Sohini Sen

"We Target India's 'New Elite'": Sanjay Gupta, Hyundai

'Life is Brilliant', Hyundai Motor India's recently released ad campaign, has at its core the brand's first ever India-centric corporate film, one that has fetched over four million views on YouTube. The campaign is an extension of Hyundai's two year-old global campaign, 'Live Brilliant'.

What's striking about this two minute-long TVC (created by Innocean Worldwide India) is that it works hard at striking an emotional connect with the consumer; 'happiness', 'family', 'love' and 'caring' - the video packs in all these elements, an atypical tack for Hyundai.

We spoke to Sanjay Gupta, senior general manager and group marketing head, Hyundai Motor India, about the campaign, its TG, and his approach to markets beyond the metros. Interestingly, Hyundai's market share in rural India was eight per cent in 2011. As of November 2014, it is 20 per cent.

Before joining Hyundai earlier this year, Gupta worked at Toyota Kirloskar Motor for five years, prior to which he was with Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India.

Edited Excerpts.

Edited Excerpts

This is the first time Hyundai has released a film that's so high on the 'EQ'. What led to it?

Hyundai releases such brand films, globally, once every few years. However, our research showed us that there is some disconnect with the people in India. We needed to focus on what Hyundai means to consumers here.

While creating this film, we made sure to keep it simple, real and relatable.

"We Target India's 'New Elite'": Sanjay Gupta, Hyundai
People either relate to the product benefit or to what the brand does for them. Several auto brands have taken the latter route, like Maruti with 'India comes home in a Maruti' and Hero Honda with Desh ki Dhadkan.
Are you targeting a new set of consumers through this film?

This campaign targets the educated 30-40 year old, who has a family, and is from a more 'contemporary' profession. He/she has freedom of thought and does not believe in old rituals - note that in the film, the woman is working away from the family and the man is taking care of their son. Our TG is a person who would aspire for this kind of life.

Overall, Hyundai targets the young consumer, with an urban outlook, who is professional in his approach and has the belief, means and ability to achieve his dreams. He belongs to a salary bracket that lets him afford the good, 'normal' things in life... but he is not a rich brat. We call him 'the new elite'.

Was your core TG always like this?

Our TG has evolved over the years. Previously he was unsure of himself; he did not possibly have the means to give shape to his dreams. But now he is confident. He belongs to 'today's India' and has the means to achieve his goals.

What is your approach towards tier II and tier III markets?

We do not break up our TG according to geography. Our consumer can be from both, urban and semi-urban settings. He could be a farmer. A mechanical farmer, not a 'buffalo farmer'. The kind of farmer who can afford modern amenities, and has the desire to eat at, say, a clean, nice eatery.

We consider the top five to six metros as tier I, the next eight to 12 markets as tier II, and beyond that is tier III. We have direct presence in all the tiers through 400+ dealerships and 1,000+ service outlets.

As far as our sales ratio goes, tier III stands at 22 per cent, and tier I and II markets together form the remaining 78 per cent. We are aiming to increase our tier III sales contribution to 30 per cent in the next two to three years.

Do tier II and III markets pose specific marketing/communication challenges for you?

The challenges are more with respect to the product lines.

Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors - (that market both commercial as well as passenger vehicles) - work well in tier II and III markets. Even Maruti, with its small car segment, has made a market for itself here. Right now, Eon is our smallest car, followed by Santro and i20. We only have a few cars in that segment, but as we introduce more models we will have a larger footprint in tier II and III towns.

You mentioned research earlier. What methodology do you usually use? Is the process typically anchored at your R&D centre in Hyderabad?

The Hyderabad R&D centre was established (2009) to better understand the needs and wants of our Indian consumer. The research findings are then sent from there to Korea. Jointly, the India and Korea teams then work on a model. Eon was a model we launched after doing local research and sending the inputs to Korea. So in a way, Eon is a completely India-focused car.

We do research online and offline, through focus group discussions and 'brand track' studies that assess the effect of our communication at various touch-points.

Auto aficionados say, since Santro is so readily associated with commuter cabs, it has lost its 'family car' appeal...

The Santro was instrumental in establishing brand Hyundai in India. Its importance has not gone down at all. Just because it is used as a taxi... that's no reason it should stop being perceived as a family car. The Toyota Corolla Altis and Camri are used as cabs in the USA and UAE. Does that mean people will not buy them?

Another way of looking at it is - a taxi owner will invest in a product that lasts him a lifetime, not just for a few years!