Sunday, March 21, 2010

Guest Lecture by Mr. Ravindra Shahane- 16th March

Cadbury Dairy Milk , Parle G ,Hamara Bajaj , Ye dil maange more Or I may say NOTHING ELSE WILL DO , THE ERA OF SEDAN’S IS OVER. Some brands attract so much awe that most of us forget to look beyond the brand per se. Every generation has its own set of cult brands which define the consumer preference in a flash.

Many complain that the Gen X and Gen Y have become used to excessive exposure to brands and the brand life has shrunk considerably. This many take as the legal reason of ever expanding portfolio of many businesses. Such myths were put to rest this Tuesday at SJMSOM when the distinguished team from Mahindra and Mahindra unfurled the secrets of Brand Management and Portfolio management to the students and shared the story behind the success of SCORPIO, BOLERO and XYLO brands. The team comprised of Mr Ravindra Shahane, Miss Deepa Arjunan & Srijith Jagdish who had varied set of interests and responsibilities and the interaction provided an unique opportunity to see how various stakeholders gel to make a brand success. Mr Shahane was instrumental in making Bolero the no.1 SUV in the Indian market and is currently handling the XYLO brand. He gave us insights into how the entire idea of Scorpio originated from a market survey of Bolero users. He gave insights into how Bolero was rechristened into its new avatar and what all back end work was done to impose its renewed image. 

The buzzing question amongst the students regarding the internal cannibalization between Bolero and Scorpio was dispelled when Mr shahane talked about the segmentation and positioning efforts that M&M had put before launch of Scorpio. He illustrated on how Bolero has been targeted at town customers who are graduating to a new Bolero, this helped them to position Bolero as an entry level SUV. The talk was made lively by the video clippings that M&M have used in the past to promote Bolero and Scorpio. Scorpio according to him was designed for the aspiration of young professionals with the “NOTHING ELSE WILL DO “attitude. The concept of directly taking on cars segment in terms of luxury, restoring ruggedness and the power associated with an SUV was the idea behind Scorpio. This idea was backed with a lot of product innovation and features that were added to Scorpio which helped M&M to position Scorpio as a High end SUV with luxury and style associated with it. 

Mr Shahane also enlightened us with the extensive methodology that is followed at M&M before launching a new product . With reference to XYLO he explained how hundreds of M&M marketers went on to live with the customers observing their daily activities and discussing their needs to better understand what a customer wants in a product. This all effort culminates when marketers and all other stakeholders in a firm sit to identify a gap between the customer needs and the products in the market which the new product can cater to.  The feature to customer preference matrix clearly depicted why XYLO was destined to succeed. The positioning of XYLO in the MUV segment and challenges faced from Innova and Tavera, the other players in the market were analysed based on the matrix. His insights on the threats from foreign entrants in the SUV/MUV segment of automobiles and how it is different when an Indian firm launches a new product in the market vis-à-vis a foreign player coming up with a new product were very enlightening . 

Miss Deepa talked more on brand positioning and communication. She talked about how the advertisements related to Scorpio , Bolero and Xylo originated  . The conceptualization of the commercials for both Scorpio and Xylo were more on the aspirational quotient and how Xylo is being targeted at young achievers who want best of everything they buy . The online initiative before the launch of Xylo and pre launch advertisements putting forth “THE ERA OF SEDAN’S IS OVER “ attracted a lot of why’s and how’s from the audience . She also stressed on how Scorpio winning toughest terrain rallies across the globe is being used in communications. The stories behind the making of most of the advertisements were very enjoyable. She also talked about how people see Scorpio as their identity. The special editions of Scorpio being a run-away success proved her right.

If the conceptualization and communication part was not enough to flatter the students , Mr Srijith put forth the sales side of the story . Maintaining a uniform appeal at every touch point with the customers is important but to know that M&M paid such extra attention would have surely taken it to the Dream firm list  of many sitting there . Mr Srijith explained how M&M created a shop within shop environment at their dealers to sell Scorpio and XYLO. A typical space selling Scorpio was converted into a gym while one selling XYLO was converted into a Disco to give the intended feel to the consumers as was communicated by the media advertisements. 

This was followed by round of thought provoking Q&A session with the range of questions asked ranging from technically deep questions on post sales feedback to future of customization of cars, The threat that foreign entrants bring and unique opportunities for Indian brands on foreign soils . The questions were many but the answers were more than the questionnaire desired .The involvement was such that the entire night would have fallen short. But in the end the time constraint left many questions unanswered but even more minds full with intent to find answers to them. To call the session a success will be a gross injustice and the unending roll of claps was a living testimony of the same. 

It would not be wrong to use the famous adage “THEY CAME , THEY DELIVERED  and THEY CONQUERED THE HEARTS OF THE SJMSOM students .        

1 comment:

  1. M&M has emerged as one of the best auto sector companies and has rewarded it's investors and consumers with good performances over the years