), Ford (Mondeo) eyeing the market, the company has lined up a snazzy launch campaign to make the most of it first mover advantage. The launch budget: Rs 6 crore, to be spent over the next three months. The agency: Everest Integrated Communications, Delhi.
The Accord television commercials are slated to break today. And so is the print campaign. "But the process of generating awareness started much earlier," pointed out Ananda Mohan Gupta, general manager, marketing, Honda. He said that the company kicked off its below-the-line activities well in advance targeting the Honda City owners.
"As we saw it, since the City is a three-year-old car, many of the owners would be ready for an upgrade, " he said. "While they could go for an upgraded version of the City itself, we wanted to tell them that now they have another choice in the Accord. So we did our first mail-shot in May aimed at the thirty-odd thousand City owners asking them to fill up a form stating whether they would want to more about the Accord." Another set of mailers went out to a group of people identified from the usual source - credit card databases, added Ajit Shah, president of Everest and head of the agency's Delhi office. Around 4,000 responses came through with enquiries about the company's new offering. "Obviously we could have told them all the details about the new car till the launch. Now we are going to send them a CD-ROM complete with all the details," said Gupta.
In its television commercials and the print campaign, the company will steer clear of the luxury platform and harp on "Style & Substance" instead. "There is a problem in talking about luxury. For the aficionado, the ultimate in luxury is the Mercedes. So when you talk luxury, the obvious question is: Are you comparable with the Merc? So, what we are saying is luxury is not skin deep, it's not about designer upholstery. Luxury is what lies behind the wheels, luxury is about the engineering, and the heritage. And that's what the Accord stands for."
The company has set aside an ad budget of Rs 10-12-crore for the first year of launch. Talking about the media skew, Gupta said, "It will be split 50:50 between print and TV. We are very clear that we are not looking at channels and magazines with a mass-kind of appeal. We will be focused in our efforts, especially on TV, where we are going to target channels like CNN, BBC, and CNBC, that give us the right audience."
Honda is looking at a sales figure of 2,500 Accords in the first one year. Gupta said that the company hopes to break even by March 2002 and the break-even point for his company is 11,000 City cars.
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