BALENO is a luxurious, attractive car launched by Pak Suzuki in 1997. It is a good looking car whose features include CNG, spare parts that are easily available and are cheap, a remote control along with car keys which provides greater security, and ease and comfort. Other characteristics of this car is
• Target Market: The car targets middle class and upper middle class of Pakistan (i.e. those people who want a large moderately priced car). It is the same market to which Honda CITY targets.
• Pricing: The car is priced between Rs.760, 000 to Rs.790, 000 depending upon the model of the car. Again the prices of the car tell us that the car is competing with Honda CITY which almost same price (a little higher price).
• Promotion: The car has been promoted by Suzuki as a symbol of status.
• Distribution: Suzuki showrooms are present all over Pakistan therefore car is convenient to buy and is easily available.
BALENO: A SUCCESS OR FAILURE
For a casual observer BALENO maybe a success but a general survey told us that upper middle and middle class of Pakistan prefers to by Honda CITY over Suzuki BALENO. Many reasons were identified for this preference. When the car was first launched it had been very popular and people had many expectations from this car. But the car didn’t meet expectations of consumers and disappointed them. It had many problems in it namely:
• Front disc brakes were not working properly.
• Front suspension when car is speeding up.
• Front seats were very low and therefore consumers felt that the seats are uncomfortable and looked ugly.
• Cable noise in the car when the picks up greater speed (about 45 miles / sec).
• Problem of missing (the engine gets hot, the car doesn’t starts etc) when the car has run 5000 miles.
Because of these problems the car didn’t do well initially and the sales were low. Then Suzuki tried to change some features of the car namely the looks and brought in some new models of the which were popular as compared to its first model but the sales were still not as much as had been expected from it. The reason for this was that the car still carried some basic problems of the first car namely, low seats, suspension, missing and cable noise. Second reason why the car didn’t meet the required sales was the brand of Suzuki. For long Suzuki has been selling cars like FX, Mehran, Margala etc which have been sold to people of lower income bracket. Therefore Suzuki has earned an image of being public car and not as car that can be used by people of higher income brackets and as car that can be considered actually a symbol of status. Therefore although Suzuki promoted BALENO as a symbol of status people don’t think it actually is. Therefore, sales of BALENO didn’t boost up and it didn’t become popular. So although we are not saying that it is a complete failure but we are saying that it has not been successful.
WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE
After analyzing the results of the market survey we conducted, we can conclude that the sales of BALENO could have been increased by some modifications in the marketing mix. We propose slight changes in the marketing mix which are as follows:
Certain changes in BALENO can cause its sales to rise by a reasonable margin to meet the company’s sales target. Some of these changes are:
• SUZUKI should remove the problems of disc brakes, front suspension, engine missing and other technical problems in the car
• Seats and interior should be made more comfortable and customer-oriented i.e. seats should be a little higher and interior customized according to the customer preferences
• The shape of BALENO should be made more aero-dynamic to attract the customers e.g. multi-reflective and crystal lights should be made. Also the designs of the car should be changed frequently
• Diesel engine should be introduced because so far BALENO does not have a diesel vehicle in its product line
• Automatic transmission with diesel engine should be introduced as no other car manufacturer in Pakistan is providing this feature so it would add to the uniqueness of BALENO and will give it a competitive advantage.
At this moment, even though the target market of BALENO is middle and upper middle class, the price of BALENO is too high for its worth. Also the price bracket rivals to that of the HONDA CITY. Therefore anyone who is willing to buy a BALENO will prefer to buy CITY as it has the name of HONDA and it is more prestigious and is a symbol of status.
The rule of thumb states that “Price and Quantity sold are inversely related”. Following this rule of thumb and the above facts, it may be profitable for SUZUKI to reduce per unit car price to increase its overall sales volume. At the moment the price of BALENO is Rs.760,000 for JXR and Rs.790,000 for JXL. We propose that price of BALENO should be somewhere around the Rs.650,000 for JXR and Rs.680,000 for JXL(This price is feasible for the company). This would remove the psychological figure of Rs.700,000 of big cars which is a big factor in the minds of middle and upper-middle class people. History also tells us that when SUZUKI launched BALENO it was sold in large numbers as it was priced around Rs.550,000. However, technical problems in the car hindered the sales of the product. This would definitely affect the sales of BALENO. In the start it would seem that the company has decreased its profit margin but gradually the profits would attain stability.
Promotion of a product is very important factor in its sales. Some of the promotion strategies which PAK SUZUKI could have adopted for BALENO are:
• Differentiate the image of BALENO from SUZUKI as the name of SUZUKI is recognized for it small cars and in the market of big and prestigious cars it is relatively unknown
• Increase the warranty of spare parts from 1-year to 3-years as this would create a sense of reliability in the people
• Awareness should be created about the environmental friendliness of the car since CNG is pronounced as an environmental friendly fuel by the scientists all over Pakistan
• Awareness must be created about the cost-effectiveness of the car as its maintenance and fuel expenditures are low which is favorable for the low-income people
The distribution of BALENO is through the authorized dealers of PAK SUZUKI and designated show-rooms. The distribution network is quite efficient, however, the network should be expanded to make sure that the customers get the delivery on time, or even before that (as time is money), so that the customers are satisfied with the worth of the product.
Despite of the fact that BALENO lies somewhere between the absolute success and total failure lines, yet some changes can be made in the marketing strategies of this car, as proposed above, to achieve the pre-set goals of PAK SUZUKI in sales and profits. We are certain that if the proposed ideas are fully implemented, PAK SUZUKI can expect a high return on BALENO likewise other big-car manufacturers.