French auto major Citroen, which will make its India debut next year with its C5 Aircross SUV, plans to use a ‘phygital’ approach while entering the highly competitive Indian market, where many foreign carmakers have found the going difficult.
Citroen, which would be the second French automaker after Renault to enter the Indian market, plans to initially open stores in ten Indian cities with a focus on the digital experience within the store.
“The word phygital is a play on physical and digital,” said Saurabh Vatsa, senior director, marketing operations, Citroen India. “We already have such stores in France under the name of ‘La Maison’ which means house. The aim is that when someone comes to the store, it should feel like home. We will have the same name and theme everywhere,” added Mr. Vatsa. As part of the ‘phygital’ experience, the company will have big screens and a kiosk in the store where customers can try all the accessories available for the car and even see the final look of the car before booking.
“Incidentally, to enhance the seamless experience between home and the store, the company will allow users to customise the car through its website and the customisation can be saved, only to be directly downloaded later at the kiosk in the store.
“The screens in the stores will provide a larger-than-life experience while allowing a person to sit with his or her entire family. It is always good to see a car in a large format than on a small mobile screen or tablet,” said Mr. Vatsa.
While the company plans to open stores in various formats, the larger format stores are likely to be spread across 5,000 to 6,000 sq ft with the mid-sized ones measuring about 2,500 sq ft.
Established in 1919, Citroen is part of Groupe PSA, which is the second-largest automaker in Europe after the Volkswagen Group, and plans to launch one new vehicle every year in the Indian market, starting 2020 onwards.
In an earlier interaction with The Hindu , Citroen’s chief executive officer Linda Jackson said that she intends to increase the annual sales of the company from the current one million units to 1.5 million globally with India expected to become one of the key markets in the next five years.
(The writer was recently in Paris at the invitation