Car Clinics – New Vehicle Evaluation in Saudi Arabia
Business Practice- Innovation & Product Development, Quantitative, Central Location Research
The Client were planning on entering the highly competitive LCV category in the region with KSA being their primary focus. The KSA market is dominated by offerings from the major Japanese OEMs. The client’s offering was feature-loaded but did not originate from the known countries for LCVs posing a unique challenge to break into this segment. It was also a less established brand but fast growing in the passenger segment. The client needed to develop the offer to Go to Market, tweak the product to local tastes to the extent possible, all this keeping in mind the country of origin challenge.
We selected Buraidah as the location as this is where pickups are highly entrenched into the local culture and often the primary vehicle for daily work-related activities.
A static clinic was conducted, where we tested the client vehicle against three main competitors at a venue – the market leader and two less established models. This was a quantitative exercise and followed by FGDs among acceptors and rejectors of the vehicle to understand what’s working or not working in its favor. FGDs were done in the presence of the vehicles for easier identification of the product features that were being discussed. This was followed by a Dynamic Test of the vehicle on a pre-approved route to assess the vehicle performance under different driving conditions such as initial pick up, acceleration, deceleration, braking, turnaround and off road.
The vehicle performed on par with market leader on exteriors and interiors and was superior to the other, less established vehicle brands. In terms of specifications, while the vehicle torque and horsepower were comparable to the market leader and superior to other vehicles, the small turbo engine failed to enthuse audiences and it lacked credibility on its ability to perform better than competitors. Spares was a barrier given it was new entrant from a less established brand. The drive test appeared to have further strengthened the associations with weak performance. The vehicles luxury features and aggressive styling did find broad appeal and differentiated it from others
Our recommendation was despite the higher specs, to peg the product vs the # 2 brand in terms of product and price positioning, rather than take on the market leader head on. Offering a larger engine would needed as the cost of entry into the category. Managing the availability of spares would be a challenge and offering longer warranty periods would alleviate this concern and allow for price premium to lesser established brands. The product will continue the growth momentum for the OEM with the expansion into a new segment.
“The team was professional in their conduct and the insights were thought provoking and changed our views in the offering and go to market strategy”
“Head of Product Planning”