Banking on NEXA’s success, Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL) is harnessing the premium retail channel to create newer formats of lifestyle experiences. It is, thus, not surprising that the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) is building experiential properties to cash in on the growth and further upgrade its existing consumers to NEXA while also building brand loyalty.
NEXA currently operates over 250 outlets. Launched in July 2015, NEXA has sold more than 1.5 lakh units in FY17. However NEXA doesn’t stop at selling cars; it reaches out to its customers throughout their ownership period with curated events and experiences. That’s where its properties fit in. With three properties around fashion, music and travel, the OEM aims to build communities across these genres. Apart from music videos and live performances, NEXA Music Lounge also produces Music Reversion. NEXA Journeys is about drives and outdoor experiences, and NEXA Lifestyle is about fashion shows, men’s fashion tips, curated designer workshops and makeover videos.
Hitting the road
“NEXA is not just a retail concept. The positioning of NEXA is about experiences. Our TG is consumers who are keen to buy cars, are well travelled and digitally savvy,” says Vinay Pant, AVP —marketing, Maruti Suzuki.
Each of its properties has curated experiences around lifestyle. For example, NEXA Journeys on Asian Highway 1 Driven by S-Cross aims to provide an experience of cross-border travelling on astounding routes. “This is a reality travel and adventure show in which five known personalities from diverse creative fields come together on a drive from India to Thailand via Myanmar. As they drive along, they soak up the local music, food, art, customs, people and more,” says Pant. The NEXA Journeys on Asian Highway 1 Driven by S-Cross went on air recently on Discovery, Discovery Turbo and Discovery HD.
Similarly, properties around music and fashion are aimed at bringing people together.
Pant calls NEXA Music a Coke
Studio of western fusion. “For this, we have tied up with three artists — Vishal Dadlani, Monica Dogra and Benny Dayal. We also released music videos of Monica, Vishal and Benny, in addition to their live gigs performed under the banner of Nexa Music Lounge,” says Pant.
Live gigs are both for NEXA and non-NEXA customers and were first launched on November 16 last year. So far, four music videos are available on YouTube that have garnered around 9.5 million views.
NEXA Lifestyle, on the contrary, is focussed only on men’s fashion. For this, it has tied up with GQ and India Fashion Week. It also curates workshops for customers at NEXA showrooms. “With these curated experiences, MSIL is creating brand IPs, going beyond products. The experiences are a combination of physical and virtual,” observes brand consultant Harish Bijoor. “While the physical experience is on entering a NEXA showroom, the virtuality of the brand will be in the spin-offs achieved with NEXA music, travel and lifestyle.”
MSIL is not the first OEM to have an experiential play. The Fiat Café was also an experiment in this direction. “It has, however, remained an anecdotal dalliance,” says Bijoor.
Analysts say so far it has been a mixed bag for OEMs in India when it comes to creating lifestyle experiences, the most common example being MTV Roadies, which was sponsored and marketed by Hero Honda. “MTV Roadies was not able to build a positive image. And therefore, it is not considered a successful venture when it comes to brand association with a lifestyle product,” opines Kaushik Madhavan, director, automotive and transportation practices, MENASA, Frost & Sullivan.
One of the biggest success stories in the space is that of Mahindra Great Escape. “Over the years, Mahindra has been able to successfully associate Mahindra SUV vehicles with a very distinct and exclusive Great Escape franchise,” says Madhavan, as it creates experiences not only for its owners but also its potential customers.
Ditto for Royal Enfield — its dealerships are now all about brand experience, and so is its unconventional marketing. It was earlier considered the bike for the middle aged, but this image has been transformed with dealership makeovers and organising rides like Himalayan Odyssey. Now it is about long distance group riding and building a sense of camaraderie, with unconventional marketing.
But does creating IPs in non-related categories like music and fashion work? “Yes,” feels Madhavan. “By launching such properties, MSIL is complementing its existing businesses. If it is able to create upmarket association through these properties, it will work in MSIL’s favour.”
Furthermore, properties around music and lifestyle cut across gender. “Through these, doors open for consumers to connect with all MSIL brands, not just NEXA,” says Meenakshi Mehta, head, strategy, marcom, Kestone IMS. However, it is a long-term strategy and major pitfalls include competition in the lifestyle space and the scale being too wide.