Here’s How Fiat Can Become Fun and Sporty and Do Well in India
Fiat has a lot of fast and fancy mid-segment cars that are sold internationally, why not bring them to India?
Fiat India has been around for ages, however, their products haven’t really hit the jackpot despite receiving great reviews. Maybe it’s time to bring about a change in strategy. So, where exactly does Fiat India stand?
While most Fiat owners swear by their cars, the general perception in the market is that the brand has been floundering about for a few years now. Their focus seems to be all over the place – with a car like the Grande Punto at one end of the spectrum and the 500 Abarth at the other, it is hard to pinpoint what the company’s ambitions are. If I were to ask you to define Fiat in just one word, you would most likely respond with “confused”.
No doubt, the brand has taken a beating in terms of its image and this has resulted in poor sales over the last few years – averaging a little under 1000 units a month. In September 2015, the numbers dropped to an all-time low of just 539 units.
It doesn’t take much to understand that Fiat needs a solid new game plan to chart their way towards success in the Indian market. While Fiat has tried to carve their niche in the large hatchback segment as well as the premium midsize sedan segment with products like the Grande Punto and the Linea, the competition has been tough and without a solid footprint across the country, the brand has not been able to leverage the true potential of these models. So what can Fiat do? Mind you, I am only talking about the brand and not the holding company – FCA.
The Grande Punto and Linea have been around for ages. The few upgrades have done little to enhance their appeal. Reports of the new Tipo sedan and hatchback being introduced in India are doing the rounds and it would be wise to bring in these cars sooner rather than later.
These two products can lead Fiat’s mass-market product strategy, however, the need to include more models is necessary – especially when you consider just how many sub-segments exist in the small and midsize passenger car category here in India.
Where I feel Fiat has made the right effort is in building an aura of performance around the brand. The Abarth editions might not clock numbers, but they do help in brand building. It’s good that they are here, however, Fiat ought to figure out how to price them a little more lucratively. Having said that, it isn’t something that the company should stop. In fact, the new 124 Spider would make for a welcome addition to Fiat’s high-end sporty lineup.
The other vehicle that Fiat ought to consider for the Indian market is the Fullback pickup truck. With the Fullback, Fiat could step into a segment that hasn’t really witnessed any action in India. With only the Mahindra Scorpio Getaway and Tata Xenon currently on offer and the Isuzu V-Cross on the anvil, it is a fresh new segment and the Fullback looks like it could walk away with a solid chunk of the pie.
With a line-up that includes the Tipo variants, the Abarth 500, and Avventura powered by Abarth, the 124 Spider and the Fullback, Fiat would actually have a very interesting mix of products on offer. The underlying theme with all these, however, can easily be categorised as sporty and fun – and that is the brand perception that Fiat should set out to establish in the country.
I also feel that there is a major need to reach out to a younger audience and that can only be done through a solid digital strategy. The conventional medium of communication does not have the reach that digital offers and the need of the hour is to get more people to hear their voice. Educating potential customers about Fiat’s products can only be carried out on a large scale if the company embraces digital media formats.
Fiat needs to be a young brand and with the right product mix and communication strategy on the right channels, I believe it is possible to turn things around and become a fun and sporty brand. Of course, this will also have to be backed up by a robust sales and service network, but things will fall into place provided Fiat conforms to the game plan.
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