Mahindra & Mahindra is back with a sequel to its popular 2013 campaign ‘Live Young, Live Free’. Vivek Nayer, CMO, Automotive Division, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, says the campaign stands true to the brand’s core values and explains how the brand is evolving with changing market demands
By Samarpita Banerjee
Q] You have come up with the sequel to ‘Live Young, Live Free’ campaign after four years. How have things changed for the brand in the interim?
The brand has become stronger, more visible, but I think the core values of the brand remains the same albeit in a more modern avatar. Live Young Live Free 2 is communicating the same values at the core - the values of adventure, freedom, following your passion and road trips but the packaging is modern.
Q] Why did you think of coming up with a sequel?
In a sense, we were inspired by Bollywood. We have seen so many franchises doing well in Bollywood which proves that if you have a good thing going, there is merit in extending that franchise. When we launched this campaign in January 2013, it got a tremendous response, from our stakeholders, customers, fans, partners and employees. Everywhere we played the commercial, there was a standing ovation. It was inspiring and relatable and everyone wanted to experience what we showed. India is changing, lifestyles are changing, aspirations are changing, and in a sense, the song and video conveyed that to the youth across the country. Following the response back in 2013, about six months back, we started brain-storming with our agency and thought of coming up with a sequel. But sequels are not easy. We needed to carry forward some things which worked in the past and at the same time, create some novelty, something new. While like last time we decided to make this a portfolio film too along and used the same song and some fantastic locations, we added new things like our newer offerings like KUV100 and TUV300. We have also introduced the updated versions of XUV, Scorpio and Thar in the film because all of them have got updated in the last four years. While last time we only went to Ladakh and Kerala, this time we went to the North East, Ladakh and Rajasthan.
Q] You have also come up with a mobile app. Tell us more about it.
We have recently launched the app which goes in tandem with the film. The film’s job is to communicate and inspire people, and the mobile app actually enables people to live the young and free life. The app is about road trips - it will help you plan a road trip - where to go, what to do, where to stop for a bite, where are the petrol stations and navigation.
Q] With the current SUV penetration in India being pegged at around 30%, which markets do you think will contribute further to the growth story of the segment?
The growth will come from all across India. People are in love with SUVs because they have now become more affordable. For example, our TUV 300 is more affordable than a Scorpio and XUV. Even the KUV 100 is quite affordable and starts at Rs 4.50 lakh for a petrol version. Affordability has added to more and more SUVs on the road, and that can only go up. People like SUVs because they say something about them, they look different and stand out from the other cars. They have more space. In the KUV 100, six people can sit comfortably and you can take it to different terrains. So, yes, SUVs are getting increasingly popular.
Q] After-sales service is one of the biggest deciders while buying a new car. What are your efforts to ensure that your services are better than the rest?
We have a big presence in rural and semi-urban India, so our network goes very deep, both for sales and for services. If you don’t provide services, you can’t make sales, both go hand-in-hand. We are well-distributed and well-represented both in sales and services across India. And that’s a continuous endeavor. We also keep coming up with new initiatives. When we launched the KUV 100, we actually launched it on Flipkart as well. We are devising newer ways of reaching out to people. Now we also have a ‘With you hamesha’ service app so that people can book services on the app, or through the net.
Q] How have your partnerships with e-commerce sites worked for you?
We keep partnering with different sites as and when we need to. We also have our own e-commerce site called ‘M2ALL’ where we sell all our products and accessories.
Q] How much are you investing on the digital platform?
We spend about 15-20% of our marketing spends across brands on digital. So the platform is an integral part of our strategy for every brand and for every launch. We have used digital very well for the launches of both KUV 100 and TUV 300. We managed to create huge buzz using digital and social media before the actual launch. And even now, the new film is running on social media, even before it hits TV.
Q] What are your marketing strategies for the rural market?
Mahindra is already very strong in rural. We have been offering vehicles for transportation in rural areas from a time when there were no buses. Historically, we have been very strong and we have remained strong. There are a number of things we do in rural starting from advertising in vernacular languages to using media which is relevant to the semi-urban rural population. We also do a lot of activations and road shows to tell people about our products.
Q] What will be your broad marketing strategy for the next few years?
We will keep coming out with new products at various points and keep refreshing and updating our existing products. And then of course, we will focus on the 360-degree marketing mix from communication to digital to CRM, social media and experiential.
Q] Post-demonetization, the industry is going through a dip. Are things finally picking up?
No, I think they are taking time. We are hoping that in the next few months they will be back to normal. It seems to be recovering, but it will take some time because liquidity needs to come back in the system and the consumer sentiment needs to become positive. Even now, people are wondering, ‘What next’? It might still take around two to three months for the consumer’s sentiments to improve.
Q] When the KUV was launched, Mahindra marketed the car aggressively and it saw a lot of enthusiasm from consumers. What is the marketing strategy for the product now?
Once a product is launched, it is sustenance after that. At that time, we made a film with Varun Dhawan which we aired again on TV, around a month back. KUV will also be a part of the current campaign. We air Varun’s ad about two to three times a year, and also leverage it on social media. We also keep doing different initiatives. We had recently done a Dubsmash contest where Varun, Anand Mahindra and many of us did Dubsmash videos and put them out. The contest did very well. Again, two months ago, we had done another dance contest and got some amazing responses. So we keep coming up with ways to engage with the younger audience, which is our primary TG.