Doing a market survey for a joint Ashok Leland – Nissan venture proved challenging but rewarding for two Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies students. During their internship, Pankaj Sharma and Anil Kumar Yadav got hands-on experience in developing a marketing questionnaire, conducting the survey, and preparing a report on their findings.
The two companies are developing a light commercial vehicle (LCV), Pankaj Sharma said, and “they wanted to check the feasibility of the product in the market, basically in the Mumbai market. Also, they wanted to know if the design that they are coming up with is correct or not and which are the extra additional features the customer will prefer.”One of the main challenges of the project was conducting the actual survey, with Anil noting they had to go into dusty industrial areas where trucks were parked and get answers and insights from drivers. “Tackling all of this was very difficult,” he said. And Pankaj also found getting all the perspectives on the various models to be the most challenging. But the questionnaire was also a highlight for Anil.
“The headquarters in Chennai asked us to make the questionnaire for the market research and we did it in one go, reached their expectations,” he said. “Even the product manager himself complimented that he couldn’t do it himself.”
The Ashok Leyland-Nissan project stands out from competitors in that it combines the respected brand of Ashok Leyland, long active in and familiar with the Indian market, with Nissan’s technology and prominent position in the global market, said Anil. “The different showrooms developed also make it stand out,” said Pankaj, “along with the test drives they offer, with lorries filled to capacity so buyers and judge a vehicle’s performance when it’s fully loaded.”
Both felt this internship project helped them grow professionally and personally, with Pankaj saying he learned about the vehicle market, the workings of showrooms, operations and stock keeping, along with the thought processes involved in being a product manager. Meeting all people from various levels of management, from the top most product manger and regional manger right down to the customers at the grassroots level was a great help for Anil.
He said he learned how management looks at the whole picture and how a single customer looks at the same thing. “Getting these insights was crucial,” he said. “We had studied all these things in theory; we did not know how it looks from the ground.”