Citroen has some big plans for India, but this doesn’t necessarily mean large dealerships for the brand. The company says it’s fine with setting up showrooms spanning just 150 sq mt in area, contrary to the current norm of setting up big, multi-storied showrooms.
Citroen says its data shows that customers visiting showrooms prefer spending their time behind the wheel, as they've done a chunk of their research at home. With this in mind, the firm launched its ‘La Maison Citroen’ concept in France in 2017, and today it has 17 such outlets worldwide. When Citroen enters India, the dealerships here would adopt this new model as well as the ‘La Maison’ branding right from the outset.
La Maison, which means ‘home’ in French, uses wood and earthy tones accented by bright highlights to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. There's also a highly interactive virtual system via which users can configure their cars at home and then carry on the configuration process in the showroom. The focus here is on outstanding customer experience, driven by digital tools and a feeling of warmth rather than sheer size.
Citroen says the format works with just two cars on display, a tech wall and a small café and discussion area. Speaking at La Maison Citroen in Paris, Joel Verany, Vice President Distribution Strategy and Network Development Citroen India, said, “Data from all these 17 showrooms consistently shows higher customer satisfaction scores than the levels in our older style, larger showrooms.”
A smaller size actually helps bring about a cozy feeling, plus it also lowers the dealers required investment, thus improving the business plan. This is especially the case in large cities where real estate costs in prime display locations can run sky high. However, for a new brand in India, this approach could also pose some challenges.
Citroen isn't a well-known brand in India, and customers often tend to associate the size of a showroom with the size and stability of the brand. This could work against Citroen here – a market driven by a ‘play safe’ attitude when it comes to car purchases.
In any case, Joel says the company isn't limiting the size of the showrooms; 150 sq mt is only the minimum required amount. Further, the company said they will also invest in building the brand. Arnaud Belloni, Marketing and Communication Director of the company said, “We will invest in building our brand in India and we are open to all options right from the conventional ads and endorsements, talking about our French roots to even other avenues like festivals and motorsports where we have a very strong heritage.” He further added that while motorsports may seem like an unlikely angle for India, it can easily convey the durability and ride quality Citroen cars are known for.
The company is currently on a dealer roadshow and expects to have dealers identified this year itself, with the first car, the C5, set to hit the roads sometime later next year.
Citroen to launch C5 Aircross in India
Citroen to launch a new model in India every year from 2021
Citroen C5 Aircross image gallery