Ashee Sharma

"The new Vento is for people who want to buy their 'first big car'": Kamal Basu, Volkswagen

German engineering takes a back seat as the new Volkswagen Vento steers its way into people's hearts, this time with 'love'.

'Love isn't blind. In fact, it's got quite the eye for detail' - this detail is captured in the new Volkswagen Vento. The German luxury carmaker recently revealed the Vento facelift and is positioning the revamped model as a thoughtful offering for the Indian customer. Without harping on the functionalities of the notchback, the television campaign, executed by DDB Mudra, showcases the 'experience' that the design makeover has brought to it.

Shedding light on the need for this facelift, Kamal Basu, head of marketing and public relations, Volkswagen passenger cars, says that auto manufactures tend to refresh their products frequently because there's always a section of people who want something new. "We, at Volkswagen, are in constant touch with our customers, interacting with them at our dealerships or through focus group discussions very often. The aim is to find out how their tastes and needs are changing. We also try to find out from people who either bought or rejected our cars, the reason behind doing so," informs Basu.

"The new Vento is for people who want to buy their 'first big car'": Kamal Basu, Volkswagen
"The new Vento is for people who want to buy their 'first big car'": Kamal Basu, Volkswagen
"These studies throw up the gaps that we face as a brand, and we found that while our products tend to surpass expectation when it comes to performance, build, quality and safety, there are some challenges in the area of design and look. That's where the new Vento fits in," he adds.
"The new Vento is for people who want to buy their 'first big car'": Kamal Basu, Volkswagen

In 2014, Volkswagen re-launched the Polo, while the new Jetta was revealed in February this year. Gaining momentum from what the company claims as a "tremendous response", the work on the Vento facelift began two years ago. Over the next 24 months, five new launches have been planned by the auto major. In addition to its iconic brand Beetle and the mid-size sedan Passat, it will also foray into the fast growing SUV segment in India with the Tiguan.

The new Vento, which starts at 7.70 lakh, maintains its core audience as people in the age group of 30-45 years. "We are talking to people who are moving up in life, they are on a journey and have reached a certain level. The new Vento is for people who want to buy their first big car," Basu states.

The campaign was designed keeping in mind insight from an in -depth consumer study which suggested that the new Vento buyer is a family person who appreciates both substance and design. Rahul Mathew, creative head, DDB Mudra West, comments , “Going the family way is often seen as going away from all that’s fun. But actually that’s a choice, not the rule. The new Vento makes sure that it’s a choice you don’t have to make when it comes to your car. And that’s what we tried to capture in the commercial; a man who sees the fun side to the responsibilities of a father.”

Going Unmetro

Speaking at the Dainik Bhaskar Unmetro Conclave, earlier this year, Basu had emphasised on the importance of smaller cities for marketers. The unmetros, he reiterates, is critical to this launch as well.

"The Polo and Vento are our volume brands, though we sell Polo more aggressively in the smaller towns. The higher penetration of the brand in these places is purely determined by the price," he explains.

At the conclave, he had also pointed out that, among the other challenges posed by unmetros, reaching through an unorganised media is a big one. To counter this, radio has been incorporated as part of the media strategy in some cities. Outdoor advertising and BTL activation, such as the 'Float' campaigns, where cars are put in an open truck and taken around the mini-metros for people to have a look at them, are also playing a significant role. However, in doing so, "the premium imagery of the brand is maintained across all communication," Basu informs.

Spends for the campaign have been distributed equally between the metros and smaller towns. While the ATL and BTL budgets are also comparable on an ongoing basis, the focus will be on ATL during the initial phases of the launch. Print innovations are also lined up with The Times of India and The Hindu and Deccan Chronicle, down South.

Perpetual Learning

Before joining Volkswagen, Basu was the marketing head of Skoda Auto India. Though the area of work is similar, he finds the brands very different in terms of scale. "At Skoda, it was predominantly the Rapid, and later the Octavia was launched. But here, the Polo and Vento were already active," he notes.

Basu has also spent two decades with various agencies, before his love for cars brought him to the client side of the business. His experience with the former gave him an understanding of the customer, which he believes is most important from a marketing perspective. Although the lessons are transferable, Basu still thinks of himself as a student.

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