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BY Ritika Raj

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Gaurav Mehta, Chief Marketing Officer, CarDekho shares insights on the inception of the brand’s recently launched campaign, its message of empathy and association with various brand ambassadors, the future of the used car sector and more

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to people becoming sceptical about public transport and an increase in the need for personal mobility on the back of safety concerns. With kindness and empathy becoming the need of the hour, used car brand CarDekho tapped on these emotions for their recent ‘E for Elderly’ campaign – an awareness campaign for all cars, bikes, buses and truck drivers that encourages people to respond with respect and empathy whenever they spot a vehicle with the ‘E’ sign on the road which stands for Elderly. According to Gaurav Mehta, Chief Marketing Officer, CarDekho the brand intends to spread the message of empathy to everyone who drives, for the betterment of the elderly and for basic road sense. He adds, “When the lockdown opened, we found that a lot of elderly people were left with no choice but to venture out on their own. The elderly should not suffer from the perpetual honking, especially during the pandemic and its woes. Why are we taking personal mobility away from the elders? They should be able to move around in the car with an equal amount of respect and safety as anybody else.”

The brand’s current ambassadors – actors Akshay Kumar and Mahesh Babu, and cricketers Rahul Dravid and KL Rahul – have also been featured in this campaign. Mehta says, “While we have celebrities from the entertainment industry and sports fraternity, there is a common thread amongst them all - they are really good at what they do. Our brand ambassadors are all extremely popular with the right kind of brand appeal. Secondly, by using celebrities the message acceptance is faster if the right celebrity is chosen for any campaign. We asked our brand ambassadors to look at this idea and think of it as a small behavioural change that brings about a big change in Indian society and how we live.”

The opportunity for auto
Though the auto sector in India was in distress before the onset of COVID-19, Mehta says that the pandemic will increase the need for personal mobility. In fact, CarDekho and the auto sector at large saw a rise due to pent up demand post the pandemic for personal transport. He says, “People today want to have transportation with them to ensure they are not stuck when they want to move around. YoY, the last five to six months have been much better. People look at used cars as a more feasible option. With the auto industry facing supply chain disruptions, people who wanted to buy a new car came to us for a cheaper alternative. With more and more standardisation and people coming into the industry, consumers are more convinced about the cars that they are buying now. The pandemic has accelerated personal mobility in a big way and it is here to stay now with the consumer behaviour shift.”

Commenting on the challenges 2020 brought about Mehta notes, “There were logistical and operational difficulties that the pandemic brought in terms of the O2O (offline to online) model. The pandemic gave people a chance to look at Digital more seriously. While people look at cars online and list cars online to sell, there’s also a physical element involved. The pandemic forced us to look at our strategies and operating manual to make sure that the service standards and the user experience were not compromised. Apart from that, it was only a tailwind for the industry, as barring the operational difficulties on-ground, it been fairly good all around.”
The used car segment in India is fragmented and disaggregated and the organised industry includes many auto OEMs, with their niche sub-brands dedicated to consumers looking for used cars. Mehta adds, “Buying a new car is super easy. You go to a showroom, and everything from model and pricing to insurance, loan and service is taken care of. However, it is a different scenario when it comes to used cars. We are a fragmented business and having more players will help the industry become structured and bring about more employment and revenue. Apart from us, OEMs, banking and allied industries, government policies will have to pitch in and come together to structure this industry. So while we compete with competitors, we collaborate more.”

The road ahead
The marketing mix for CarDekho has remained consistent pre and post-pandemic. The brand has been following a fairly straightforward media mix with impetus on hyperlocal marketing and branded content solutions. Mehta explains, “We use TV extensively, especially news and sports channels. There isn’t any media plan that will work without regional TV channels for us, and this takes up almost 30-40% of our media spends. Being digitally native, digital marketing is ingrained in our DNA, so we do that 365 days of the year. Being a publisher, content also comes very strongly to us and it’s a part of our nature with marketing or branded content solutions. The used car industry is a hyper-local industry as the media plan for Mumbai is different from Bangalore or from Lucknow. Hence, hyperlocal marketing becomes important to make sure that the brand is actually relatable and people find a better user experience.”
Talking about how the core of the brand’s marketing strategy will evolve, Mehta elaborates, “The core of our marketing and brand philosophy will always be to see whether or not we are adding anything to the consumers’ lives and the sellers, buyers and dealers that we work with. The second thing, regional marketing will really always be important for us. Our country is big with heterogeneous languages and cultures and we are cognizant of the fact that while a lot of things remain the same, the content we create for the brand for different regions of the country will definitely be a fundamental bit of the marketing strategy. Those two will be the most critical things.”

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Tags : SPOTLIGHT campaign Ritika Raj auto Gaurav Mehta CarDekho Rahul Dravid