Merc’s formula to get to number one in India
With 14 cars unveiled and one more in the offing, Mercedes-Benz India is on a roll. Roland S Foger, managing director & CEO, speaks on what makes the company tick
n the early part of this decade, when the Indian luxury car market was dominated by swanky BMWs and Audis, incumbent Mercedes-Benz India lacked a matching product line to appeal to customers.
In 2009, when Audi entered the market, Mercedes-Benz was pushed to the second position and in 2012, it was relegated to the number three slot.
A nervous Mercedes-Benz developed a strategy, sourced products from its bases from across the globe and put pedal to the metal.
It declared 2013 the Year of Offensive, and edged up to number two. Then, it declared the following year the Year of Excellence. And 2015 was Live the Best. It was at the top this year, selling 10,079 units by the September quarter as compared to 10,201 units in 2014. On Tuesday, it will unveil the new A Class, the 15th car it has introduced in India this year.
Roland S Folger, managing director & CEO, Mercedes-Benz India, attributes it to timing and the right product mix.
Lalatendu Mishra caught up with Mr Folger, who has just taken over the Indian operations.
Excerpts from the interview:
A few years ago, BMW and Audi made massive inroads
into the luxury car market in India. What strategy did you adopt to bounce back?
It is a mix of several things. The timing has worked really well for us. We have been able to offer the right products for the Indian market. Ten to 15 years ago, we predominately relied on E and C Class cars, mainly sedans. We found that we could extend our customer base by offering SUVs, and that helped. We also introduced smaller cars. In addition to the product offering, the whole line of product-related services helped. Our financing options, dealer network are more meaningful than any competitor can offer.
So here we have a winning formula, just like Formula One.
Was it difficult to stage a comeback to number one slot?
It is much more important in the early days to define the differentiators and other success factors. We have figured out that it helps to have products, be competitive and have the right service.
Now we have to live up to those expectations, and prepare