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Monday, July 30, 2018

BUSINESS SPECIAL.... Requiem For The Nano

Requiem For The Nano

What exactly went wrong with the world’s cheapest car.

Launched as the world’s cheapest car in 2008 and with production lines dwindling in 2018, Tata Nano counts as one of the most enigmatic rise and fall in Indian marketing. It was launched amidst much fanfare, and then got stuck in a morass of its own making, from which it never managed to return. According to media reports, what began as one of the most ambitious auto projects of modern India will only be manufactured on demand. Brand Equity gets a clutch of CXOs from across industries to share their first ‘Nano’ memory as well as their take on the the ‘big’ mistake.

Sunil Kataria
CEO - India & SAARC, Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL)
First impression
My first thought, when it was launched was: this is truly a BHAG (Bold Hairy Audacious Goal) moment and hence very inspiring. When the Nano car finally arrived after all the struggles, it was indeed a sense of pride that an Indian company has achieved such a breakthrough.
What went wrong
The ownership of a car in India is an aspirational life event and an indicator of social success and status. Hence the looks and the imagery of the car are critical. Nano got slotted as the ‘cheapest car’ and this imagery of ‘cheap’ didn’t connect to the pride of owning a car. Secondly, Indian consumers have a penchant for ‘value for money’. They want the key features but at a certain value. This is where Nano missed the consumer aspiration.

Satyaki Ghosh
CEO - Domestic Textiles & Thai Acrylic Fibre, Aditya Birla Group
First impression
My first memory of Nano is of an absolutely ‘wow’ feeling. The movement of the two-wheeler guy to a four-wheeler seemed obvious and a winner of an idea So much so that it should work very well not just in India but even in the other developing countries since it was essentially about a large chunk of commuters upgrading.
What went wrong
The positioning. In India, a consumer wants to pay less for his car but wishes to appear as having paid more. In Nano’s case it was the reverse. While the car was pegged as a 1 lakh, it was soon selling at 1.4 lakh onwards – with an upgraded model even touching 1.8 lakh. Very soon it lost the ‘one lakh rupee car’ charm and started being a lesser Maruti. It became a major psychological blunder. The other issues like a few cars catching fire or the launch momentum getting lost in factory shifting, while important, did not turn out to be life-threatening.

Ajay Kakar
CMO, Aditya Birla Capital
First impression
When I first heard of the Nano, I visualised the ‘smart’ car I had seen overseas. And visualised a Nano on every corner of every street. An aspiration for mass India, that the Nano will make a reality.
What went wrong
“Who was this product for? What was the positioning of the car? What was the proposition? Will the actual car deliver on these parameters?” These were questions that were possibly not asked, or answered, before taking the car to the market.

Uma Talreja
Chief Digital Officer, Raymond
First impression
The Nano made a first impression on me as a social strategy for upliftment of masses that can’t afford cars, targeted at a segment that was using bikes that were considered unsafe for families. It had the Tata halo effect of doing good for society. My first thought then was about how our public transport fails people, and private industries are trying to solve the problem.
What went wrong
As a car, it just failed to establish itself as an upgrade from the norm. It became a price point rather than a great car at great value. It also missed addressing user segments with clear propositions: families that sought good times with safety, students that wanted something cool but at great value. It became a 1 lakh car instead of cool set of wheels.

Nidhi Hola
Sr. Director – Marketing, GoDaddy India
Tata Nano generated great publicity for being the ‘world’s most affordable car’ and created a lot of initial interest. Sadly, it did not pick up the desired momentum with the targeted customer base in India. Brands today, irrespective of their size, should strive to create a seamless bond between the brand, the culture, content – while keeping in mind the customer’s context. Without the customer’s context, even a great product can fail.

By Amit Bapna

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