Branding expert Jack Trout's advice on Nano: Kill it, shut it, forget it

Touted as the world's cheapest car, the company launched the Nano at a time when the Indian middle class's awareness about branding and their ownership was undergoing a change, he has said.<br /><br />

FP Editors November 14, 2013 10:50:48 IST
Branding expert Jack Trout's advice on Nano: Kill it, shut it, forget it

Branding expert Jack Trout has a few hard advice for Indian corporates, of which the hardest is to Tata Motors, which is grappling with a problem of Nano.

In an interview to The Economic Times, Trout has spelt out what went wrong with the ultra small car - it is the positioning.

"The most telling thing they did is calling it a 'cheap car'," he has told the newspaper.

"People don't want a 'cheap' car, which their neighbours can see. Especially in India, there's a prestige there's a prestige thing about buying a car," he has said.

Branding expert Jack Trouts advice on Nano Kill it shut it forget it

A research report by Crisil said in 2009 that the lower cost of the car will make it affordable to an additional 14 million families, including a section of the 58 million two-wheeler owners. AFP

Touted as the world's cheapest car, the company launched the Nano at a time when the Indian middle class's awareness about branding and their ownership was undergoing a change, he has said.

Tata had launched the Nano in 2009 and sought to conquer the car market as the company aimed to cater to the middle class' dream of owning an affordable car.

However, the performance of the model has been terribly underwhelming over the years. Nano sales plummeted about 27 percent in 2012-13 and now the company largely dependent on the sales of luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover. This compares with the initial estimates that the car will enhance the car market by 65 percent.

A research report by Crisil said in 2009 that the lower cost of the car will make it affordable to an additional 14 million families, including a section of the 58 million two-wheeler owners.

The company has unsuccessfully tried many times to change the image of the Nano by adding new features. In September, the company said it would launch a diesel variant of the model.

But, Trout, who is a pioneer in positioning strategy in marketing, thinks the damage is already done.

Positioning is the key to selling a product. According to his theory, positioning helps create an image for a product or brand or even company. How the potential customers perceive a product is very important. It is comparison with the rival products that create this perception. This is where Tatas failed miserably.

"Tata Nano is hard to save, I would kill the brand," he has been quoted as saying in the report.

Trout's another piece of advice is to Bajaj Auto. He is a consultant for Bajaj Auto and SKS Microfinance.

According to another interview in the Business Standard, he has told Bajaj Auto board that keeping Bajaj name on all its products is stretching it too far. This will result in losing the focus.

"I told them you have two options really - be a motorcycle powerhouse and let the other Bajaj brands stand by themselves or you be a motorcycle brand also selling electricals," he has told the BS.

Trout has advised a large-scale rebranding for Bajaj Auto.

As far SKS Microfinance is concerned, as a crisis-ridden company, which has gone through a number of ups and downs, it is a very interesting task, he says.

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