The case focuses on positioning a new brand, the Tata Nano. The car has been widely publicized as the world's cheapest car at Rs.1 lakh. Students must consider the gap between the ultimate target, the huge emerging middle class of Indian consumers, and the limited capacity and distribution available in choosing a target. They also must select between alternative competitive frames and the various points of difference they highlight. The case unfolds in two stages. The first decision point is in 2009, at the launch of the time of the product launch. The second decision point is 18 months later, after production capacity has increased and some product safety issues have arisen Learning Objective
The primary goal of the case is to illustrate the choices made in developing a strong brand positioning and the interrelationship between these choices. Students select a target and an appropriate competitive frame of reference and point of difference for that target and summarize these elements in a positioning statement. The case also highlights importance of making promotion and distribution decisions that are consistent with the positioning.
Learning from Tata's Nano Mistakes
It's been a rough season for Tata Motors' much-publicized "people's car," the Nano. In November, while overall auto sales in India's booming economy rose more than 22%, Tata sold only 509 Nanos, down precipitously from the 9,000 it sold the previous July, news that's been trumpeted in disparaging headlines from New York to Sydney. There are no shortages of reasons for the Nano's poor showing: production delays, fires, the stigma attached to buying a "cheap" car. But the real problem is not with the car; it's with the hype surrounding it that tied Tata's hands. Setting (or encouraging) high pre-launch expectations limits your ability to perfect your business model post-launch. But, as my co-authors and I discuss this month in HBR, this flexibility is essential to emerging-market innovation...
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