Suzuki goes upmarket with NEXA
Maruti-Suzuki to open a new line of dealerships to retail premium cars
Words by: Aatish Mishra
When Maruti Udyog began producing cars in 1983, they took the country by storm. The Maruti 800 only had competition from the Fiat Padmini and the Hindustan Motors Ambassador and was a runaway success priced at ` 50,000. It eventually sold a total of 2.86 million units until it was discontinued in 2010.
By the time Suzuki took complete control over the company, they had perfected the art of selling small cars in large volumes. The company has understood exactly what an entry-level Indian customer wants — affordability, reliability and a brilliant after-sales service, all bundled into a neat little package. Time after time they have replicated success with small cars, first with the iconic 800, then with the Alto, and most recently with the Celerio.
However, as successful as they have been with selling small cars, Maruti-Suzuki has been equally unsuccessful with selling their more premium offerings. Both the Grand Vitara and the Kizashi were spectacular flops, even though both were extremely capable cars. The brand Maruti-Suzuki has been imprinted in the minds of the Indian customer as a gateway into the car world, and is now associated more with need, rather than desirability. When people want to make a statement, they tend to look at other brands like Honda and now even Hyundai. However, Maruti Suzuki is looking to change that.
A new set of dealerships that will retail premium offerings from Maruti-Suzuki is set to be launched under the NEXA brand name. Through NEXA, Maruti-Suzuki hope to change how Indian customers perceive the brand by marketing their premium cars separately from their budget offerings. The company is employing some interesting strategies to highlight their change in identity. Currently, only the S-Cross will make its way to NEXA dealerships, but Maruti-Suzuki say that this is the first of many. Visually, they will follow an individualistic corporate theme to distinguish themselves from regular Maruti showrooms. They also plan on revolutionising the customer service experience to make it simpler and more personal. Nexa will provide customers with a single relationship manager who will take care of the entire buying process, instead of making them meet different representatives in various departments. Maruti-Suzuki plan on opening 100 such NEXA dealerships in the first 12 to 18 months, and train 2000 relationship managers before expanding to the interior of the country.
With this new strategy, Maruti-Suzuki hopes to break out of the confines of the lower end of the market. This move will probably allow Suzuki to get some of their more premium products to the country, something that we have missed out to date.