Opinion: Role of PR in automobile marketing during a pandemic

Anindita Gupta, Co-Founder, Scenic Communication shares her views on how effective marketing and PR can help Indian automobile brands leverage the current market scenario through innovation, education, and virtual experience.

The global automobile industry is going through a big transition, thanks to the tremendous amount of innovation and disruption brought by both bigger and smaller brands. Four trends that are being currently witnessed and are leading this disruption are — electrification, shared mobility, connectivity, and autonomous driving. Due to these trends, there is expected to be a big shift in the global automobile market. Marketing plays an important role here.

The auto industry in India is starting to experience the ripples of these global disruptions while also coming up with a few innovations on the home turf as well. With a focus on greener solutions and incorporating smarter tech-enabled innovations to transportation, the Indian government has pushed for the Electrification of the auto sector, as announced in the recent budget, along with a goal to achieve a high level of penetration in e-mobility by 2030.

A number of tech start-ups and innovators working in the EV sector are already working tirelessly to design new solutions for effective EV’s across segments – from bikes and cars to even smaller personal mobility solutions, adding up to India’s busy and fast-changing automobile development. The Indian EV Industry had been in its nascent stages with a few of our own electric car manufacturers, 2 Wheelers, and OEM’s in Electric buses. With the global markets also warming up towards disruptive automobile and transport solutions, it’s the perfect time for Indian automobile manufacturers – both innovators and traditional brands, to lead conversations in the area and leverage the momentum to garner visibility, on the international and national platforms.

Key areas where effective PR can be an enabler of automobile marketing, include:

  1. Educating the audience: Like all innovations that need to be effectively communicated to be understood, EV’s and the new age auto disruption too requires an educative approach to communication. Although EVs and autonomous vehicles are not completely unknown, conversations about them revolve mainly around how beneficial they are for the environment and how they can help reduce pollution, etc. However, vital features and benefits, that are important for a customer to make an informed decision, remain unclear or even misunderstood. Educating consumers about relevant features, innovations, and holistic benefits of the product, that can make their commute smarter/ comfortable/ safe, and more economical, while also benefiting the environment, can go a long way in changing some common prejudices about the price, the average speed, ease of charging, etc., about the new vehicle.    
  2. Building Credibility: Like education and awareness, new innovations also need to be trusted. Leveraging effective communication, auto brands can help build trust in their new products and innovation while also creating positive and sustained visibility for the brand. Given the international market trends, where several big and established players are partnering or investing in smaller but disruptive innovators, building brand credibility becomes a crucial aspect when one is vying for market share and positive stakeholder and consumer attention.
  3. Attracting investors/ partners: Leveraging PR, auto brands can get a step further, to reach out to and attract potential investors/ business partners, to further grow and expand. After effective brand visibility, credibility, and informative approach to communications, auto brands can help build a strong and compelling portfolio to showcase, when reaching out to potential national and international partners, or even when seeking investors for funding, as positive and sustained brand visibility helps stakeholders gain trust, insights, and understanding of the brand and the people behind the product – important factors when one is investing in long term mutual growth partnerships.
  4. Ease of doing business: Combining all of the above factors, effective communication can significantly improve the ease of doing business for several new and established auto innovators. From partnerships, funding, and trust of internal stakeholders to ease of acquiring manufacturing land, policy approvals, support of local governing bodies and an overall favorable business ecosystem can be created.

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In the era of accelerated technology enablement, innovation, and fast-shrinking global markets, automobile marketing combined with PR and effective communications can help auto brands to not only grow and disrupt the segment, but also help them sustain the growth by staying relevant, and retain a top-of-mind recall, in spite of fierce competition. 

This piece is authored by Anindita Gupta, Co-Founder, Scenic Communication.

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