Company Description: Maruti
Suzuki India Limited, commonly referred to as Maruti, is a subsidiary company
of Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor Corporation.
Maruti Suzuki is the only Indian company to have crossed the 10 million
sales mark since its inception. In 2011-12, the company sold over 1.13 million
vehicles including 1,27,379 units of exports. The BSE-listed firm, which has a
market share of close to 40pc of the
Indian passenger car market, offers a complete range of cars from entry level
Maruti 800 and Alto, to hatchback Ritz, A-Star, Swift, Wagon-R, Estilo and
sedans DZire, SX4, in the ‘C’ segment Maruti Eeco, Multi Purpose vehicle Ertiga
and Sports Utility vehicle Grand Vitara. It is all set to enter the compact SUV
segment by coming up with a production version of the XAV Alpha. The Company
employs over 9000 people (as on 31st March, 2012). Maruti Suzuki’s sales and
service network is the largest among car manufacturers in India.
known fact that the financial year 2011-12 has not been excellent when it comes
to numbers. Do you expect this fiscal to
replicate the similar story as the last one or do you expect any revival of
The automobile industry is a
function basically of the whole economy. If the macro economy is favourable and
people feel good about the future, then they invest in consumer durables and
cars. A car is basically a big-ticket item in India today. If the sentiments are down, they will defer
their purchase plans. And the sales are dependent on the prevailing interest
rates. The government and RBI are helping us to ensure that the economic growth
rate goes up. Right now, we are looking at a single digit growth. And I don’t
see a quantum jump in sales in the remaining months of this financial year. FY
2012-13 is expected to be better (in terms of stimulus) as the national
elections will be happening during 2014.
there has been a deceleration of your sales growth, are you also scaling down
your marketing expenditure? If yes, are you focusing more on the digital
No, we are not.
Even though we are very prudent with our marketing budgets, we still
have to spend more to ride out of the slowdown.
And we are not focusing exceedingly on the digital space. We spend
around 7pc out of the overall ad spends. It may go a wee bit further upto 10pc.
would you attribute the stupendous success of the Alto 800 to?
The new Alto 800 has done very well for us. We have
earned record sales of 60,000 units since the launch in September 2012 (until
third week of December). The product is very well accepted because people know
that it has a value-for-money proposition, best fuel efficiency, stylish
proportions like wavefront design, classy interiors, enhanced driving
experience and the overall package worked in our favour. So it has worked
wonders for us because the product is very good. Our penetration in tier-I and
tier-II cities has actually gone up with this car.
Suzuki has been sponsoring a lot of motorsports activities. What is your
primary objective in getting into such activities?
We are organising motorsports activities to promote
the talent in the country and also to enhance the brand equity of our company. This
is because when you promote any talent, it has a positive rub-off effect on the
brand. Our tagline ‘Way of Life’
manifests that itself. We want to appeal to the younger and sporty people. By
organising events like these; we are coming closer to them in a natural and
forceful manner. For example, the Swift superhatch has that sporty image which
we want to permeate in our entire lineup. So it’s a win-win situation for us
and the motorsports drivers.
Ertiga has also done exceedingly well and has created a brand-new segment of
compact MPV in India. In order to
sustain the numbers, would you be offering alternate fuel options and automatic
This vehicle straddles between breadbox MPVs and
bigger people carriers like the Innova. So this vehicle is attracted by the
likes of people who had earlier the options of only these kinds of offerings.
The Ertiga is ideal for those people who wanted a manouverable vehicle that has
cosy seats for several passengers and is also comfortable like a sedan and has
other utilitarian aspects (like loading goods). As part of our company policy,
we atleast try to give two fuel options to our customer. Right now, we have
only petrol and diesel options for the Ertiga. We would be offering one more
fuel option like the CNG. Incase the product package suits the Indian consumer,
we are open to an automatic transmission variant.
segment within the utility vehicle space that has witnessed unprecedented
growth is the compact SUV segment. So would you like to tap segment with the
production version of XA Alpha concept that was unveiled at the 2012 Auto Expo?
Whenever we introduce any concept at the Auto Expo, we
definitely consider its production version. At the 2010 Auto Expo, we had
unveiled the RIII Concept which saw its final avatar in the form of the Ertiga
MPV. Likewise, we will follow a similar trend with the XA Alpha Concept (for
coming out with a compact SUV). The response to this concept has been
overwhelming. And we will be offering both petrol and diesel options as this is
the industry trend.
the influx of global multinational giants in the hyper-competitive entry-level
car segment, are you concerned about your current marketshare? If yes, any
strategies that you have in mind to maintain your stronghold in the small car
The growing competition in the small car segment is
not a matter of concern for us, provided the automobile industry keeps
growing. If the pie gets larger, then
it’s not worrisome for us. This is because we feel that we can bring out the
products that will appeal to Indian customers very well. We reach out to the
best of the lot too. We have a sales point cum service centre which is located
very close to our customers. As long as
we can stick to these strategies, I don’t think anyone can shake us so badly.
To maintain our marketshare and cater to the burgeoning demand, we are
investing on new facilities too. The major worry will be the overall growth
have any plans to boost your brand equity in large car segments especially when
products like the Baleno, Grand Vitara and the Kizashi didn’t live upto the
I have answered part of the question when you asked me
about motorsports. So we are doing a lot of activities on that front. Going
forward, we will be chalking out many such strategies like new launches
(including a compact SUV), product refreshments, etc that will help us in
changing the image of the firm.
what about brand centres? Will they not be helping you in your company’s image
It is too early to talk about this. At the moment, we
have only one brand centre. We see how
it helps us in the long run. Our brand centre showcases our entire range of
products. We have invested in this new concept because it becomes a bigger
display area. We are not selling cars here.
Swift has seen a mammoth waiting period since last year. The labour fiasco
added to the company’s woes as the waitlists have multiplied. But as the situation has normalised, has the
waiting period been reduced?
The situation at our Manesar plant is back to normal.
As a result, the waiting period has also come down. But frankly, the waiting
period is similar of what it was when we launched all-new Swift last year. Hopefully, it (waiting period) will further
reduce in the future.
what is your vision for the company when it comes to marketing?
We have got cars which are stylish, sporty and
value-for-money. Going forward, I want the entire brand philosophy to permeate
the entire portfolio. Right now, we are at space A and would like to go a step
further so that our future and current products are seen in the same way as the
company itself. Our younger, sportier and authentic image should permeate into
whatever we are doing in advertising.
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