The compact SUV is the segment to watch out for: Kaustav Roy, JD Power Asia Pacific

Indian companies such as Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor can make a match of global players in international markets.

By: | Updated: March 21, 2016 12:31 PM

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Kaustav Roy, JD Power Asia Pacific

Recently, JD Power Asia Pacific organised its annual India awards presentation to honour the achievements of the highest ranked awardees in the company’s India syndicated studies. “These awards are the result of obtaining feedback from close to 50,000 customers in India in 2014,” says Kaustav Roy, director, JD Power Asia Pacific. In an interaction with Vikram Chaudhary of The Financial Express, he adds that because these awards are not based on subjective evaluations, they are as transparent as they can get. Excerpts:

In developed markets such as the US, the JD Power results even affect buying decisions. Have you reached such a stage in India?

Our primary responsibility is to give the consumer feedback back to the OEMs. That way, the OEMs can develop their products and services in a better way. The news that our reports affect buyer choice pleases us, but that is not our focus area. Our focus area is inwards—towards the industry—rather than we talking to a customer and saying that a particular brand is better than the other. Our job is to increase brand and industry awareness. In India, we are still trying to increase our visibility.

How transparent are your awards?

Our awards are based on a simple concept—customer feedback. They are based on market research. We go out and meet customers, sometimes randomly chosen. Once they agree to be part of the survey, we spend about 30-45 minutes with them, as they fill our questionnaire. We collect the data and process it. I must add that this data is all facts, numbers and figures, unlike many other awards which are based on subjective evaluations. Our awards are based on a particular quantitative metric.

What is your sample size?

While it depends on various factors, we talk to 8,000-odd customers for a four-wheeler study and 10,000-odd customers for a two-wheeler study. The four-wheeler studies are primarily done in the top-30 cities of the country and the two-wheeler studies are conducted in top-45 cities.

How do you make money?

Behind our surveys, there is reams and reams of data, which OEMs subscribe to for a fee. Then there are other proprietary engagements with clients; for example, some clients would want to understand how they can make their products or services better. These, largely, are our revenue streams.

What was the need to come out with a study on tractors?

India is the largest tractor market in the world. With increasing mechanisation, the tractor space is going to get crowded and competition will increase. We saw an opportunity in this—that it would be good if we could provide the industry a competitive benchmarking. Remember, these studies not only tell you about yourself but also tells you about your competition. This is an India-specific study.

JD Power recently said that Indian two-wheeler companies can succeed globally, provided they produce durable and quality products…

Yes, Indian companies such as Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor can make a match of global players in international markets. Indian companies have that level of understanding of what ticks in what segment. These can be replicated in other similar global markets where they export. The challenge, however, is the long-term durability and quality of the vehicles.

Can Royal Enfield replicate its success in India in other countries too?

Royal Enfield motorcycles, I believe, can generate some interest in countries where people ride long distances, where there is a culture of leisure biking. However, Royal Enfield will have to invest in their products.  if is going to be a reverse challenge. When a Harley or a Triumph

Hyundai will soon launch its compact SUV. Next year Maruti will also enter the compact SUV space. Mahindra is also readying one. Can such compact SUVs become as popular as, say, the sub-4 metre sedans today are?

There is a market for user-friendly SUVs in India—SUVs which are not large in size and which are suited for our urban traffic conditions—and the success of the Renault Duster and the Ford EcoSport has already proved that. With the entry of Hyundai and Maruti, however, the market could see a major rise. Compact SUV will be an interesting segment to watch out for.

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