Maruti Suzuki is the car maker for the masses as the tone of my earlier article indicated. The carmaker though does not seem too happy with this tag and is looking for an image makeover. This unhappiness, I believe, stems from the fact that its products like the Kizashi and Vitara SUV, which the company portrayed as a premium offering haven’t managed to do well despite having the potential.
The company appears to have figured out that the Indian customer who looks for a bigger car or a more luxurious car, not only looks at the product but also the image of the brand selling it. If you look at it that way, the Indian auto major loses the plot right there. Maruti Suzuki wants itself to be seen as a brand that can make products for both ends of the automotive spectrum, like making cheap and affordable small cars to making cars which are brilliantly engineered and viewed as a premium offering. This is a balance which most car makers strive for but few achieve.
To turn things in its favour, Maruti Suzuki will be hiring sales staff having highly-evolved soft skills. Manpower will be sourced from hospitality, insurance sectors as well as from showrooms of premium automotive brands like Mercedes, BMW etc. To start off, 1,800 people will be recruited for the core team and they will begin operation from top 20 cities of the country. This team will get behavioural training and the getup will also be both professional and premium, constituting of a jacket and tie, complete with a tablet. The tablet is provided to immediately enlighten customers about the superiority of their products. A company first initiative of visiting customer premises for a test drive or product demo is also said to be on the anvil.
These changes are being employed at an opportune moment, what with the launch of the Ciaz some time away and other products planned for next year, which include a compact SUV and the SX-4 Cross crossover.