Having achieved a good position in the commercial segment of the tyre trade, A Vinod Kumar, Head-Marketing, Ceat Limited, is now focusing on media to build the passenger segment
What are the marketing activities that you undertake to build your brand?
We mostly do category-specific marketing programmes, including ATL and BTL. We have the ‘beidiotsafe’ campaign for bike tyres which is a combination of TVCs and digital. For truckowners, we have a knowledge-sharing platform called the CEAT Pro. We have also instituted India’s first Road Transportation Award, to recognise and felicitate innovators in the transport field. We also do regular consumer meets at local levels, through our field teams. Stand branding is done for LCV and SCV markets. For rural markets, we participate in rural fairs and haats. We do lots of static medium like wall paintings and tin-plates. We also run a road safety awareness programme for school children called CEAT Safety Zone. We have covered over 200 schools across the country. In the digital space, we do a lot of activities targeted at youth. Among these are cricket related quizzes and the ‘bediotsafe’ site on Facebook, where we invite people to share photos and videos of the ‘idiots’ they have faced on the roads. We are closely associated with cricket through the CEAT Cricket Rating system, for the last 15 years. PR is another frame in our marketing programme. We believe that PR is an important tool to build brand credibility and grow our equity with all our target audiences. We also work closely with influencers like mechanics, for whom we run a ‘Gaadi ka Guru’ engagement programme and with retreaders, for whom we run the ‘TreadPro’ programme.
What are the key insights behind your marketing activities?
All our communications are designed after detailed consumer insighting. In the case of the ‘beidiotsafe’ campaign, the insight was that the biggest risks that the biker faces on the road are other people who are careless and indifferent to others on the road. In the case of CEAT PRO knowledge seminars for truck fleet owners, the insight was that fleet owners do not have a platform where they can address all their operations-related issues. We got together experts from various associated fields like lubes, telematics, auto financing and insurance, etc. on one platform. These experts share their knowledge with the fleet owners to help them run their businesses better and also to answer specific queries. The insight behind the India Road Transport Awards was that though the transport industry plays a pivotal role in moving the country’s economy, truck fleet owners do not get the same respect and recognition as other professions. Hence a forum to recognise and felicitate them will go a long way in promoting development in the industry in India.
After a gap of almost 12 years, Ceat Tyres rolled out its product campaign in November last year. Why now?
CEAT had come back to the media for sometime in 2008 when we changed to our new look. CEAT’s business portfolio has consisted mainly of the commercial segment for many years. We are now expanding our presence in the passenger space, dominated today by the likes of MRF and Bridgestone. Media campaigns work better for the passenger segment than the commercial segment, where purchase decisions largely depend on commercial considerations. Hence we are now focusing on media to build our passenger business.
How is the ‘beidiotsafe’ campaign different from your previous campaigns?
The ’beidiotsafe’ campaign is a very innovative and distinctly different campaign. It was conceptualised based on a strong consumer insight that the biggest hazards to bikers are other people on the road who are careless and indifferent. It struck the right chord with bikers and we have got huge feedback. The TVC was supported by the ‘beidiotsafe’ digital campaign where we got people to share photos and videos of ‘idiots’ on the road. The Facebook page has over 75,000 fans. When we broke the campaign, we also associated at 145 Café Coffee Day outlets across the country, to touch our TG. Also POS at dealer outlets helped the consumer connect strongly with the message. Hence it was a 360 degree campaign, which has worked very well for us.
Who is your target audience and how do you plan to trap them?
Our core TG is 18-35 years old. For the passenger segment, we plan to engage them through both ATL and BTL communication. As for the commercial segment, we will engage them through properties like CEAT Pro and consumer meets.
What do you have to say about your competitors? What’s your USP?
Our main competitors like MRF, Bridgestone and Apollo have very strong marketing programmes of their own. They have attained leadership position in the industry by virtue of their product propositions and their strong associations with their TG. As far as CEAT is concerned, we believe that consumer insighting is the key to build relevant and sustainable communication, engagement and association with the TG.
One learns more from failures than successes. Can you share any such phase or incident in your brand marketing that helped you learn and reach a higher pedestal?
There was a time when we regularly followed conventional methods to communicate with our TG. This did not help us create a distinctive communication and positioning. Once we realized the power of insighting, our communications became more focused and relevant. This helped us build our brand with the chosen TG.
While most component-makers made hay when the auto industry boomed in 2010-11, it was an entirely different story for the tyre industry. Tyre manufacturers saw their profits slump. What is your take on it?
Competitive intensity in the tyre industry is very high, coupled with low level of product differentiation. Also the fortunes of the tyre industry are closely linked with the prices of natural rubber and crude.
What is your biggest challenge today?
Our biggest challenge today is to grow our passenger business. This calls for, apart from superior product offerings, building a long term, credible and relevant engagement with our TG.
What is the future of the tyre industry? How can one stand out in the market?
With the growth in the automobile industry projected to continue, the future of the tyre industry is bright. Companies which can get closer to the consumer, understand their latent needs with regard to both product and experience, will get to lead the industry.
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