Tata Motors undergoes a 'she' change

Tata Motors, India's largest automobile company, is undergoing a slow but steady transformation in its cars to woo more women customers.

As the company spokesperson said: "Gears are finally shifting in the automotive marketing world's attitude towards women, showcasing that women represent a huge opportunity for this industry".

Tata cars, which have been largely dubbed as taxis, and heavy cars, have not found much favour with women drivers. However, the company started noticing the change in the customer profile from the Nano. "We started noticing the change in the customer profile from Nano. In FY11, 14 per cent of the owners of Nano cars were women whereas that number has jumped to 23 per cent in FY16 with the introduction of GenX Nano," said the spokesperson. Currently, women customers account for 17 per cent of Tata Motors' total customer base in the passenger cars market.

The company feels that this is primarily because the GenX Nano had features like automated manual transmission (AMT), power steering, amphistream music system and colour themes which attracted the female customers.

In fact a Frost & Sullivan titled 'Women in Cars - A Mega Trend for the Automotive Industry' found out that women prefer small and more manoeuverable vehicles, but they also give importance to design, spaciousness, safety, quality of materials, colour and sustainability.

Abdul Majeed, partner PwC India highlighted the same. "Women prefer what one can call smart city cars, that have driving comfort. Any company which wants to strike a chord with the female customer base has to focus on improving the 'ease of driving' as well as increase the style quotient of the car," he said.

Women are increasingly emerging as an important segment as car buyers globally. The Frost and Sullivan study released in 2014 had found that in the USA female driving licence holders have tipped the balance at 51 per cent. And this not just among the younger age groups, but consistently across all ages greater than 25. Canada and the UK are set to follow by 2016.

In fact, it has been noticed that cars like the Land Rover Evoque, which is endorsed by a woman celebrity Victoria Beckham has more women customers to men. The Fiat 500, a small, cute looking easy to drive car too is popular amongst women.

Tata Motors has thus consistently worked towards increasing its women customers, be it partnering with Bharatiya Mahila Bank to enable easy car financing for women customers or special initiatives to target this set of customer base. The spokesperson added, "Women buyers give importance to the openable hatch, advanced structural stability and amphistream music system in the GenX Nano. Our new cars like the Zest, Bolt also have also found great acceptance amongst female audiences."

In the new Tiago, a compact hatch, a segment popular with women, the company thus took care to create 22 intelligent utility spaces that women will like. "Attention to detail, the boot space has been crafted well with hooks provided for women to hang their shopping bags as per weights, marked on them. The car comes with two new engines and offers multi-drive mode, which is first-in-segment. All these features will help us further increase our women customers," the spokesperson added.

In its attempt to reach out to female customers, the company started using famous characters of Star Plus, who have a high women following in TVCs to invite viewers to come and test drive the new Zest. The campaign helped the company to reach out to about 9.2 million women viewers of Star Plus.

"Placing advertorials in lifestyle magazines with high female readership like Cosmopolitan, Grazia, Femina and the Elle magazine, was another creative strategy to capture and create awareness amongst the female community. The company has also partnered with Cartoon Network leveraging their character Ben 10 as a strategy to target mothers," she said.

Going forward, Tata Motors is looking at initiating driver training programmes where the company will employ women drivers to train this segment of customers in driving.