GP Petroleums Ltd, a leading lubricant maker in India and part of UAE-based GP Global Group, flagged off the REPSOL van campaign across 13 cities in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, to expand its market outreach in the South and increase awareness of the brand REPSOL, on July 4, 2018.
Two REPSOL-branded vans will conduct an interactive and fun-filled campaign among dealers, distributors, mechanics, retailers and direct customers for a month. “Similar things have been done by various people but here we are trying to improvise on what we have learned from other places. It is a simple van that goes into various areas, which are potential markets. We will introduce small gaming activities where people who come there are not just looking at some posters, but also participate. People who win that will be given certain goodies or discounts on the product. One of our representatives will also be there throughout the van campaign, who will be telling them about the products and the application, and what are the challenges. That’s the whole purpose of it. We are trying to really make that connect with the people rather than go for an advertisement in a movie theatre or on TV. This is more sustainable. This also gives us valuable feedback,” Hari Prakash M, CEO, GP Petroleums Ltd, said.
During the launch of the van campaign, the company also felicitated its distributors who qualified in the Champions Club Scheme that was introduced in FY 2017-18. They won prizes like a trip to Spain to watch the MotoGP, KWID car and Honda REPSOL limited edition 150cc and 110cc bikes.
The 550-crore company has a tie-up with REPSOL for India since 2016. It has been two years since the company has been manufacturing and distributing REPSOL brand lubricants in India. “We started REPSOL with the two-wheelers because that is the fastest growing market. Every year, in the last 2-3 years, one million two-wheelers were being added and most of them were scooters. Thanks to the Honda racing partnership, we said let’s start with that and in fact, it is a pleasant surprise that Honda brought the edition of REPSOL Honda bike in the market, two years ago. That becomes an attraction for us,” Hari Prakash said.
“Today, we have a tie-up where there is a technology transfer, we manufacture everything in India, so we are going by the ethos of ‘Make in India’, we are not importing anything from REPSOL, quality is audited every quarter, there has been no customer complaint and there has been extremely satisfying feedback,” he added.
The company has benefited from the fact that the Honda-REPSOL partnership has been very successful and they have been winning the MotoGP for the last couple of years. They have positioned the lubricant as ‘Champions’ Choice’. “Typically, we are trying to capitalize because REPSOL with its collaboration with Honda racing, is publicly known as winner in the field. So, our caption basically is, REPSOL – Champion’s Choice, because they are the champions now and we would like to proudly proclaim it. So, we have been capturing the mind-set of the people. If he is a racing enthusiast, I’m sure he will be interested in a brand which is winning in the races. The growth for REPSOL has been almost 74%,” Hari Prakash said.
Apart from REPSOL, the company has its own brand of lubricant called IPOL. They manufacture three kinds of oil – Industrial, Automotive and Rubber processing. “Around 20% of our sales comes from automotive and the rest 80% is split between the other two,” he said.
The company has a strong foothold in the South and that is the reason that they also flagged off the REPSOL van from Chennai. “About 33% of our business last year was from the South. The South generally, for most of the products, is a brand conscious market. They really extract value for money and they are also happy to see a good brand for good vehicle and people do their own study. Whereas, North is extremely tough on pricing and it is a very tough market in that perspective,” Hari Prakash said.
During the interaction with the media, when asked about the competition that the company faces from established ones, he seemed positive that their marketing strategy will hit the right spot, their target customers being the mechanics and garage owners. “The actual customer who buys and who is the decision-maker is the mechanic. The game-changers are either the workshops that have a franchise or complete dominance saying that this is the lubricant we will use; or the smaller mechanics who decide what is the lubricant to be used. So, how do we capture their mind-set? For example, this van campaign what we have launched now, is going to tell the mechanics that we are close to you. Because, whatever we advertise in TV is for the general public; the person who buys it is the mechanic,” he said.
Right now, the market-share of the company is less than 1%, but he seems positive about the future. “If you see the lubricant market, they say it is about 2.3 million metric kl (kilo litres). Half of it is automotive and the other half is industrial. It is a crowded market, yet it offers scope for new entrants as well. People are looking at brands, and if you see the public perception, there is a favouritism of quality and technology mind-set for the multinational brands. If you look at Honda, why did they bring out the REPSOL model? Which only means that a company like Honda is supporting a brand like REPSOL, then there is credibility; we don’t have to sell it. That’s one of the major ways in which we try to convince the people that there is a product, which is having a specific positioning in the market, which is also a leader. So, we will have the muscle power to compete with the top brands in India on that platform, but it will take time to capture the market share, because India is such a large country and changing the perception of the people toward the brand will take time. How we convince the people differs,” Hari Prakash said.