Citroen India top management shared details of its India retail plans. The brand will be targetting key Indian cities in the first leg with its globally renowned ‘La Maison Citroen’ showroom concept. It plans a roadmap to establish 10 La Maison outlets in the country, in order to establish the brand in India as it sets off with the premium C5 Aircross crossover, which is expected to retail at price points upwards of Rs 30 lakh.
A key subsidiary of Stellantis – the world’s fourth-largest automotive conglomerate – the French brand is set to debut in Indian markets in March.
‘La Maison Citroen’ is a commercially-viable retail concept that embodies the brand’s core values of comfort, warmth and well-being, and deploys a host of digital and physical elements to offer a rich experience to customers. The retail concept was first introduced in 2017, and Citroen had a total of 19 such outlets around the world as of end-May 2019.
The company which had signed JVs with the companies of the CK Birla Group in 2017, and already commenced production and export of gearbox and transmissions from Hosur, is now ready to make its market debut in India with the introduction of the Citroen C5 Aircross SUV, slated to launch by March 2021.
10 urban showrooms
While its pilot showroom in Ahmedabad, Gujarat was up and running from last year, the company is readying an outlet in West Delhi ahead of its March launch. Eiight more showrooms are slated to be set up in Gurgaon, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. These showrooms are going to be spread across 4,000 square feet (400 square metre) with a four-car display as well as a dedicated zone for new-vehicle delivery.
The outside façade will have a live video screen to attract customers, and on the inside, the layout will be based on industrial design featuring LED lighting, digital standees and also have Citroen’s heritage car on display to establish brand legacy.
A customer lounge, mood screens and ‘Le Citroenist cafe’ will be the highlights to enhance ambience and sense of warmth and comfort for incoming buyers. Company is also paying stress on 3D configurators which would allow vehicle customisation and therefore aim to strike a deeper connect with individual buyers.
According to Roland Bouchara, senior vice-president, Sales and Marketing, Citroen India, “This concept is in line with our brand promise of comfort and warmth and it will provide an immersive Citroen brand experience to customers. Our phygital retail approach will provide a seamless omni-channel car-buying experience.”
According to Joel Verany, vice president, Sales and Network Development, Citroen India, “We have seen a boost in digital sales after the pandemic. While we can do a lot of things with digital, what is important is to meet customer expectations and provide unmatched service and experience. So, we are building a full ecosystem and all stakeholders are involved to bring innovation into the phygital approach being offered by Citroen India.”
It is also noteworthy that contrary to its global strategy of having small, homely spaces of up to 150 square metres, the La Maison concept-based showrooms in these cities are upwards of 400 square metres in size.
However, Citroen India says that going forward, it has plans to set up smaller showrooms in non-metro locations with a two-car display space, while still retaining the same levels of customer experience as the bigger outlets.
Ready to roll out
India being a highly competitive and price-sensitive market could be excruciatingly tough to operate and with a strategy to start from the premium segment, Citroen could take time to make the connect with the mainstream buyers.
But, according to Bouchara, “We are the last comers, but probably not the last ones to enter the Indian market. What we are going to sell is not only the car, but something that offers excellent comfort for its users. Comfort is the USP and legacy of brand Citroen.”
After the C5 Aircross, Citroen India will introduce one new model every year for the next ‘several years’ and is working on its ‘C-Cubed’ strategy of offering different models on a modular platform developed specifically for emerging markets.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Citroen India had to delay its official entry in India to this year instead of the last year. However, there is a possibility of one more model getting introduced after the C5 Aircross.
According to Saurabh Vatsa, senior director, Marketing and PR Operations, Citroen India, “We are getting ready to roll out the C5 Aircross in the coming months and will reveal further strategy in due course of time.”
The company has already started testing its brand-new compact crossover based on the aforementioned Common Modular Platform (CMP) meant for markets like India and South America. Codenamed C21, the new crossover is already being tested and would come powered by a sole 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol-only offering. It is expected to hit the brand’s showrooms by the festive season of 2021.
“India is a tough market with just two major players having a significant hold of the passenger vehicle space. This leaves many other brands which have been in the country for over a decade to struggle with only 2-5 percent market share. First of all, we need to be humble and simultaneously believe that we have a huge opportunity to become one of the important players. India’s huge growth potential in the coming years, as well as the evolution of the passenger vehicle segment towards newer body styles gives us the chance to emerge stronger,” Bouchara added.
“Within this kind of segment evolution, we believe that with the help of our product portfolio we will become one of the major players, aided by our strategy of offering heavily localised multiple products on the same platform. Moreover, the young population is ready to adopt digital tools and our phygital approach gives us a good chance to serve this customer better,” Bouchara concluded.
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