Q] What are the ways through which Tata Motors will allay consumers’ fears around car purchase and help with social distancing post lockdown?
At Tata Motors, the safety of our customers, dealers and their staff is of utmost importance. Accordingly, we have developed and shared a new, comprehensive set of Standard Operating Procedure for engagement. This SOP includes maintaining prudent social distancing as also adhering to prescribed hygiene and sanitation standards across all customer interaction areas both inside and outside each dealership as well as its workshop and back office. These guidelines are in line with the government-mandated norms. We are virtually imparting training to our dealers for practicing this SOP such that they are ready to engage with customers safely as they open post lock down. Additionally, our dealer staff will now provide precise timings for meetings and make appointments only after verifying all requirements. The dealership staff has also been asked to put up a document drop box for insurance and registration documents at the dealership, or receive them via mail to eliminate the possibility of any physical contact. We have also asked dealer staff to encourage customers to come with a minimum number of family members and that paperwork is kept ready at the time of delivery.
Q] You have launched ‘Click to Drive’, a contactless sales platform, but every consumer would like to test drive the car before purchase. How will you ensure safety in that?
A significant change will take place in terms of customer test drives, in the immediate future. We will be providing test drive services only if the customer requires one. We will also ensure that the test drive vehicle is sanitized along with putting protective covers on interior parts that come in contact frequently with the customer.
Q] Are these new-age digital technologies temporary, until the Covid-19 crisis passes and the world goes back to normal; or do you feel these steps can become a way of life for Tata Motors sales in future?
The online model won’t completely replace the traditional model of purchasing. However, the digital model is aimed at minimizing the amount of physical contact that the traditional model requires. As of present day, customer interaction takes place right from the first step till the end. A customer starts searching for a product six months before he actually purchases it, thereby making the overall process last longer as compared to the previous process’s timeline, which is three weeks. Therefore, the digital sale process is more detailed and customer focused. Furthermore, digital product demos will play an important role in making product exploration more experiential for the customer.
Q] Once the pandemic is behind us, would you say the trend of spending much more on Digital medium will stay... or will Tata Motors go back to spending on mainstream platforms like TV, Print in the same ratio as earlier?
The COVID-19 pandemic has established that Digital is here to stay. We anticipate that the spending for Digital will go up to 20-25% of the total marketing budget.
Q] It’s the second bad year in a row for auto-makers... once the lockdown is lifted, what kind of increase in demand are you foreseeing for cars? Like China, do you see more consumers rushing to buy cars post Covid-19 outbreak or the reverse? Will you increase ad spends or will you be more cautious?
As people adapt to the norms of social distancing and move away from using public transport, the demand for personal vehicles is expected to go up, thereby driving the demand for personal mobility. However, time will tell what the exact outcome is.