Anirban Roy Choudhury

"We've seen an increase in the number of self-employed customers": Vivek Srivatsa, Tata Motors

An interview with Vivek Srivatsa, head, marketing, passenger vehicle business unit, Tata Motors.

This interview is part of our Marketers' Special Issue - afaqs!Reporter magazine, June 15, 2017. The piece has three broad segments - Category, Marketing and Advertising. Edited Excerpts.

Edited Excerpts

Review the last 12 months - for the category and the company. What are the big challenges that you see coming your way in the next 12 months?

Tata Motors has embarked on a transformation journey with a well-defined passenger vehicle strategy and a robust product pipeline. We aim to be among the top three passenger vehicle manufacturers by 2019.

In the past few quarters, we have grown faster than the industry and our renewed focus on design is helping recapture consumer attention and strengthen our brand proposition. Tiago and our flagship product Hexa, launched under the Impact Design philosophy, have received a great response. We recently launched Tigor, India's first 'styleback'; a product that stands for the company's relentless focus on making an impact in the passenger vehicle market.

Going forward, in order to cater to the ever-evolving customer needs, we will focus not only on revamping our product portfolio, but also on adopting processes that are customer-centric in nature. We will enhance customer purchase experiences and levels of engagement while constantly upgrading the 'delight quotient'. Our focus will be on getting our customers to touch, feel and experience our products. A large part of our consumer marketing efforts will be in this direction.

Have there been any geographical/demographical shifts - effort driven or incidental - in the demand for and consumption of your product?

Consumption patterns depend on three factors - styling, mileage and brand reputation. Today, 65 per cent of our customers are less than 35 of age and more than 50 per cent are less than 25 years of age. Customers are young and their reference points are different; they look for cars that are feature-rich and stylish, in addition to being powerful. We have seen an increase in customers who are self-employed by seven per cent last year. An increase in monthly household income represents a rise in customer affluence.

Where will your next million/5 million/10 million consumers come from? And what will you do to get them

Consumers are getting younger across categories and it's the same for automobiles. At Tata Motors, our intent is to create products and solutions that catch the eye and appeal to the younger generation. So we need to deliver designs that are contemporary, exciting and easy to use. We need to talk to them through media that is relevant and in a style of communication that is relatable.

In what way has the quality/quantity of information/data you receive about your consumers changed over the past 12 months? Has this change led to any tangible impact on your marketing decisions?

The biggest change has been the sheer amount of data that is available to us - about our prospects, customers and markets. The marketing team needs to become adept at using information and data the right way, to be able to anticipate customer needs and behaviour.

What is your lead medium of communication today? Why?

Today, to effectively communicate a certain message to an audience, one needs to leverage the inter-connectedness of all mediums - TV, print, stills, digital, mobile, augmented reality, virtual reality, etc. all feed off one other; they do not exist in isolation. Experiential marketing is another important leg; we believe on-ground activations create great impressions.

Marketers today deal with way too many external brand custodians - agree? What can be done about it?

We are not aligned with any one particular agency and choose on the basis of the most suitable proposal for each initiative.

In what way has your expectation from your agency partners - creative and media planning/buying - changed of late? And what's the biggest change in the way you deal with them?

We work very closely with our agency partners and involve them early in our plans. We seek creative as well as strategic inputs from them. We expect our agency to understand the brand deeply and deliver on time. We are always keen to try something new and innovative which will complement our brands and to work on some great marketing concepts and campaigns.