How did you tap into a segment that has lower-end user involvement?
This was possible due to communication. Marketing is mostly field activation, meeting the resellers, garages, mechanics, and talking to the OEM dealer network in order to introduce the product. Both must go together. None of these two key pillars can work without the other. Of course, we had to make the foundation to learn the market, and discover who can be our potential partner because the country is large. First, we did some kind of field coverage, and then when everything is established the communication part was implemented. In today’s life we are all very busy, so we need to know how we can really approach and how we can market the product to the consumer, or to the target audience. There are many digital platforms where my colleagues are perfectly managing this.
How can end-users especially the younger demographic become more involved in influencing the usage of engine oil in their own vehicle?
In many markets there is a huge debate on how the communication and the sales channels or the channelisation can cover all segments. The end consumers of lubricants does not necessarily decide which engine oil goes into their vehicle, the mechanic does. However, if riders and drivers like the product, they can always suggest to the mechanic what their preference is. It is like going to the doctor with an illness. The key influencer of the final treatment is definitely the doctor but even the patient can help understand the problem by explaining what they had in the past and what they prefer. It's equally important for both channels to merge together. That’s why we are doing end consumer campaigns where we engage these kind of groups. the marketing campaign for us is targeting multiple groups where channel partners and end users and consumers are there.
There is no formal training as such for mechanics and garages who are your key target audience. How has Total tried to impart training to them?
What we have been doing with the Total Quartz campaign (Total Quartz is the car engine oil) is that we selected 1,500 mechanics from Delhi and after the preselection process we selected the top 100 from that number. We held a symposium and a meeting together with them where we tried to help them with their daily lives and their daily challenges. We also touched upon how they can approach or how they have to build up product knowledge and knowledge of safety practices. We stress on the safety practices aspect as in our culture, here at Total, safety always comes first. The 'safety first' culture extends to the users of vehicles, too. In India there is a huge number of independent mechanics, and small or standalone garages. They are not formally trained in any way and are therefore susceptible to accidents in their workplace.For this reason we follow a very strict program, as the mechanic is also the key influencer in the sale of our product. It is clear that training, education, and safety approaches are the key vectors and the key drivers in our communication channel.
Going ahead what is Total’s strategy for when Indian roads are proliferated with EVs, given the rush towards it?
The demand is definitely growing towards electric vehicles in India. There are several initiatives for the adoption of EVs by 2030. But that is really a long time away. Right now we are absolutely focusing and concentrating on today's demands for the Indian market and so now we are responding to that.