For Maruti, keeping an eye on consumer trends is key

by Sumantra B Barooah 31 May 2021

Shashank Srivastava: “We identify what we call the red spots (where other OEMs have presence), white spots (totally new space) and the blue spots (partially catered to by other OEMs)”.

It is a straightforward mantra at Maruti Suzuki. “We keep examining the trends of consumer choices that keep changing for different segments…which of these is getting bigger, smaller and so on,” says Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki.

The next step then is to identify — “what we call” — the red spots (where other OEMs have presence), white spots (a totally new space) and blue spots (partially catered to by other OEMs).

For now, Maruti Suzuki is comfortably ahead in the compact car space and is more than aware that it has its work cut out in the more competitive SUV segment. SUVs already contribute to 32 percent of domestic sales and are tipped to reach around 40 percent by 2025-26. 

From the company’s point of view, the good news is it has covered some ground already with the Vitara Brezza in the compact SUV space which saw sales of 4.45 lakh units in 2020-21.  Devoid of a diesel option, the model is benefitting from consumer shift towards petrol which has nearly doubled in compact SUVs from 39 percent in FY 20 to 74 percent in FY21. 

Maruti Suzuki retailed nearly one lakh Vitara Brezzas. This translates to 7 percent of the OEM's total sales last fiscal and reports suggest that it is working on the next generation version. The company is also expected to debut in the midsize SUV space which accounts for 15 percent of overall SUV sales and just behind their compact siblings which take up 16.5 percent. 

In this backdrop, it is a moot point if the SUV boom will continue forever. “Obviously, there is a fatigue factor not just for segments but for specific models also,” says Srivastava. According to him, research shows that this could set in once a particular segment crosses the 250,000 mark in annual sales.

However, new models may help counter this fatigue and actually stimulate demand. “If you do not bring products, then competitors surely will,” cautions Srivastava while driving home the message that it is critical to constantly stay ahead in the race. 

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