• Madani Sahari

Enhancing regional recognition for Malaysian brands

The first part of this series discussed the importance of matching actual quality to perceived quality in the minds of consumers.

Despite all efforts in design and manufacturing of vehicles and its components, it is equally important to ensure efforts at the point of sales, as well as years of after sales service is given enough attention - to complete the longevity and sustainability of brands.

In general, all brands have a certain “promise” attached to them. This promise may apply to a specific brand, but can also be derived from the attachment to a particular nationality or region.

For example, the Toyota brand is synonymous with the consistent quality derived from the Toyota Production System (TPS), high technology is often associated with German cars, while “Continental” cars, i.e. cars originating from Europe have, at least up to the turn of the century, traditionally been perceived as having superior build quality compared to its counterparts from the rest of the world.

As the national automotive industry braves its continued attempt towards global competitiveness and regional exportability, we have come to a crossroads in developing marketing strategies in defining the brand that represents our industry.

While global market borders become ever more difficult to draw, global car makers have shifted to product development strategies which are peculiar to their own comparative advantages.

Traditionally, Malaysia’s national brands, Proton and Perodua, have had successful ventures within small and medium engine capacity markets (between 660cc to 1600cc), in particular within the A and B segments.

At the same time, global brands operating within our domestic ecosystem have also seen relative success within these markets, reflecting the tastes and demands of our local consumers.

As these segments generally comprise entry and mid range models, it is therefore highly strategic for Malaysia to focus on the strongest appeal of these segments in the minds of consumers – producing cars that are safe, secure but most importantly fuel efficient.

This rationale was a major factor in the government’s strategic formulation of the National Automotive Policy 2014, i.e. a holistic framework towards making Malaysia a regional hub for Energy Efficient Vehicles (EEVs).

The EEV policy streamlines the efforts of industry players, research institutions and government initiatives towards product and process technologies that are relevant to global trends of future powertrains, fuel consumption patterns and emission requirements.

While the policy framework has been enhanced through the numerous programs developed by MITI, MAI and other agencies for OEMs, vendors and after sales businesses, an important step in developing a unified branding framework is the organisation of the Malaysia Autoshow.

The show, to be held at the end of the year, aims to showcase the efforts in the development of the EEV ecosystem in Malaysia. To spur the EEV showcase at the regional level, the Malaysia Autoshow recently signed an MoU with the Bangkok International Motorshow (BIMS), to collaborate in the promotion of energy efficient vehicles within the ASEAN region.

As Thailand also has a similar framework in their Eco-Car policy, it is an excellent avenue to enhance awareness of fuel efficiency and eco-friendliness in automotive technology among the two countries as well as the region.

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