Inside: How Kia Motors India marketed their new car during a pandemic

Kia Motors India- #SonetTheBeast campaign

For the launch of its latest SUV, Kia Motors India launched #SonetTheBeast a sci-fi storytelling campaign tailored for the youth. Manohar Bhat from Kia Motors takes us behind the scenes.

Kia Motors is on the process of launching Kia Sonet, a brand positioned on the lines of ‘Wild by Design’. To promote the SUV among the youth the brand rolled out #SonetTheBeast – a storytelling campaign with a sci-fi theme of a fictional alien invasion set in 2150.

Manohar Bhat, Head of Sales & Marketing, Kia Motors India, takes us behind the efforts & ideation for #SonetTheBeast, the brand’s marketing and communication strategy in India, and the future of the automobile industry.

Objective & Rationale

Kia Motors India designed an SNS creative communication plan titled ‘#SonetTheBeast’ to engage with the young tech-driven, ‘Gen Z’ who also hold a common passion for gaming and science fiction.

In the digital storyline, the character named ‘The Beast’ is seen portraying the features of Kia Sonet who is brave and out there to defend its human friends against the alien invasion. He adds, “This social campaign has helped us engage with our new-age target audience and create curiosity for our products among consumers.”

Marketing Strategy

Kia Motors India has taken a PHYGITAL approach. The brand also concedes that they will continue to experiment with content as a crucial tactic for its marketing strategy to connect with new-age consumers in a quirky manner.

Further, as per the brand, their customer remains value-conscious and is always looking for unique and innovative products. “Our major TG being the youth, we have been very particular in identifying the right channels to communicate with them.”

As a part of this campaign, the brand collaborated with an influencer, Aakash Gupta, for an unconventional uncaging of Sonet in ‘Aakash vs Wild’. The campaign garnered 12 Mn combined views on social media with an average view time of almost 2 minute, shared the brand spokesperson.

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Digitization in the New Normal

The brand invested in the digitalization of the sales process at the beginning of their journey in the country. With the ongoing pandemic, the relevance of the medium only increases. “Our consumers were able to check & buy our products with the help of our end-to-end online sales processes,” shares Bhat.

Pointing towards brighter hues, the brand believes that the demand for vehicles will continue to rise in the festive season to further boost purchase interest among customers.

Festive Marketing & Beyond

Based on the current global trends, the brand recognises a shift towards personal vehicles, entry-level models, and variants, as people are trying to avoid public transports or app-based services to maintain social distancing. Automakers are realizing the opportunity and are offering customers more affordable options in the entry-level segment.

Additionally, he shares that they are in the beginning of the festive season, which is considered as the ‘thirteenth month’ of sales. “The festive season has always been a very important time across industries, as the consumer sentiment during this time is generally very positive. Especially in the automotive industry, we witness a more than usual surge in demand during this time”. Therefore, the current festive phase and the growing consumer sentiment is increasing hopes for automakers.

With changing times, Bhat shares that automakers must also take into consideration the rapid growth of online queries for cars. “Customers today want to avail of a physically contactless experience even when buying a car. In a post-COVID world, this will prevail and brands have to adapt to this need of customers”, adds Bhat

However, the car buying process is complex and requires human intervention. The touch and feel of the car plays a pivotal role in the final decision-making. “In the recent future, we will see this new trend gaining more interest in the auto industry”, highlights Bhat.

Automakers have to adapt a PHYGITAL approach to connect and convince buyers to opt for their brands, he concludes.