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Published on: Feb. 26, 2023, 6:03 p.m.
BMW: Back with a bang
  • Pawah: holistic marketing approach

By S M Boothem with Akshaya M

The year 2022 has been a milestone in the history of BMW, as it completed 15 years in India and posted the best group sales and record-breaking numbers. The German carmaker has also aggressively introduced new models and upgraded its existing ones. Its new concept of connecting with customers through its ‘music and driving festival’ Joytown in three cities – Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore – has become a big success in India. Currently, BMW offers three brands – BMW luxury cars, Minis and Motorrad bikes.

The company has gone from strength to strength despite the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic, and posted growth of over 30 per cent in 2021. This figure rose to 35 per cent in 2022. Speaking about the action-packed year, Vikram Pawah, President of BMW Group India, stated: “We sold 11,981 cars (including Minis) and 7,282 bikes, and our total sales were in the 20,000 range. We offer a holistic marketing approach towards customer satisfaction, with new formats launched last year, including online sales and adoption of financial products offered by our sister company, all of which have contributed as key drivers leading to our growth. We have broken pre-Covid peaks as well and are out of the shadow of Covid. From a brand perspective, we will continue to grow because we are launching a great product line-up for 2023, with almost 70 per cent of our product line-up getting refreshed or being new in 2023. I don’t think any brand can say that.”

The entire automotive sector has faced several logistical difficulties over the past few years. Worldwide, there has also been the influence of adverse geopolitical situations such as the global recession and shutdowns in China. The demand for automobiles has seen a hike, while there have been restrictions on the supply chain side, including a shortage of semiconductors.

However, at the micro level, India’s economy is in good shape compared to the global automotive sector because the country has a robust domestic economy. Also, inflation projections in India are much better than the rest of the world. The projection is that in India, inflation will be lower in 2023 compared to 2022. Similarly, interest rates have gone up, but not in a dramatic way. These are good signs for the Indian economy.

Despite the impact from global trade, the BMW Group is still growing after Covid, and that confidence promises to negate any other factors. The company was able to successfully overcome all constraints and exceed its targets at the beginning of 2020. Internally as a brand, the products are being refreshed, and good value is being offered with these new products.

“I think that whether the industry grows or not, whether the economy grows dramatically or not; as long as a crash is avoided, we’ll continue to grow. We were able to navigate challenges and present a good double-digit, or at least a low double-digit, despite Covid and other challenges. Of course, without them, we might have even surpassed those numbers. That’s our aim for 2023, to realise a successful year and continue to grow in a solid way,” explains Pawah.

  • BMW is the number one premium bike manufacturer in the country

Variety of options

The company believes that it is not a single-dimensional one because it offers customers a choice. The strategy that BMW declared 5 years ago was that it would have every price-point option so that a customer may opt for either a petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid, or electric vehicle. As long as it can continue to offer this kind of variety in India, it will see substantial demand. The plug-in hybrid is not as well-liked right now because of the cost-versus-benefit factor, but the electric option is popular.

BMW prides itself on having the widest selection in the electric car range. It is the only company in India that offers 4 distinct products, not including variants and engine sizes. The hatchback, executive sedan, proper SUV, and limousine are the four distinct formats offered in India to cater to different segments of the market.

From the perspective of the electric vehicle range, BMW currently offers 4 electric cars. In terms of charging infrastructure, it has the most advanced fast-charging facilities available in 34 cities across the country. It also has a very good EV charging system available to its customers but offers charging facilities to owners of electric vehicles of all brands at a nominal rate. If EV sales increase, it will also participate with other players in the charging network. BMW already has 84 dealer touchpoints for all 3 brands and plans to increase this to 90 by the end of the year.

The X1 is the car that attracts people to the BMW brand as it caters to a younger customer base. One-third of this customer base is between the ages of 21 and 40. Additionally, 57 per cent of people who buy the X1 are first-time buyers, and BMW is addressing the needs of these individuals, who look beyond power ratios. They invest in a product with comfort, space, luxury, and technological features inside, and they want the product to be suitable for their families and themselves.

Typically, people in India prefer SUVs due to the conditions here, and the X1 is quite versatile in any environment. Importantly, BMW has launched this product with an attainability offer instead of taking a standard loan or cash down payment. Customers can choose to pay only a certain amount for a certain period. In this kind of uncertain environment, this offer gives great peace of mind to a customer who knows that after 3 years, they have the option to either return the car without any penalty or continue ownership by paying something.

Describing BMW’s Motorrad, Pawah says: “We have had two launches of great bikes this year. Five years ago, when we set up BMW Motorrad, we posted sales of 235 units in the first year and last year we pushed 7,000-plus units. We are proud to say that 90 per cent of the bikes are locally produced, made in India, for India and the world. We are also the number one premium bike manufacturer in the country and one of the top ten in the world.”

  • From a brand perspective, we will continue to grow because we are launching a great product line-up for 2023, with almost 70 per cent of our product line-up getting refreshed or being new in 2023. I don’t think any brand can say that

Bringing Joy to India

BMW Group India successfully concluded their music and driving festival, ‘Joytown’, in three cities - Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru 

To celebrate the carmaker’s presence in India, BMW brought a completely new concept, ‘Joytown’, which was a huge hit with a massive response from the audience. It was the first time such an event took place in India. BMW is well-known for its variety of programs engaging customers in many activities, such as the Golf Cup India and BMW Drives.

The company had been working on the Joytown concept for some time to curate an event where people come and celebrate the BMW brand. The event combined the expression of joy with great music, food, company, and wine, and was more about customer engagement than an auto show or brand show.

More than 10,000 visitors attended the Delhi and Mumbai events, and on the final day, BMW invited well-known musicians, bands, and DJs from across the country to perform. The event was a great success for BMW in India, and due to the huge response, the carmaker wants to make it an annual feature.

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