Messi Is A Misfit For Tata Motors – Strategy With RS

Tata Motors has signed on Lionel Messi, arguably, the world’s best football player.

Tata Motors shared the reason for their choice:
1. It did research to determine what is ‘cool’ among ‘20 – 25’ years. ‘Football’ according to Tata Motors is the new cool among the young adult.
2. Next they put down ‘values’, which they stand for – Confident, Cool, Inspiring, Innovative, Trustworthy, Self – Belief.
3. They scouted for a football celebrity who also had similar ‘values’ as them.
4. Lionel Messi, according to Tata Motors, was the best fit.
5. Tata Motors signed on Messi to be their Global Brand Ambassador.

A few questions came to my mind, which I wish to share with you:

– I believe what Tata Motors mention, as ‘Values’ are, according to me, ‘Personality’ traits of their brand. Values guide a company’s behavior & assist it in taking decision.

– I believe that the traits mentioned by Tata Motors – Confident, Cool, Inspiring, Innovative, Trustworthy, Self – Belief are those which it wishes to acquire over time. As of today many of these traits are not strongly associated with it.

– Messi, according to me has the following personality traits associated with him – world class, authentic, genuine, can take on the world single-handedly & still come out a winner, team can be built around him & it can deliver results, produce moments of magic, match winners, world class player – par excellence – having won the ‘Player Of The Year’ award – 4x.

– When I match the personality traits currently associated with Tata Motors & Messi, I feel there is misfit between the celebrity’s personality traits with the brand he is endorsing.

What is the problem if there is personality misfit between Messi & Tata Motors?

The Messi campaign will drives traffic to Tata Motors show room. Now, if Tata Motors does not live up to the expectation raised by association with the legend – world class, near flawless, authentic, multiple times world champion, produces moments of magic, leaves the peers far behind & panting to merely catch up with him, the world stop to watch him when he appears then it may fall victim to this famous axiom – nothing kills a bad product than good advertisement.

Why?

Good advertisement will create expectation of the kind associated with Messi but if he brand – Tata Motors vehicles do not deliver on the expectations raised, then customers will be disappointed. Once that happens then bad buzz will erupt & the axioum may again come true.

Are there any brands in Tata Motor’s current portfolio, which is in sync with Messi’s personality? Yes 2 brands – Jaguar & Land Rover (JLR). These brand’s personality traits can be a good fit with Messi. Unfortunately Tata Motors cannot associate JLR for strategic reasons.

What strategy should Tata Motors pursue?

First & foremost it must put every resource it has – financial & non- financial to create an insanely great product which delivers an insanely great experience. Then it should sign on Messi to drive traffic to the store. Once in the store & customers experience an insanely great experience then they are going to scream to every body about the great experience they have had with Tata Motors. Result – this will set in motion a self-perpetuating virtuous cycle.

Business Lesson for us:
1. We should invest every resource – financial & non-financial in creating an insanely great product & then ensure it delivers an insanely great experience.

2. Only after we have reached this objective – not partially but full & completely, then resources should be deployed on educating TG about the brand & generating traffic to the store.

3. In the new world, companies are avoiding Traditional media vehicle – TV, Press, Radio, Cinema & Outdoor for building brands; instead they are opting for Alternate media vehicle – Buzz, PR, Event & Digital vehicles to build brands because they are proving to be more cost effective.

Please do share what you feel about Tata Motors choice of associating with Messi? Do you endorse it?

Comments

28 comments

anish

Dear Sir,

I agree with your point that the values currently associated with Tata vehicles are not completely aligned to the qualities Messi evokes in the minds of the people.Having said that,Tata Motors has already made its intensions very clear that it would be introducing two completely new products each year till 2020.These new products sport an entirely new design language that would redefine the way people perceive Tata passenger cars as a brand.Moreover,off late all the products launched by Tata Motors have lived up to international benchmark standards and have received rave reviews from both critiques and customers alike.The only issue that the Tata’s were facing was of a miserable showroom footfall.The conversion ratio of the people who visited the showroom has been always pretty high for them.This step would drive the people to their showrooms and I am sure TML would not disappoint their customers this time.A lot has been put at stake to turn things around.

Rajesh Srivastava

Anish apology for delay in responding. You have rightly mentioned that the conversion rate of people visiting the showroom is poor. Instead of solving this problem they have initiated a Marketing program which will increase footfalls into the showroom – & because they have not done much to improve ‘conversation’ rate … what do you think will happen in 9 months – …. marginally improved sales but not in commensuration with the spend incurred in signing Messi & money spent to run the campaign. Bottomline- TM should resolve all the issues before going in for Messi.

anish

Dear Sir,

The conversion of the footfalls into a final purchase in my opinion is driven by the following factors – 1) drive the customers to the showrooms through a robust brand building and marketing campaign, 2) ensure that the products on offer are the best among the competition to increase the willingness to buy of the customer once he lands into the showroom , 3) to ensure that the sales personnel are aptly trained to communicate the value of the product to the customer, 4) offer a unique showroom ambience which is in line with the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience which the Indian value buyer wishes to have through a car purchase. You have very aptly pointed out that the Messi campaign would increase the footfalls in the showrooms.So that fulfils the point 1) of the conversion strategy. Just a quick Google search of the TML would reveal their ambitious product launch plans all the way upto 2020, their 3000 crore a year capex plans for new product launches in the passenger cars division and their HorizonNext strategy. All this has been in news much before the news of signing up Messi hit the news stands. The first launch under this brand perception re-engineering project was the undoubtedly the Zest. While fellow readers on this forum might dislike the Zest for its resemblance to the older X1 Manza platform, there is plenty of good news in store for them. The next in line launches planned as early as Christmas this year is the Tata Kite,a sub 4 lakh hatchback that would fill the space between the Nano and the Indica followed by a the Tata Kite Sedan before the end of the financial year.This would be followed by the Raptor and the Buzzard and the Nexon launches in the compact SUV space.(contd…)

anish

And each of these product launches has been designed from the scratch inside-out. The development of this entire product launch pipeline has been an ongoing process for the last 4 years now and has not started ‘after Tata signed Messi’ which seems to be the perception on this forum. When your first big bang product launch is in mid-Dec, it makes sense to create a buzz about the brand at least a months before.The other alternative was to bring out the Messi ad along with the TVC of the car. But as I pointed out in a reply that Messi is not the brand ambassador of any single product.He is the ambassador for the brand. So launching him with the TVC of the car makes little strategic sense to me.Hence, the point 2) of having a sound product portfolio for converting the footfalls is being fulfilled. (contd..)

anish

Tata Motors has embarked on an ambitious recruitment drive of sales personnel way back in early 2013. These personnel have been trained extensively through an integrated HorizonNext strategy that spans all the dealers across the country.The showrooms too are being upgraded in a phased manner to facilitate the next-gen experience that the neo-liberal youth of the country demands from an automaker. A quick visit to any of the Tata showroom in the Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities would suggest the sea of a change the company has gone through.And the results have started showing too.The JD Power Survey 2015 puts Tata Motors on the joint third spot along with the likes of Honda Siel Cars India at an absolute score of 880. This when the company was a laggard at the sixth and the seventh spot over the last five years reflects the effort put in by the company.Through this argument I would like to say that TML has worked on the point 3) and Point 4) of the footfall conversion strategy over the last five years. The only plug that was needed in this strategy was the point 1) which they have tried to do it through the Messi campaign.In my opinion signing him just before the launch of their most awaited product is a strategic master-stroke that the company has played. In all probability it may backfire, but I would appreciate the company for its bold stance. (contd..)

anish

Sir, I would like to make one final point regarding your observation that the investment in the ad campaign would not offset the marginal increase in the revenue through sales. In my opinion, the visibility that Tata Motors has gained over the last couple of weeks would not only bolster the sales of its entirely new product range but once the customers start visiting the showrooms , it would also have a rub off the sales of the existing TML product range, which in my opinion offers the best value for money in its respective segment. The incremental sales over a two-three year horizon would not only be commensurate with the investment made in the Messi campaign but the perception that it would help build about the brand would help TML in each of its next-gen product launches in the coming decade.

Thank you for taking time out to reply to my comment,sir.

Rajesh Srivastava

Anish I appreciate such a detailed response. Your passion for TML is commendable. I wish professionals have the same passion for the company they work in as you are displaying in such ample measure.
I hope that your words come true.

It would delight all stakeholders.

I want to share a few of my thoughts: 1. A company should have a business objective – which is specific measurable & time bound. 2. A company’s strategy should be simple & clearly stated in not more than a few lines. 2. The Plan to implement the strategy should fit into a single A4 size page.

I would request you to share TML , Objective, Strategy as well as its Plan as understood by you – only if it can be shared in a public platform. Only then can I offer my view on your comment. Trust you understand where I coming from ….

Rajesh Srivastava

Anish, I am not sure if new launches by Tata Motors can be benchmarked with International standards. If they indeed were it would get reflected in sales – revenue & bottom line & eventually in the stock price. Remember, numbers do not lie. Take the stock price of Tata Motors. It has sunk significantly below the Rights Issue price. Can you imagine the wealth it has destroyed? I belive this year they did not declare dividends? Why? The company could not afford to pay dividends. Do you know the debt that it carries on its Balance Sheet? For a company to turn around it need to do the right things – first get the product right; set up service networks across the country & many more things … Messi should come last in the last. Also tell me what was the need for the President to appear in the advertisement? I am a share holder of Tata Motors & am concerned.

Neeraj Kunte

They sure have targeted the youth. Surely there will be rise in no. of people taking test rides at Tata motor’s showrooms, but as you said sir, the only aspect by which they can win the crowd is the product quality. (Like Messi ;P) But it is now upto the people to atleast consider a Tata motor’s product while buying new car.

Rajesh Srivastava

Neeraj I agree with you … Messi may get more people to consider TM .. but if they did not like it earlier than I am not sure if they will like it now … the new vechile launched by TM generated interest but I am not sure how much of that got converted into sales … at least its share price does not reflect buoyancy in its sales.

Mayank Tewari

Well, I agree fully with you sir. First of all, TATA needs to develop a product which can create disruption in mid-high level segment. (Like Duster in recent times. Even Indica in its time). Unfortunately for TATA, the image which comes to mind regarding their brand is of Indica, Indigo, Safari,etc.- none of which are anywhere near to the value a customer expects from his money. And, what I think, even with Messi, not much positive would happen until and unless they have product to go with it (As you already have said).

Atul Dahiya

The new models launched by Tata Motors may well be worth trying, however, one of the prominent issues in attracting the youth to Tata cars is the looks. The new products still looks similar, if not identical, to the existing models and do not have the looks to attract the youths. The actual quality of the product in terms of performance, fuel efficiency, driving pleasure etc. only comes later. I firmly believe TATA Motors needs to put in some serious efforts in improving the looks of its cars to pose a challenge to its competitors.

anish

Dear Atul,
While you may be quite reasonable in your argument about Tata cars not presenting a refreshing look to the customers, external looks and style of the car have been one of the least important factors that have driven Indian consumers over the years. The phenomenal sales record of Maruti Suzuki vehicles over the past two decades reinforce the fact that trust and reliability in the brand and the after sales service offered have mostly been instrumental in capturing the imagination of the indian car consumer. To put things in perspective, few of the best selling Maruti cars have been voted as the worst designed cars ever made. Tata Motors have made their intent very clear to move to an entirely refreshing design language and this has been appreciated by the critiques in auto shows across the world.The Zest was just one of the many incremental design improvements that the company wishes to make all the way upto 2022. I think we should give the automaker a bit of time before throwing the fish out of the water.

Mayank Tewari

Hi Anish,

First things first, Zest is not at all a looker. Just look at the other cars- take any segment, and Zest pales in comparison to almost all of the new cars. And you are comparing the time when Maruti 800 was a luxury to the time where Indians have money to splurge on more value cars. Just look at the share of foreign automakers have of the Indian market now. Besides, Maruti offers much better services and quality in their cars than TATA currently. Maruti too is trying to revamp their designs to be able to compete with Foreign car manufacturers (take Baleno for example- a ripoff of X1 to many). They should have first launched the product and then should have gone for Messi. It would have made much more sense.

anish

Hi Mayank,
You have made a fair enough argument.Kindly allow me the liberty to rebut your argument point by point. The first – zest pales in design compared to peers – if this is your personal opinion then let me tell you that you are an exception from the norm.Not only has the zest won the best design awards at reputed forums but also has been ranked at par if not better than each of its competitors. The cars that it has been pitched against are the Dzire,Amaze and the Xcent.Your first statement of comparing zest against cars of ‘any segment’ is too far fetched a generalization to be taken at face value. The next point that you make is of Indians having the money to splurge on cars that have more value and of foreign car manufacturers ruling the roost in the indian car scenario.I would be surprised if you fail to appreciate the fact that inspite of the fact that there are at least 12 OEMs competing,Maruti still holds a close to 48 % market share.Take the data of any monthly figure sales of the last decade and you wont find a single car in the sub 4.5 lakh category making it to the top four.And all these cars – and I never spoke of Maruti 800- be it the Alto, the WagonR or the Santro are not known for their pleasing exteriors. (contd..)

anish

The point of Maruti offering better services than Tata currently is what I was exactly making in my statement.And we have the data here.Maruti tops the CSI JDP 2015 survey with 906 points with Tata at a joint third with Honda at 880. The fact that Tata has come a long way from the sixth spot in 2013 goes a long way in vindicating my point that they have put in tremendous effort to better their service experience. You gave the example of Baleno in the end.I agree to your point that the move by Maruti to launch new designs of their earlier failed products is a good strategy.For the Messi promotion part, he has been signed as the ambassador for the brand and not for any single product. Not only does he represent the passenger car division but the commercial vehicles division too. The #madeofgreat Messi campaign is surely a subset of a larger 10 year long product launch programme.Be rest assured of the fact that this ad campaign is not being carried in isolation. You will see frequent product upgrades and launches under the #madeofgreat umbrella.

PS : Since this is a strategy discussion forum, I would not like to let my biases affect my opinions on the site. I would encourage you to mail me on anish.kaulgud15@iimb.ernet.in if you have any specific issues with Tata cars apart from the company’s strategy.

Atul Dahiya

Dear Anish,

The acceptability of any car is reflected in its sales. While Zest may be a welcome step in the right direction by TATA Motors, in terms of performance as well as looks, it is still far from being a great car. The same is reflected in its relative sales performance. Maruti has been and still is the market leader in the passenger car segment of Indian Automotive Industry. While you may be right about looks not being as important as service network, trust and reliability of a brand, when it comes to entry level cars. However, when someone is spending 7-8 lacs for an entry level sedan, he/she would certainly value the looks in addition to reliability, availability of service centers etc. Tata motors is positioned as the makers of value for money and low maintenance cars, in the minds of the masses. The Messi strategy is unlikely to resonate with their existing brand positioning and strategy.

PS: I am not trying to rebut your arguments and only sharing my personal opinion

ayushag

How can a new campaign have its basis on previous launches? Messi campaign stands for refresh change which on comparison from with previous launches may be a costly mistake (if you are a Tata Shareholder :P).

Mayank Tewari

Sir,

I am not at all as much qualified as you to make such detailed and analysed opinions, but here is my take on your point of trust and reliability issue on entry level cars- totally from a consumer perspective, I don’t see the argument of trust and reliability holding much ground especially after the launch of Renault Kwid. The car is booked at almost every Renault outlet for at least 6 months (Atleast all those I know of and have heard of). Just a couple of days back, my very close friend working in automobile industry (he works in an engine component company which has ties with Renault so I am assuming he isn’t wrong), told me that Kwid’s bookings have raised the market share of Renault by as much as 1% !!!
So, I think we can not just ignore the fact that consumer at every segment is getting more aware about quality and looks and shedding old inhibitions and reservations over foreign-make cars. And coming to your point about sales. Sir, I think we are at a very volatile stage when it comes to Indian (consumer) automobile industry. I am strictly speaking for myself here, but it has been quite some time for me to see anyone buy a new Alto, Santro, Indica, etc. for personal use. But when it comes to them being used as commercial taxis, they are the most preferred choice in tier 2/3 cities, especially in hilly regions. Reason being their cheap maintenance. Take Tata Sumo for example. I think I might not be wandering too off the line when I say that the sale of sumo as a private vehicle is almost negligible. But still, its’ durability and cost effectiveness makes it the preferred choice as a commercial taxi in hilly terrains. And most of these are registered as private vehicles. So in a way, citing data for past decade to make predictions about even the next year would not be so feasible.

PS: I am not at all against Tata. In fact, I have been made to appreciate the engineering marvel Tata Nano is 😀

Rajesh Srivastava

Mayank may i make a request? I am not able to understand the issue you are trying to raise. Please state them in a few lines.

Mayank Tewari

Sir, what I am trying to say is the notion that people still prefer only Indian cars (Alto, et. all) is being rapidly becoming untrue. Renault Kwid stands as a testament to the fact that consumers, irrespective of the segment, are ready to put their money purely on the basis of what they see and their decisions do not heavily rely on just the so called reliability and trust on the brand.

Rajesh Srivastava

Mayank I would not really agree with you. In India investing in a car is a ‘big’ decision. And ‘reliability’ & ‘trust’ are ‘hygiene’ factors in buying decision – presence of these factors will not give a brand a competitive advantage but absence can kill it. Take the example quoted by you – Renault Kwid. I cannot comment of the sales numbers .. but if the sales are good then Renault’s ‘Goodwill’ – positive experiences of users of Renault products & its ‘Reputation’ – people who have not used Renault but have heard good things about it will definitely play a part in buying decision.

ayushag

Dear Mayank,

Kiwid has many technical issues which will come to light in few years.
And as far as new alto is concerned, they are still selling above 20k per month. So while you may not see them, they are people buying 😛

Mayank Tewari

Hi Ayush,

I can’t say for the technical aspects or anything related on the matter as I haven’t used the car personally or any such person thereof. But what I am trying to say is yes Alto is still selling the most no. of cars but its stranglehold is slowly vanishing. People are buying, yes. But it also includes many, many of those who use it for commercial purposes and does not reflect the real numbers of exclusive personal usage only. See I am not denying any of the facts and figures. But what I am saying is that to completely base a judgement on them in a market like India which clearly defies normalcy, is not completely correct also.

Rajesh Srivastava

Anish, I am sure you will appreciate the politeness & the professional manner in which Atul Dahiya & Mayank have engaged in a conversation with you. And so have you. Congratulations!

May I take the liberty of sharing a concept with you which can help you get people to buy into your argument? You should frame your argument in such a manner that it appeals to peoples self interest. This will change their behaviour towards your argument … then give them rational reason why they should change their opinion. Please do take time out to view this video … I share in detail the strategy which I have shared with you.
:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY0RXNuJoBg