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Car majors build on digital marketing

AFTER the rural market rejuvenated car sales, auto companies are now building on digital marketing activities to tap onto a new set of tech savvy customers. The strategy is to generate business through consumer interface over internet and mobile phones, say auto marketers.

Maruti claims over a lakh cars it sold last year originated from digital marketing initiatives while Tata Motors saw 4,000 customers booking its low-cost car Nano over the internet. Other automakers are also witnessing a similar response on their digital platforms.

Honda’s third generation of flagship car, City, regained its leadership position in the mid-size car segment in the first month of its launch in November on the back of strong digital interface with customers. Not to be left behind, Volkswagen is using Net and mobile to tap the 2.5-lakh strong customer base in India, owning cars over Rs 10 lakh, for its Jetta and Passat premium sedans.

Passenger carmaker leader Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) first tasted success with online marketing with its small car A-Star, which generated huge interest on the net with over 2.5 lakh online hits. “We sold around 4,000 A-Stars based on customer interface on internet and have doubled online marketing activity for the new hatchback Ritz with a microsite launched a week ahead of the launch and offering various exclusive options to loggers. Around 17-18% of our sales now are estimated to originate from digital marketing from mere 2-3% in 2005,” MSI chief general manager (marketing) Shashank Srivastava said. Other carmakers are also actively tapping the interactive social networking sites and blogs on the web advertising space.

Honda is launching a new programme in July to track sales originating from net. “Our cars are primarily targeted at rich and younger customer who are net savvy and take keen interest in blogs and different web activities. Digital marketing helps us build a strong brand,” Honda Siel Cars veep (sales & marketing) Jnaneshwar Sen said. He added that preliminary estimates suggest internet is responsible for 5% of Honda’s total sales in India.

Earlier, Tata Motors’ dedicate website on Nano got a little over 30-million hits from the date of launch of the car to the closure of the booking. “It’s easier to reach professional like doctors and engineers and other target audiences with a strong influence on their purchase decision,” said Amardeep Bajpai of Webisdom.

By Chanchal Pal Chauhan NEW DELHI, chanchal.chauhan@timesgroup.com

Tatas to roll out nano homes.

TATA Housing, a subsidiary of Tata Sons on Wednesday, announced that it would be offering ‘value homes’ at affordable prices under its ‘Shubh Griha’ project. To be housed in Boisar, which is two-anda-half hours by train from Mumbai, the homes would cost between Rs 3.9 lakh to Rs 6.7 lakh, minus the registration fee.

Addressing the media, Brotin Banerjee, managing director and chief executive officer of Tata Housing said Shubh Griha would bring in a topline of Rs 100 crore, though he declined to disclose the cost of the project. In all, 1,200 houses would be on offer under this scheme with another 1,300 that would be costlier. The houses under the Shubh Griha project would have the “ground plus two format.”

The company, taking a leaf out of the Nano book, would start the process by first distributing forms from this Saturday. A person booking the house can do so by paying Rs 10,000 and the list of winners would be decided through a random selection process or lottery. The winners will be required to pay the balance amount on the completion of the project — this will take two years.
Under Shubh Griha, the company would be offering houses in three sizes — 283 sq ft, 360 sq ft and 465 sq ft. Interestingly, a couple of private builders are already selling homes at similar rates in Boisar. Mr Banerjee, however, said that the Tata Housing project would receive a better response as it offers better amenities. He later told ET, “The plan is to later have Shubh Griha projects in Bangalore and Delhi over the next few months. This will depend on factors like how quickly the land is obtained.” Across all its projects, Tata Housing is looking to have a pan India presence in five years. “We plan to enter cities like Nashik and Ludhiana. Today, we have projects in Bangalore, Kolkata, Gurgaon, Pune and Goa,” Mr Banerjee said.

Today, the company has over 15 million square feet, with 80% going towards residential and the balance for retail. “We have doubled our topline in FY09 as compared to FY08 and expect to repeat that in FY10,” he said.

SMALL DELIGHT
Titled Shubh Griha, the project aims at offering ‘value homes’
The houses would have ground plus two format
The group is keen to recreate its Nano magic
Winner to be chosen by lottery or randomly