Shashank Srivastava breaks down the brand’s Rs 20 crore festive ad budget.
Maruti Suzuki Arena is embracing the diversity of India's cultural tapestry with a targeted regional approach and vernacular communication strategy in their latest brand campaign, titled Find Your Match. The campaign marks a departure from traditional advertising paradigms, focusing on fostering meaningful connections with customers beyond mere car ownership.
The four new ad films, coinciding with the occasions of Navratri, Durga Puja, and Dussehra, are aimed at resonating deeply with audiences across the country. By leveraging General Entertainment Channels (GECs), Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms, and digital mediums, the brand aims to weave its narrative into the very fabric of India's diverse celebrations. The campaign will include a total of 12 films centred around Indian festivals.
The series is a follow-up sequence to an earlier campaign that the brand launched to celebrate the sixth anniversary of Maruti Suzuki Arena. The overarching Find your Match campaign saw the light of the day last month. Since then, the brand has added to the campaign with multiple ad films, embracing the celebrations of this year’s festive season.
Shashank Srivastava, who is the executive director at Maruti Suzuki India, points out that the entire campaign stemmed from a consumer insight. He says, “For the younger buyers of Arena, we find that cars are not just a possession, but it's sort of a relationship transcending mere functionality. It reflects their attitudes, their personalities, and their way of life. With this insight, we started the campaign Find your match, which enables consumers to find the right match from our Arena portfolio.”
Maruti Suzuki Arena, which sees an inflow of first-time buyers and younger cohorts of the country, currently boasts a lineup of 2 SUVs, 4 hatchbacks, 1 sedan, and 2 MUVs.
The brand intent behind the vernacular push, as per Srivastava, is to optimise the diversity of India exuded by the nation during the festive season. The brand started its regional push with Onam back in August. Since then, Maruti Suzuki Arena has unveiled multiple vernacular TVCs for diverse festivals including Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Navaratri, and Bathukamma. The plan is to include all major festivals as months progress.
These are the markets which are very strong for us. So, it's obvious that we will first go to these markets. Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Bengal, for example, are very large markets for Arena.
Srivastava explains, “In fact, we have twelve ad films in the lineup. We'll carry on our festive advertising till Lohri, which is in January, and then Ugadi, which is a Karnataka festival till the end of March.”
Interestingly, the nuanced regional approach underscores Maruti Suzuki Arena's market priorities in terms of states or regions where the brand sees major business.
Srivastava points out, “These are the markets which are very strong for us. So, it's obvious that we will first go to these markets. Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Bengal, for example, are very large markets for Arena. So, it was sort of obvious that in our media plan and our entire plan for communication, these states will have priority and we have therefore chosen these states.”
With the new campaign, the brand is aiming to employ various channels for advertising. While TV still dominates the ad spends from Maruti Suzuki Arena, OTT and Digital aren’t far behind. Srivastava points out that over the years, OTT has become a prominent channel for Arena, especially because of the younger consumers who show interest in the brand. The rough estimate of the total ad spends with this vernacular push amounts to Rs 20 crore.
He says, “Our overall spend is roughly about 20 crore. Television amounts to more than 10 crore. OTT and digital are also pretty strong for us, so we are allocating roughly 8 crore for these channels.”
For Ganesh Chaturthi, the brand looked at about 1000 spots across 10 Marathi channels. The OTT plan was to target 4.7 million impressions and about 4 million views. "We also went to Marathi language properties through YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, targeting 14 million impressions.”
The Rs 20 crore spends on the vernacular films is in addition to Rs 16 crore for the initial Find your Match campaign, featuring Varun Dhawan.
The brand boasts a strong foothold across the country, but Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh still top its major markets list. Srivastava elaborates, “In terms of volumes, the major business comes from Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. Then we have Karnataka, Gujarat and Kerala. These are our top five markets.”
We have just gone past the halfway mark in September (since April), and the industry has clocked 2.7 million unit sales, which is the first time ever.
The auto industry has seen a good year in terms of numbers. For Maruti Suzuki, the past few months have been of remarkable success, as per Srivastava. He says, “We have just gone past the halfway mark in September (since April), and the industry has clocked 2.7 million unit sales, which is the first time ever. If you look at January to September, it has crossed the 3 million mark, again for the first time. In that sense, I think we have had a great run for the last nine months. It is expected that the industry will end at around 4.1 million units this year.”
Maruti Suzuki’s local market share has gone up due to a consistent 10% growth. “Our competition has grown only 5%, and as a result, our market share has gone up to almost 43%.”
With how Indian consumers are evolving, there is a discernible trajectory towards premiumisation across almost all product categories. According to Srivastava, the discerning Indian consumer is embracing a new era marked by premiumisation, a trend notably witnessed across diverse sectors, from smartphones to fast-moving consumer goods, and now, the automotive industry.
It's clear that there is premiumisation both in terms of the consumer choices for features and technology and for the body type which is largely SUVs.
Two conspicuous trends have emerged amidst this shift. He says, “Firstly, there is a resounding preference for SUVs, characterised by their commanding road presence, elevated ground clearance, and adaptable interior spaces. In September, a staggering 52% of the industry's passenger vehicles were SUVs, underscoring their newfound popularity.”
Srivastava also highlights the transformative change in price dynamics in the industry. The erstwhile dominant under Rs 10 lakh segment has relinquished its monopoly, now constituting a mere 57-58% of the market, down from an overwhelming 85% three and a half years ago. Conversely, the Rs 10 to 20 lakh segment has experienced a remarkable surge, signifying a shift towards mid-range premium vehicles.
“It's clear that there is premiumisation both in terms of the consumer choices for features and technology and for the body type which is largely SUVs. Clearly, these two trends are visible."