In Anna's India how did the Nano fail?

The Nano has flopped in India. Harish Vasudevan gives some advertising and marketing steps that would have helped the car survive and made it a true people's car.

Harish Vasudevan August 26, 2011 12:31:09 IST
In Anna's India how did the Nano fail?

For those who don't know what the Nano is click here.

Recently when I was in India, I heard that the car had flopped. Then in today's paper I read about it in more detail. Yes it had failed rather spectacularly and now they were planning to resort the usual practise of deals, price offs, exchanges etc.

I am just amazed at this turn of events.

People over at Coke get you to fork out money over water - coloured and plain - that you don't need and here was a company that had failed witha product that people needed, indeed coveted. I do hope that the first thing the folks at Tata Motors did was to fire the whole marketing department. They have failed the brand, the company and in many ways the country. It was after all the first country to produce that technical marvel.

There have been many missteps. From my limited knowledge from distance let me point out a few.

1. People's car: Who wants a people's car? Or a people's PC? Or a people's bag? Or a people's phone? The whole principle of marketing is built on desire. I don't want a people's car. I won't pay big bucks for that. Yet that's what the Nano is referred to as. The People's Car. They're confusing the PR sound byte for government approval with positioning.

2. Quantity: Due to political challenges they couldn't produce the cars in the quantity planned. Yet this didn't seem to change their marketing plans. Here was a great opportunity to use the scarcity to build desire around the brand. Limited edition cars. Sequenced. Numbered. Auctioned. Proceeds going to charity. For example, set up an education fund for the girl child. Imagine the hype and visibility. Besides it gets the brand associated with something of wide appeal. That's the way to be seen as a car of the people, than saying 'people's car'.

3. Last year there was an Art Fair in Delhi. And this fabulous artist called Ketna Patel did the below ( in picture) with the Nano.

In Annas India how did the Nano fail

Nano by Ketana Patil. AFP

Again, another great opportunity gone a-begging. A smart marketer would've got 25 artists to paint the Nano in their style and sold/auctioned it off in a high visibility media show. More visibility. More desirability.

Taking off from the above they could look at producing 'skins' of various artists that could be pasted on the car. You could create the world's first personalised car. I imagine there is technology to make the skins replaceable. Now you could have 'different' cars with the same car.

4. Anna Hazare Unless you've been under a cave you would have seen/heard/read about this man who's been on fast for over 10 days fighting corruption. It's caught the nation's attention, in fact the attention of the world. Ratan Tata,the man who runs the Tata empire, has over the last week, come out publicly to say corruption has gotten worse. The House of Tata is reputed to be clean and corruption-free (the recent telecom scandal not withstanding). He should've donated a Nano to Anna for his use to ferry him around. Don't have to say a word. The gesture would say it all, and India forever would have the image of Anna in a Nano. The people's man needs a people's car. Don't call it a people's car. Let people draw their own conclusions.

I imagine there are many more marketing missteps that car aficionados would come up with. The above is output from a 10 minute bus ride this morning!!

From my perspective with limited car knowledge I think a crime's been committed, and someone needs to pay!

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