Ajay Chandwani
Nov 03, 2023

Ajay's blog: The SUV market in India just got a lot more interesting...

Maruti Suzuki's film during the ICC Men's ODI World Cup gives the author an answer to a question that he's been looking for answers to...

Ajay's blog: The SUV market in India just got a lot more interesting...
A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a few friends in the marketing and advertising industry at an event and the subject of discussion veered to SUVs and their images, especially relevant in the last couple of years.
My friends and colleagues were neither customers nor those involved with building the images of the SUV brands we were talking about. But they had a strong opinion on SUV brands since I guess the category has become quite active in the last few years.
So which Indian brand is the dominant leader in the SUV category I asked my friends.
Pat came the answers… Tata Nexon and Harrier and the Mahindra XUV 700.
I shot back at them that each of these brands is so varied in their appeal that a clear leader does not emerge in their mind.
The Hyundai fan in the group drew our attention to Creta as the most successful SUV that appeals to both hatchback car lovers and quasi-off-roaders...
The off-roader fans in the group piped up that the Mahindra Thar and Maruti Suzuki Jimny are the only blue-blooded four-wheel drive genuine SUVs in the country. I was thinking about this conversation while driving back and ruminating about how the SUV market has evolved since the launch of the Tata Sierra and Tata Safari which I was involved with at SSC&B Lintas in the 90s...
The dominant SUV images running through my mind were Toyota’s Fortuner, the new offerings of MG Hector and Gloster, Kia Seltos and Sonet, Volkswagen's Taigun, Jeep Compass and Nissan Magnite. They have all made their mark.
Then, during the ICC Men's ODI World Cup, I saw the new Maruti Suzuki TVC announcing the company as the number in SUVs. I realised I had got the answer to my question.

Clearly, the SUV market has evolved into different segments ranging from genuine off-roaders to compact SUVs to mid-sized SUVs and lifestyle SUVs.
Maruti Suzuki’s Brezza, Grand Vitara, Fronx and Jimny don’t jump to mind despite their sales performance. Which is probably why Maruti Suzuki chose to highlight their supremacy in sales performance in the SUV market with this campaign.
Intrigued by this, I called up Shashank Srivastava, senior executive officer, marketing and sales, Maruti Suzuki, and the champion of this communication to learn more, who told me:
Maruti Suzuki has dominated the Indian automotive industry for so long that its leadership in the SUV segment may not have got noticed as much as its dominance in the small and medium car segments. Each of the four major SUV brands of Maruti Suzuki has a clear role and contribution to the company’s overall performance. This portfolio strategy of Maruti Suzuki in the SUV market has helped the company become a leader despite strong competition from lifestyle and design-based models.
Since I was also intrigued by the creative idea, Srivastava pointed me towards Sabuj Sen Gupta, NCD and managing partner of Hakuhodo in India with whom I discussed the creative idea.
He said the following:
SUV fans are known for their passion for the outdoors, their spontaneity in fixing up holiday destinations and their fondness of adventure. That’s why we wanted the brand to capture this spirit of the SUV lover in creating many starry nights in their lives and memorable impromptu getaways. Sales was the visible output of this key brand stimulus
One thing is for sure  the automotive industry is witnessing a segment that used to be a part of the market has now become as large and significant as the market itself.
The author is a strategic brand consultant and has previously been director, Lintas Mancom and president, SSC&B Lintas.


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