The Glanza – which, as we’ve been reporting, is the first of the rebadged Maruti Suzuki models – has helped Toyota gain more first-time customers. With sales having hit the 11,499-unit mark in six months since its launch, around 50 percent of Glanza buyers were new Toyota customers.
While cross-badging or badge-engineering – the strategy of selling a car under two different brands with minor or no changes – has been adopted multiple times in India, success stories are few and far between. Despite that, Toyota launched the Glanza – essentially a Maruti Suzuki Baleno with Toyota badges – in April at Rs 7.22 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and going by the first few months' performance, it seems the strategy may be working for both Japanese carmakers.
N Raja, Deputy MD, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, says that more than the cross-badging, it's the focus on the customer experience around the product that is yielding positive results. "Right from exchange, giving loyalty offers for corporate and then the overall customer experience by way of our Toyota Edge (all- inclusive EMI covering insurance and maintenance for three years). In the current situation, banks hesitate to finance 85 percent. But here we are covering additional cost using Toyota Finance," he explains.
While this is aimed at easing the affordability factor, Toyota Kirloskar Motor has adopted an approach to gain customer confidence on the Toyota brand, especially from the first-timers. The SOP (standard operating procedure) in the first service is to show them around the facilities, show them My Quick Service – the 60min service facility – and everything done to the car during this period, so as to also allay any concern that customers may have about the carmaker skimping of any operations.
Efforts like these have helped gain some positive word of mouth – a highly effective strategy in India; and perhaps more precious in the industry's current challenging period. Toyota also just launched a more affordable Glanza variant at Rs 6.98 lakh to push sales even more during the festive season.
Rebadged Maruti Vitara Brezza, Ertiga and Ciaz in the pipeline
Toyota's first hatchback model in India, the Etios Liva, didn't quite meet expectations; but the company says that the Glanza is doing better than expected. Toyota’s rival to the Honda Jazz and Hyundai i20 will be joined by at least three more rebadged Maruti models. As part of the Suzuki-Toyota alliance, the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga MPV, Vitara Brezza compact SUV and Ciaz midsize sedan will all be supplied to Toyota. The two Japanese carmakers are also collaborating on the development of hybrid and electric models and will co-develop a new C-segment MPV as well, which both brands will retail.
"These are giving new platforms for us to engage with customers in two ways – new customers, and existing additional customers," says Raja. "Toyota Kirloskar Motor wants to gain customers for life, and the cross-badging strategy will be leveraged to gain more of them at a stage earlier than they enter into the Toyota fold in other segments now.”