“Concepts like these allow us to have a two-way engagement with the customers” – Rajan Amba, VP, Sales and Marketing, Tata Motors, on the new Tata #JET Edition of SUVs
It’s no secret that Tata Motors have doubled down when it comes to introducing special editions. While all manufacturers have tried their hand at introducing special edition models of their cars and SUVs, most of these efforts have been met with a lukewarm response at best, forcing them to cut their losses and move on to the next big thing. Tata Motors however, seems to be bucking that trend, with the response towards its Dark Edition and the Kaziranga Editions lineups being very strong. Recently, the manufacturer introduced its #JET Edition of SUVs, and if Tata’s track record is anything to go by, these would likely be received by an equally warm response.
“It's a combination of multiple things,” says Rajan Amba, VP, Sales and Marketing, Tata Motors. “First of all, having the foundation of fantastic looking vehicles gives you a great platform to get creative. We had these great silhouettes and form factors in the Nexon and the Harrier, Safari, even the Punch and the Altroz, to name the ones that really stand out. Then we have this extremely talented and capable design team. And then we have a whole bunch of marketing guys who have been out there listening to consumers and doing all kinds of research to get various data points. And last but not least, it's also about the fact that we want to bring different perspectives to the consumer.”
Rajan points out that the car industry operates in a typical way with model years, facelifts, and new powertrains being the norm, but the industry hasn’t yet fully explored the potential of using design and form factors to tell a story or create a concept that would excite the customers. “If you look at Kaziranga, which was not only a design concept but also a concept which was centred around sustainability, and we contributed back to the Kaziranga National Park as a result. It's such a wonderful story.” Rajan adds that, “Concepts like these allow us to have a two-way engagement with the customers. As opposed to facelift, cut-paste-repeat. So a combination of all these has helped us and encouraged us. Of course, the reaction from the customers has been phenomenal as you have rightly pointed out.”
When asked about the factors responsible for the introduction of more such special editions, Rajan states that, “It's a lot about the sheer creativity within the teams, followed by a deep desire, which happens when you really love your product – to bring even more to life in front of the consumer.” He adds that, “Doing the Dark edition in a country where everyone said black doesn't sell, and I dare say black on a Harrier compared to any other vehicle in its class, is still going to make a big difference. Because a Harrier is a Harrier. It is such a monster, such a beast compared to any other vehicle in its segment, largely because of its design and form factor, that it lends itself very well to the Dark edition. And we have consumers who think black makes the car warmer, which is not true. But when they look at it, they fall in love. We saw the same thing with the Nexon. The Dark edition of the Harrier and Safari, for example, is 45 per cent of our business. The Nexon (percentage) also is very high. So overall, it's not only increased trust in the brand, interest in the brand in this segment, but it's also shown that we can take consumers to places or areas that they've not imagined because as an industry, we have not told them that we can do it this way. Now that we have shown them that we can do it this way, they're saying ‘hey, I like it!”
Of late, social media has been a strong influence in shaping a buyer’s opinion on design, and Rajan states that, “Certainly, a lot of fans of Tata Motors who are fans of the Harrier or Safari may have a commentary, because their expectations may not be met. But we don't receive backlash as such. We receive a lot of feedback, or constructive criticism as I would phrase it. But then I would also say to you that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Commenting on Tata Motor’s design evolution over the years, Rajan says that, “There is a massive difference between some of the cars in the past and some of the cars recently. It showed not only the commitment, but the exemplary talent of our design studios and the marketing, because finally it is people from whose heads and thoughts this has developed. Of course there are also the management's brave calls – somebody has to take a decision, that let's put the money in, let's put this product down. So it's been some extremely brave decision-making backed up by some great thinking and creativity by the design studios in Pune and the UK that has led to success from a design and form factor perspective.”
When asked about Tata’s plans for the future in terms of design or vehicle editions, Rajan quips that, “The CURVV and Avinya are two concepts which have already been introduced by Tata Motors as concepts of the future well ahead of time compared to anyone else. Those, kind of give an answer to your question, as to the kind of potential and the kind of thinking and direction we are taking at Tata Motors. That is only the tip of the iceberg. It has given enough to tease the taste buds, so to speak.”