By : RACHNA TYAGI
Volkswagen recently unveiled the new Tiguan and the brand-new Taigun. Who are these new SUVWs being targeted at, how will they be priced, what are the new changes that VW has brought about in its style of functioning, these were some of the questions that we were seeking answers to. Excerpts from the interview with Ashish Gupta, Brand Director, VW India.
TOS: Tell us about VW’s Sarvottam 2.0.
AG: The whole thinking is that with the product, the customer is not only buying a product, but an experience around the brand, and so we realized that if we’re bringing in a revolutionary or a new product into the market, we also need to look at what our customer experience is, and transform that as well. Be more contemporary, more vibrant in the customer experience and more importantly, more accessible to the customers, in how we deal with them, how we share information with them, and how we make our people more open to conversations of the new age. That was the whole thought behind Sarvottam 2.0.
When we started conceiving the customer experience, that’s where Sarvottam 2.0 fit in. It brings together the visual cues which we are implementing to our new brand design in our dealerships and our digital platforms. It talks about the experience part of it, both on the digital and on the physical front. Let me take the digital part first, it is about enabling customers interactions with us using digital technology and having a hassle-free, contactless experience, besides making more information available to customers once they have bought the car. Contactless, of course, got accelerated due to the lockdown and it was the right time to do it. We have enabled what is called a a ‘Service Camp’ feature wherein our service advisor and technician take a video of the car and it goes to the customer. The customer can take a look at the video online and then confirm whether that job needs to be carried out. So, these are the kind of features that make the whole experience more accessible to them. That’s on the digital front. On the experience part with the people, what we also felt was that if we have to go more contemporary, how are people at the front end? How people interact at dealerships is also something that needs to evolve with the times. So, on the people front also we’re implementing our new brand design so our look and feel in terms of uniforms is going to change, then there is an upskilling that is happening across the network, in terms of what kind of information is our customer looking for. Is the traditional sales pitch relevant anymore? 90% of the information is already known to customers so how do you engage with them? How do you make that experience from the digital space to when he walks into the showroom seamless? That’s the whole upskilling we’re doing with our frontline guys both on the sales and service part. All these measures and I think there are more than 40 individual work streams that we’re working on to enable this whole experience. This is Sarvottam 2.0.
TOS: What is VW’s new brand design all about?
AG: Four years back, whenever you visited Volkswagen, it was a quintessential German kind of outlook, white blue and grey. So, what we felt was since we’re moving into an era of new mobility, we needed to get the brand refreshed and in line with where the trends are going. You have a younger audience coming into the market, you have people whose language, how they converse and engage is different, and somehow, it was felt that at a global level we are a little far away from the contemporary things that people are looking for. That’s when the new brand design and the language that we speak came into being. It involved a a visual change in the colours we used, it involved inclusiveness, a female voice to when you hear “Volkswagen,” we switched to a female voice to convey a feeling of inclusiveness. These are the cues we wanted to get into to make it more contemporary. The design logo is also 2D which is very much suited to the digital world.
TOS: After Dieselgate was it a conscious decision to make these changes?
AG: These changes were already being planned out. Needless to say, the Dieselgate, if we call it that, made us look further inwards. We need to change and if we need to change how do we also visually communicate it? We are looking at ourselves and trying to make a conscious change, that’s how I would like to classify it. It was a learning phase for all of us, it was something that the company has learnt from and has really made changes.
TOS: How will the brand-new Taigun distinguish itself from competition?
AG: I think, its distinguishing factor is the design itself, which is very refreshing but in a very unique Volkswagen way. If you see this car after ten years, you will still feel this car is young. The design is timeless. That’s what our brand stands for. If you look closely, you will also see that it is customized for Indian tastes. Look at the chrome elements, that’s a style statement. That is a bold statement that Volkswagen is making about wanting to be relevant and contemporary for the Indian consumer as well. If you look at the rear lights – fabulous. So, these are the things on the exterior which actually get you hooked to the brand, which very clearly differentiate itself from other products out there. Then you get inside the car and shut the door, you get the feeling that it is solid. When you sit on the seat, it is nicely cushioned and when you hold the steering wheel you feel that exhilaration, the finesse and the exactness of design it gives you that feeling of being in a secure cabin in a perfect place. Besides, the cabin has contemporary elements such as the digital cockpit that is a unique factor for us and it is really attractive. The mood lighting inside the car, the firmness of the seats, how they envelope your body, I think it is all true to Volkswagen. You have to sit in a Volkswagen to understand what it is.
TOS: The SUVWs here are sporting some really vibrant colours. Any more new colours that will be introduced?
AG: Besides, the ‘Kurkuma Yellow’ and ‘Turmeric Yellow,’ there are a host of colours planned. Six-seven colour options –traditional colours as well as some vibrant ones too.
TOS: The new Tiguan is here too. Tell us more about it.
AG: It is a true-blue Volkswagen, a global product which is loved. The latest 2020-21 Tiguan has already been launched in Europe and along with the T-ROC, this is one of the best sellers in its segment. Very different, upscale technologies now with IQ light system which you would only get in the luxury segment earlier and which has now come down to the Tiguan as well. Looks very different form the earlier Tiguan at least from the front. Side profile, I would say stays more or less the same as the previous one, rear also is differentiated with the new bumper with the integrated exhaust. In the interiors, it comes loaded with every feature that you can think of.
TOS: What kind of customers are you targeting with the brand-new Taigun and the new Tiguan?
AG: The Taigun is more for people who’re trying to do different things in life, balancing out the different pressures that all of us have. It is for people who’re mobile, who’re always running and who want that kind of energy in their life. “I want to do something different; I want to be in my space where I feel I have an individual and personalized feeling. The power underneath my feet, the energy behind me,” these are the kind of people who’re looking to do things differently and that’s the communication. Nobody stops anybody from buying this SUVW and I’m sure people from different age groups and demographics will buy it but that’s how we see it purely from the communication point of view, keeping the customer in mind.
The Tiguan, however, is for the more mature, people who have achieved something in life, who are looking at more stability, who are looking for more elegance, who are looking at making that understated statement, those are the kind of people, I think, that the Tiguan will attract.
TOS: Pricing is crucial for your SUVWs especially with so much competition. How do you plan to tackle that?
AG: Our whole endeavour is to make our brand more ‘accessible’ and when I say ‘accessible,’ it also means right price points. Having said that, it is also important for us to stick to our positioning of being premium in the volume segment, and we’ll stay true to that. That is our positioning and that is why customers love us and they expect value from that premium-ness. If we move away from that positioning, I think we will be doing a disservice to the brand. So, definitely, we will be accessible because that is our philosophy in coming up with these great products.