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Tata Motors Marketing Entry Into The UK Car Market

Steve M Jones

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Despite the global tendency for the significant fall of car sales there are certain car segments which experience dynamic growth. According to Datamonitor (2006b) the sales of commercial vehicles and port utility vehicles were very healthy. Windecker (2005) stresses the influence of socio-cultural forces which formed the increased preferences towards more fashionable, sport-type, SUV equipped cars. The extremely high growth of SUVs was identified in US and UK. The focus of Tata’s market entry will be UK. There were several reasons for selecting UK as the target market. These favourable factors were the status of India as the favourable economic agent, UK Car market dynamics and potential, language similarity. The other countries which were considered as potentially attractive were: the USA – the largest market size in the world, Russia – emerging market with significant sales potential. The option of the USA as target market was declined due to extremely high quality requirements and other non-tariff barriers which make it hard for a new entrant to enter this market. Besides, this market is highly mature and experiences extreme level of competitive pressure. With regards to Russia, there were several unfavourable factors which made it less attractive then the UK – the uncertainty of the further economic state, high entry barriers and no well—developed dealership network.

Analysis of External Environment of the UK market

There are numerous number of factors that might be included into P. E. S. T. analysis. But due to various limitations (time, word limit), the factors will be outlined, whereas the major focus will be made on several sub-factors only (according to the Pareto Principle, it is likely that about 20% of the factors will represent 80% of the potential effect on the business (Wit & Meyer, 1998).

Political factors

Political and legal factors play the role on the development of the industry. These factors shape the rules of competition, operational costs and supply chain requirements.

Oil prices resulting from international instability - The special attention shall be given to oil prices and its affect on the market requirement. According to Mintel (2006) the increase of oil prices has created a strong tendency towards small engines, hybrid engines and diesel engines. Current high level of oil price increase the strain on the sales of luxury and premium cars, the majority of which are equipped with large-size engines (more then two litres).

Administrative barriers (quality controls and operations requirements) (KPMG, 2004) - Administrative barriers need to be seriously concerned as various requirements for safety standards and emission level might increase the costs of production and reduce the operating profit margin. Car parc legislation - According to Mintel (2006) the UK experience the threat of high overcapacity with the excessive traffic load of road networks. The political relationships between countries of operations (regimes of favourability/protectionism) (Hill, 2002) – India cooperates with the UK within the regime of favourability which implies the certain benefits as reduced tariff and non-tariff barriers. The foreign ownership regulations (The market expansion mode (Hill, 2002) – At the present time the UK is considered as one of the most pro-FDI country in EU. The large number of industries, including automotive one, are deregulated. It means that foreign regulation provides foreign companies with flexibility of choosing between all possible entry and expansion modes.

Economic factors

One of the major location choice determinants is the current and future demand conditions as they will affect the market growth potential, pricing strategy and operations margin and the potential of the return on investment. The target market size – According to Mintel (2006) since 2001 there has been a steady market growth by size and value. The current UK car parc is estimated to accommodate 31 million units. The market value was contributed by the steady growth of average price level. The present market value is estimated to reach the level of £31 billion. The maturity of the target market - The UK market is viewed (Mintel, 2006) as highly mature. The current maturity causes overcapacity issue and significant sales fall of particular car segments.

The growth potential of the target market – The overall UK market experiences negative growth due to the maturity issue. Nevertheless, certain the sales of certain car segments have significant growth potential due to the impact of socio-cultural and technological factors.

PDI - According to Mintel (2006) the strong growth of GDP (10% between 1998-2005), personal disposable income (PDI) (19%) and consumer expenditures (18%) reflect the high level of consumer confidence. Mintel (2006) claims that in terms of the purchase of new cars consumer confidence has significantly fallen. By the present moment UK consumers have been reluctant to take out new debt and instead are choosing to service their existing debt. Additionally the levels of mortgage equity withdrawal have declined, what indicates that UK consumers do not seek alternative funds to buy expensive items like cars. Currency stability - The current strong state of British pound against other currencies have created various benefits for manufacturers consumers operating in pound zone such as predictability of operations and minimised currency fluctuation risk. Labour costs - As the outlook of the automotive industry highlighted, the cost factor and the capability of direct and indirect costs becomes one of the key issues in maintaining competitive advantage. According to the opinion of the industry specialists (KPMG, 2004), one of the key issues that will influence the operations location decision will be labour-specific costs. According to survey (KPMG, 2004) industry specialists put a major emphasis on the labour-specific cost saving. Moreover, 85 % of the respondents agreed that during coming five years there will be a major increase of labour specific costs (cost of pensions, health care, and legal services) in US and EU. The expansion of existing political and economic blocs (EU) – The importance of the recent further expansion of EU is in the enlargement of the EU as single market. In case of successful expansion on the UK market, Tata might consider the further expansion in certain EU countries. According to estimations of Nieuwenhuis & Wells (2003) the attractiveness of EU as the target market for a car manufacturer will remain high. They claim that the attractiveness of EU as a target market will be maintained by the increase of its market size and value as the outcome of the extension of EU zone. However the current maturity of the market, excessive completion and demand trend suggests that the share of Europe will drop.

Social factors

Demographic factors – Demographic factor is one of the key social factors. It affects lifestyle, consumer trends, the type of risk aversive behaviour, spending power and value per customer. The state of demographic trends allows building projections for the use of particular type of products. The current UK demographics have undermined the sales of family cars.

Lifestyles – The change of lifestyles and habits have a direct impact on the consumer expenditures. For instance, Mintel (2006) points out the recent increase of preferences for second car ownership. Mintel (2006) adds that the impact of lifestyle factors such as fashionability and luxury preferences are so strong that it removes the negative effect of market maturity and oil prices in certain car segments. Thus, against all odds, SUVs and luxury cars experience healthy growth, whereas the sales in other car segments have fallen dramatically.

Technological factors

The development of information technologies - The current development of Internet opens new transactional capabilities. Currimbhoy (2004) suggests that continuous development of technological solutions, especially in the area of digital and communication technologies create new operating opportunities such as new marketing mix channels, new purchase environment (e-commerce) and new market research tools. According to Mintel (2006) the number of leading car distributors develop e-commerce to counter the problem of overcapacity.

The impact of new technologies on supply chain architecture – The development of e-exchange channels between supply chain agents becomes the source of strategic advantage (Currimbhoy, 2004) as it creates the ability of fast market response and better value chain quality control.

The review of micro factors affecting UK car business

Competitors’ bargaining power

The UK automotive market is highly consolidated. The major rivalry involves Ford, GM (Vauxhall), VW, Renault, Peugeot, Toyota, BMW, Citroen and Honda. The presence of powerful competitors with established brands create a threat of intense price wars and poses s strong requirement for product differentiation. According to Mintel (2006) the tough competitive pressure require increasing promotional costs, overcapacity introduces a significant price pressure. The present market conditions are so tough, that certain manufacturers had to close certain plants to cut the costs and survive on the market. At the moment, the major competitive strategies are supply chain improvement, new product development and serving the needs of emerging market segments (Mintel, 2006). The emerging opportunities requires the extremely high level of operational responsiveness and leaves little space till market opportunity will be leveraged by competitors.

Buyers’ bargaining power

Due to high intensity of competition on the global scale and increasing overcapacity issue UK buyers experience very strong bargaining power. According to Mintel (2006) buyers have indicated a high level of bargain-seeking behaviour.

Suppliers’ bargaining power

Though vehicle manufactures have consolidated forming large entities it did not make a significant shift of bargaining power in OEM-suppliers relations. According to Veloso & Kumar (2002) the consolidation in the OEM sector has triggered the corresponding consolidation of different supplier groups. Demand chain partners, car dealers, especially the large ones do experience large bargaining power in the light of the overcapacity issue.

The threat of Substitutes

Apart from direct competitors (public transport) cars compete with other transport services: air, rail and sea. The increasing importance of door-to-door transportation and environmental concerns decrease the current threat of other transportation means as substitutes. One of the major sources of substitute threat comes from the sales of second-hand cars. According to Mintel (2006) the steady accumulation of second-hand cars has become on of the major reasons of the dramatic fall of the sales of new cars.

Threat of New entrants

The high level of entry barriers (extremely consolidated industry, well-developed value-added chain, R&D capability, investment capability in promotions and new product development) minimises the threat of new entrants. Nevertheless, due to globalised nature of the industry the notion of new entrant is not that clear-cut, since existing players might enter new geographical markets. Datamonitor (2006) stresses the future potential of Chinese manufacturers to flood EU markets in case protectionist measures are not introduced by EU countries.

SWOT analysis

Assessing the external and internal environmental factors, the following picture can be drawn:


• Strong revenue growth – According to company’s annual report (Tata Motors, 2006) the company registered strong operational growth of 32,5%, whereas the revenues from the international operations grew by 149%.

• Diversified product portfolio – Company operates in different market segments including passenger cars, trucks, medium and heavy commercial vehicles, light commercial vehicles, utility vehicles and buses.


• High dependence on Indian market - over 80% of the company’s revenue stems from sales on Indian market.


• The further expansion on the EU market;

• The increase of global presence in SUV segment;


• Further increase of competitive pressure on Indian market - At the moment the Indian market is already shared between such strong competitors as GM, Ford, Toyota, VW and Honda. These companies are expected (Datamonitor, 2006a) to increase their presence through licensing agreements, wholly owned subsidiaries and joint ventures. Datamonitor (2006a) envisage additional threat stemming from local automotive firms provided that they gain access to debt and equity financing.

• Overall problem of liquidity – As the case study highlighted, Tata Group allocates significant investment flows in IT sector. The failure of this capital to be returned might put financial pressure on all business areas, including Tata Motors.

• Slow pace of market entry – Due to the high competitive pressure of UK market, the market window for Tata Motors entry is narrow. The slow pace of entry and wrong timing decision might undermine the company’s success on this market.

Key success factors

In terms of the overall successful performance of the Tata Motors , the analysis of environmental and internal factors study identified the following integral elements:

• Fast entry on UK market;

• Implementation of strategies designed to protect company’s share on Indian market;

Defensive measures on Indian market

To protect its market share against the aggressive expansion of competitors the company needs to implement defensive strategy. According to Veloso & Kumar (2002) one of the strongest available tools is the increase of the customer loyalty by offering value-added benefits such as affordable price, attractive credit conditions, post-purchase service. Veloso & Kumar (2002) note that car maintenance might account for up 70% of the overall car’s lifetime value. The company should develop its service centres network to maximise its geographical coverage and pre-empt the entry of competitors.

Marketing strategy

Market entry choice

To maximize the speed of entry and minimize the risk of failure, Tata Motors should choose the entry mode which provides the fast access to customers. At the same time, the entry mode shall secure certain long-term benefits like access to market knowledge and the development of firm’s presence on the new market. Given these requirements contractual joint venture was chosen as the optimal entry mode. Unlike, wholly owned subsidiary it requires much less investment in operational launch (Hill, 2002). Additionally, this mode of operations provides a fast access to the facilities and customer of contractual partner. The other advantage of this mode of market entry is that it limits the possibility of technology or knowledge transfer.

Marketing mix


Product advantage is the outcome of the new product development process comprising the degree of unique benefits not previously available, the extent to which customer needs are better satisfied, the product's relative quality and innovativeness, and the extent to which the new product solves customer problems better (Craig & Hart, 1992). The product advantage is a key differentiator between success and failure in the development of new products and services alike. In order to hit the market the company have manufactured the model X1 which is environmentally friendly mini- sport utility vehicle with 5 speed automatic transmission and 140 HP 1,8L hybrid engine with relatively low fuel consumption[1]. The company needs to emphasize the order-winning qualities of the product to potential customers. The decision of entering SUV segment was determined by the growth dynamics of this segment during 2003-2005 - 10%. The product will be designed to meet the quality preferences of the following customer segments: fashion oriented individuals, 25-45 years old, who look for affordable sport type utility vehicle. One of the essential aspects of Product mix will be the development of post-purchase service. The company will seek to develop contractual relationships with different car service networks like independent garages, specialist fast-fit chains, mobile servicing and tuning services and autocentres. The development of strong relationship with Kwik-Fit, Finelist and Halfords will increase product attractiveness in terms of availability and accessibility of service facilities.


The Mintel (2006) research indicates the relative importance of price issue, especially for customers who seek to own a second car. The chosen pricing strategy will seek to attract potential customers buy affordable price – £10 000. This price is 2,995 lower then the price of one of the best-selling cars - Daihatsu's Terios. The aspect of pricing is related to the cost of service and car accessories. The major focus will be to minimize the servicing costs by concluding conditional agreements with service partners and providing them with low-cost quality accessories and spare parts.


Distribution is crucial in the eventual acceptance and sales of a new product in the market as it governs the availability of the new product to customers (Calantone & Montoya-Weiss, 1993). It goes without saying that the distribution channels chosen must reflect the target market's buying behavior and allow for maximum availability to the target market. The distribution channels chosen may reinforce or dilute the intended message of the product's positioning in the marketplace. To maximize the product availability Tata Motors will select the contractual partner with strong dealership network. Additionally, e-distribution strategy will be implemented to utilize the capacity of this distribution channel.


Promotion decisions encompass the range of communication and motivation instruments needed to raise awareness and precipitate purchase of the new product (Lilly & Walters (1997).

The Mintel (2006) study gives following options of possible advertising channels:

- TV;

- Print advertising;

- Internet Advertising

Mintel (2006) asserts that the ATL (above the line) spending account for the major share of all expenditures on promotional activities, whereas the share of TV advertising might exceed 50% of total cost. KPMG (2004) notes that promotional budget usually comprises 1%-2% of the expected sales. Provided that the initial target for Tata Motors is to sell 25 000 units in the first year of operations, the marketing budget will be £3 750 000[2]. Additionally, the similar contribution will be expected from the contractual partner of Tata Motors. 50% of marketing budget will be allocated to TV advertisings, 25% - promotional activities in Car and Life style Magazines. 25% - will allocated for point of sales promotions, events and co-marketing activities. To increase the level of coverage the company will look for partnerships that can strengthen its promotional appeal.


The paper suggested that Tata Motors should enter the UK market. This country was chosen due to the presence of the number of favorable business and environmental factors such as economic stability, relatively medium entry barriers, positive growth of certain car market segments and the future growth potential within EU whereas the UK might be used as expansion base. The analysis of business factors indicated the importance of choosing fast mode of entry and the development of contractual relationships with UK operating market agents. To address this issue the paper suggested that the company should use contractual joint venture as the mode of UK market entry. This strategic option will provide Tata Motors with fast market penetration, access to market knowledge and reduced financial strain. At the same time, possible negative aspects of this choice should be counterbalanced. The analysis of internal factors revealed that the company’s performance is strongly dependent on the success of operations in Indian market, which might be undermined with the further increase of competitive pressure. To strengthen its position against aggressive tactics of competitors Tata Motors is suggested to focus on building customer relationships and employ marketing tools designed to increase the level of customer loyalty. On the basis of the analysis of current market dynamics Tata Motors is advised to enter the market with SUV model, designed for sport type oriented individuals, who look for a relatively cheap, environmentally friendly, high quality car. The price will be one of the attractive factors, especially for price-sensitive individuals. The company will launch advertising campaign designed to create awareness about car, communicate its advantages and persuade customers to buy it. As for the Place Mix, the company will seek to cooperate with various car dealers and will develop e-commerce facilities to maximize the product availability.


Calantone, R. G. and Montoya-Weiss, M. M. (1993), Product launch and follow on, in Souder, W. E. , Sherman, J. D. (1993) Managing New Technology Development, pp. 217-48.

Craig, A. & Hart, S. (1992), Where to now in new product development research?, European Journal of Marketing, vol. 26, iss. 11, pp. 1-49.

Currimbhoy, Z. (2004), The Outlook for E-Business in the Automotive Industry, Reuters Business Insight – Strategic management reports

Datamonitor (2006a) Tata Motors: company profile, Datamonitor, 17.07

Datamonitor (2006b), Global Automotive industry, Datamonitor, 01.10

Hill, C. (2002), International business : competing in the global marketplace , 4th edn.

KPMG (2004) KPMG’s Automotive Industry Survey, Momentum in the Automotive Industry

Lilly, B. & Walters, R. (1997) Towards a model of new product preannouncement timing, Journal of Product Innovation Management, vol. 14, pp. 4-20

Mintel (2006) Cars - UK , Mintel Group, October.

Nieuwenhuis, P. & Wells, P. E. (2003), The Automotive Industry and the Environment : A Technical, Business and Social Future, Cambridge: Woodhead Publishing

Tata Motors (2006), Annual report, Tata Motors

Veloso, F. & Kumar, R. (2002), The Automotive Supply Chain: Global Trends and Asian Perspectives , Asian Development Bank, ERD Working Paper No. 3

Windecker, R. (2005), Upsize and Upscale Lead the Way, Automotive Industries, June, Vol. 184, Issue 6, p. 18

Wit, B. and Meyer, R. (1998), Strategy: process, content, context: an international perspective, 2nd edn. , London : International Thomson Business

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