Maruti's tried and tested recipe of success in India

Friday 04 January 2013, 10:14 AM by

For those staying in India, Maruti 800 (M800) was the first car to have been purchased during the late 1980s and early 90s. This model came at a time when there was a need for low-maintenance and fuel efficient cars. With the mighty Ambassador and Premier Padmini available as choices in the market, the Maruti 800 came as a refreshing change for many prospective buyers. It is through this car that Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) carved a strong connection with the Indian masses.

Maruti's tried and tested recipe of success in India

The first vehicle launched by MSIL was the Maruti 800 SS80, launched back in 1983. It was further developed into a new 800 cc vehicle and released in 1986. The humble M800 completed more than 25 years on Indian roads, before being phased out from metropolitan cities. Since the manufacture of M800, the company has always paid tremendous attention to development of its after sales network. In fact, an advertisement of MSIL talks about service centres being available even in the areas like Ladakh.

Premier Padminis and Ambassadors were known to breakdown regularly and required a high degree of maintenance. Once users realised that the M800 did not demand much maintenance and was highly reliable, many started selling their Padminis and Ambassadors to buy it, or purchased it as their first vehicle. Car sales for the M800 soared from 63,763 units in 1987 to 1,89,061 units in 1999.

MSIL has always been a brand that knows its customers well. It was the first auto company in India to realise that majority of buyers were looking for inexpensive fuel efficient vehicles. With price sensitivity being the core reason behind every purchase, Maruti offered different hatchbacks at various price points. The Alto, new Alto 800, WagonR, Zen Estilo, Ritz and Maruti Swift are all highly successful hatchbacks in the country. In fact, the Suzuki brand which has partnered with Maruti in India has improved the company's efficiency by a few notches.

For a brand to be successful, it has to move with the time and keep up with highly demanding customers. MSIL has diversified its product portfolio by launching the Maruti Ertiga, a Multi Utility Vehicle (MUV) that met with instant success. The auto maker realised that the Utility Vehicle (UV) segment was witnessing frenetic activity with the likes of Mahindra Xylo and Toyota Innova, and thus decided to create a product for this segment. This also proved that the company had potential to compete in segments other than hatchbacks. Similarly, it also launched Swift DZire in the entry-level sedan category, which again received tremendous response from customers.

Despite the demands of new generation, there are some Maruti vehicles that have stood the test of time. The simple and boxy Omni van still manages to be in the list of top ten selling vehicles every month. Maruti did launch the Eeco, to offer more safety and comfort than the Omni. Together, both these vehicles are very popular as cabs, being used in schools, ambulances and to carry cargo.

No matter what the category is, MSIL has made sure that it has a car to fit in every segment of the industry. However, since the company has established its reputation of being an affordable brand, it does not wish to venture out into the luxury segment. The company did try to enter this segment by launching Kizashi, but managed to sell very few vehicles. Now Chairman R.C. Bhargava clearly says that MSIL would not like to venture into the premium segment anymore and would rather look into other prospective segments.

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