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Cross badging or badge engineering is a strategy used globally in the auto sector. This concept was introduced in 2011 when Skoda and VW simultaneously launched Rapid and Vento in the Indian market. Rather than working out as a win-win proposition, cross-badging resulted in cannibalization. Later in 2012, Japanese auto major Nissan & European manufacturer Renault also joined hands & launched Micra & Pulse. Both are essentially the same cars, with some cosmetic differences, made in the same factories, but sold under different names. As rightly put, both attempts so far have been failures. Cross badging did not expand the market; on the contrary, it shrank. Cross badging is being used for decades in the United States and Europe to boost sales, though it has not always been a success. In recent times the only instance of cross badging working is that of the Subaru BRZ and the Toyota Scion FR-S, both launched in the US Automakers also point out that the benefits of cross-badging have been proven in global markets. The biggest benefits of cross-badging are savings in design and engineering costs, and gains in sales with minimal incremental investments. But India as an automotive market is still evolving. Global original equipment manufacturers (OEMS) are appreciating that India is a different market and needs to be treated separately, which has resulted in a lot of iterations of their market strategy. Consumers in India do not have a clear perspective on different brands, their premium positioning, etc. How many of us know the difference in brand value between a Micra and a Pulse? We are not a country where a customer walks into a multi-brand showroom, looks at competing brands and understands the ethos of the different brands. Now it is a big challenge for Maruti & Toyota to sell sedan like Corolla through its existing sales channel NEXA and if at all Toyota manages to sell cross badged products in huge numbers then it will have to work on its reach and presence to provide robust service as more numbers will bring in more issues at the service end. Now, with not so successful stories of cross badging in the Indian market, it will be interesting to see Toyota and Maruti, which dominates the Indian market, gearing up for cross badging. This time the products put on the stake are Brezza, Baleno and Corolla.

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