Aishwarya Ramesh
Marketing

"Customers see cars as a 'safe bubble' for their families": Vivek Srivatsa, Tata Motors

He also mentioned that Tata Motors is seeing an increase in first-time buyers and a rise in demand for owning more than one car in a family.

Across India, shops are rolling up their shutters. Businesses are attempting to resume their operations. In the last address in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the nation, he emphasised on the importance of ‘Atmanirbharta’, or self-reliance, claiming that this is the first step towards complete independence. This is the theme of Tata Motors’ new ‘vocal for local’ initiative – explaining how the company fits in with self-sufficiency.

Vivek Srivatsa, head of marketing - passenger vehicle business unit, Tata Motors, mentions that the company had observed a surge in social media conversations around making India ’atmanirbhar’ and this campaign was aimed at this sentiment around affinity to Indian brands.

He adds that the campaign’s concept takes an adaptive approach by using an animated video for the film as a substitution for a live action version, keeping into consideration the ongoing need for physical distancing.

Srivatsa mentions that due to social distancing norms, the demand for personal mobility is increasing and customers are looking at cars as a ’safe bubble’ for their families.

Vivek Srivatsa
Vivek Srivatsa
Photo credit: Vikrant Date

“We have seen a resurgent interest in customers post lockdown to buy their own vehicles. More so, there have been two visible trends in this period. First, a visible spike in first-time buyers, and second, a rise in demand for owning more than one car in a family,” he says.

Srivatsa also emphasises on the fact that a customer wants a safe and sanitised environment for his car. “We, at Tata Motors, realised this quite early and took steps at multiple levels to assure customer safety. Starting from launching our online end to end sales platform known as ’Click to Drive’, to sharing strict SOPs with our dealer and workshop partners,” he explains.

"We have seen a resurgent interest in customers post lockdown to buy their own vehicles. More so, there have been two visible trends in this period. First, a visible spike in first-time buyers, and second, a rise in demand for owning more than one car in a family."
Vivek Srivatsa

In the interest of reassuring customers that their vehicle is in safe hands, the company also recently launched the ‘Sanitized by Tata Motors’ initiative to educate customers about standards of safety being followed at car dealerships across the country.

"Due to social distancing norms, the demand for personal mobility is increasing and customers are looking at cars as a ’safe bubble’ for their families."
Vivek Srivatsa

He also mentions that at all dealerships, discussions with customers are being done virtually, using digital tools and any meetings, if necessary, are being conducted with prior appointments and after verifying all of the customer’s requirements. “Documents for vehicle insurance and registration are being collected via mail, or specially installed drop boxes, and vehicle deliveries are being done only after all formalities are completed,” adds Srivatsa.

He also informs us that now, test drives are being offered on demand at the customer’s preferred location. As a practice, only one person drives the vehicle, with a dealer staff member sitting in the rear seat to avoid any physical contact. He adds that following every test drive, the vehicle is fully sanitised, including replacing protective covers shielding the interiors of the vehicle that come in contact while driving.

Srivatsa opines that the challenge, going forward, will be to drive up demand using marketing-led initiatives. While demand is growing when compared to the initial months since the pandemic struck, most customers still want to wait and watch for the outcome.

“The most important challenge being faced by all brands currently is to assure their customers about sanitisation and safety. We have been constantly in touch with our customers through various mediums, informing them on the precautions being taken by us at all steps,” says Srivatsa.

Despite the challenges, Srivatsa is optimistic about the upcoming festive season and mentioned that the company are witnessing some green shoots. The company has already launched an elaborate festive campaign across Kerala for Onam, which typically marks the beginning of the festival season in India.

“This will be followed by campaigns for other festivals across the country, and in respective states, where we are adopting a more regional approach for our local customers,” he adds.

At this time, people tend to suffer from overall low sentiment, so Tata Motors mentions that it is offering customers finance schemes and offers that give them the option to start with low EMIs, which will subsequently increase, depending on their ease of making payments. Tata Motors claims that its cars are the safest on the road, and also offer financing options, like long-term EMIs and 100 per cent on-road funding.