As India's much-anticipated annual festive season kicks into gear, the country's automobile players are filled with optimism. They are buoyed by the alleviation of supply chain obstacles, a flurry of exciting new vehicle releases, the anticipation of increased sales during this period and their quest to meet the surging consumer demand.
Auto giants like Maruti Suzuki and Nissan are revving up their marketing strategies with gusto. They are diving headfirst into major sporting events, harnessing the power of digital influencers, setting their sights on regional markets and forging strategic partnerships - all in a bid to supercharge their advertising campaigns during the festive season.
Other automobile players including Hyundai Motor India, Kia India, Tata Motors, are gearing up to capitalise on the festive season with a slew of new product launches. These new launches are anticipated to be a significant driver of growth in the industry.
Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director- Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki, said, “Our spends in JAS (July-August-September) and OND (October-November-December) quarters will be typically higher than AMJ (April-May-June) quarter by around 15-20%. This is owing to the festive season and a plethora of sports association opportunities ahead.”
Around 40-50% of Maruti Suzuki’s festive ad spends will be on sporting properties like Asia Cup, World Cup and Asian Games and the rest will be in brand-led campaigns. In terms of media mix, 50-60% will be invested in TV, followed by around 25-30% in digital (OTT+mobile) and 15-20% in outdoors and cinema, he added.
Mohan Wilson - Director - Marketing, Product and Customer Experience, Nissan India, said, “We have several ongoing marketing initiatives that will significantly enhance the visibility of the Nissan brand compared to the past. We recently introduced the Nissan Magnite GEZA Special Edition, a special version now available in the marketplace. Simultaneously, we are dedicated to generating excitement around the Nissan brand and engaging with our customers in a highly targeted manner across different markets, including a nationwide approach through various brand initiatives.”
“Certainly, we see a notable increase in advertising spend. Our media strategy places significant emphasis on digital and social platforms. The Magnite customer base primarily comprises individuals aged from their early 30s to early 40s, aligning perfectly with our digital and social-focused approach. Consequently, a substantial portion of our advertising budget is directed towards digital and social activations. Moreover, during festive periods, we engage in ongoing event activations, including test drives, displays and various other events,” he added.
Wilson highlighted that in the realm of personalisation, Nissan is actively engaged in multiple customer experience initiatives. Our aim is to create a comprehensive virtual ecosystem. This includes our end-to-end shopper talk solution, which begins from the initial customer interaction when they visit our website, extends through the exploration of various rates and vehicle options, the selection of a car, booking, financing and ultimately concludes with the car purchase.
“It is very transaction-based and it's an e-commerce solution. We are widening this in terms of personalisation with the full end-to-end customer journey to reflect the digital space,” he added.
Recently, Nissan and Sony Pictures collaborated for the 'Gran Turismo' movie campaign in India. The film premiered in India on August 25, 2023, and showcases the story of a group of underdogs who dared to challenge the elite world of motorsports.
Srivastava highlighted that usually, the festive season in India runs right from mid-August starting with Onam followed by Ganesh Mahotsav in September, Durga Puja, Dussehra and Diwali in October/November till the end of January with Pongal and Baisakhi. This period covers the key sales months for the automobile industry. Roughly around 65-70% of Maruti Suzuki’s annual ad spends happens during this period.
Srivastava said, “Keeping our fingers crossed, this festive season is expected to deliver good sales for our brands. We expect to continue the uptick in our premium SUV portfolio and enhance our leadership position in the SUV market. There may be a few challenges in entry hatchbacks but we are working hard to sustain the volumes in the coming festive period for our hatchback segment.”
“We will have a three-pronged strategy for the festive period: Invest in big sporting events like the World Cup, Asia Cup and Asian games. These give massive reach build-ups in just a couple of weeks and deliver one week's reach and TVR which equals 4-5 weeks' reach and TVR of GEC channels. Second is investing in influencers-driven digital impact properties to add frequency and lower funnel conversions to build up on these sporting properties. The last one is investing in regional markets with both innovative content specially curated for those markets and backing with investments in the biggest regional media properties,” he added.
Earlier, Hema Malik, Chief Investment Officer, IPG Mediabrands India, emphasised that the automobile category is expected to witness a larger presence on the general entertainment channels (GEC) than in previous years, during the festive season.
“This category recovered well post COVID-19 but then they faced other issues and so there was a bit of a slowdown in the advertising. So, we are expecting that auto will recover well. Apart from this, travel, luxury segments, paint, mobile handset and real estate, will also do really well,” she added.
Meanwhile, Hyundai is expecting a 9-10% growth in passenger car sales during the entire festive season compared to last year, according to media reports.
Tarun Garg, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Hyundai Motor India highlighted that the festive season has been off to a good start with the company seeing a 10% growth in sales during Onam in Kerala.
According to industry players, two-wheelers and passenger cars witnessed an increase in their demand growth in the month of August this year.
Two-wheelers are experiencing a gradual resurgence in demand, particularly in rural areas in anticipation of the festive season. In August, the two-wheeler industry saw a nearly 6% year-on-year increase in volumes, following months of fluctuation primarily driven by weak demand in rural regions, according to media reports.
Srivastava said, “Apart from partnerships on big sporting events, we enhance our presence on high-impact shows like India’s Got Talent, Indian Idol and Big Boss (South) etc. to match consumers viewing habits during the festive season. This is further upped with a spread of on-ground events like Lollapalooza and Sunburn to reach the younger audience.”
Meanwhile, Wilson emphasised that Nissan is strategically utilising the entire ecosystem effectively.
“For instance, with Amazon, we are not limited to one activation. We are applying our approach across various platforms. You will notice significant Nissan branding on mobile, OTT, the shopping app, the website, social media, digital banners, print and outdoor advertising. This reflects our comprehensive ecosystem integration and partnership with Amazon. Similarly, we are collaborating with other media outlets as part of our ongoing partnerships, not only in India but also in other markets. Our goal is to ensure a seamless customer journey and consistently convey our brand message,” he added.