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Carsome's CMO Ravi Shankar on changing mindsets towards the used car industry

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By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

March 15, 2022 | 6 min read

The Drum catches up with Ravi Shankar, the new chief marketing officer of used car e-commerce platform, Carsome, on how the brand is using marketing to change consumer mindsets and behaviors towards the used car industry.

Ravi Shankar

The demand for pre-owned cars remains healthy despite the Covid-19 pandemic / Carsome

Previously the chief growth officer at AirAsia, Shankar has recently been appointed to be in charge of brand and marketing at Carsome. He will also work closely with Carsome’s chief brand officer Derek Tan on brand, creative, production and sponsorships.

Carsome is one of the fastest-growing brands in Malaysia and around South East Asia. Can you put that into context?

Headquartered in Malaysia, Carsome is the leading integrated car e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia with a strong presence in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore. In 2015, our business started by helping consumers sell their cars. Since then, we have grown to offer an end-to-end service in one’s car ownership journey. In 2018, we established Carsome Capital to offer financing solutions for used car dealers and subsequently, Carsome Certified customers.

In 2020, we introduced Carsome Certified, where we sell quality-assured pre-owned cars to consumers. We also set up Carsome Academy, our technical education arm offering youths education with guaranteed job placements, in 2021.

This year, we launched the Carsome Certified Lab in Malaysia, which is currently the largest car refurbishment facility in Southeast Asia. Carsome Certified Lab is a state-of-the-art facility that transforms a pre-owned car to be as good as new; it plays an integral part in supporting our pursuit of delivering cars that come with safety, comfort, and aesthetics, which subsequently translates to peace of mind for consumers.

How has marketing helped Carsome to get to this point?

Our marketing strategy has always been backed by data. Since our inception, we have logged in millions of data points whenever cars are transacted on our platform; these help us come up with our marketing and branding messages, as well as improve our customer experience as data helps us understand them better.

Marketing plays a pivotal role as we take on the challenge of becoming the top-of-mind brand in the used car industry. We want to convey the key brand message of delivering peace of mind and assurance when it comes to mobility solutions by converging brand, marketing, technology, and data to eliminate industry pain points.

What’s the brand’s strategy? How has Carsome balanced acquisition and sales with brand-building activity? What channels are you prioritizing?

As a market leader, Carsome has made significant progress in changing consumer mindsets and behaviors towards the used car industry. However, there is still more to be done.

We continue to work towards educating the industry and consumers on the new way of buying and selling cars - one that offers trust, quality choices, and transparency. We do this by using data and technology to gain insights into the market’s needs and relentlessly develop solutions that will bring value to our customers in the longer term. To build a trusted brand, we are also a staunch believer of hyper localization in our brand strategy - in terms of user, geographical and societal segmentations in all the markets that we are in.

What lessons can marketers take from Carsome's approach?

The key takeaway in Carsome's approach lies in the focus that we have had all these years, as we take pride in our pursuit to put our customers first. We make decisions with our customers in mind, and we leverage data and technology to increase efficiency and keep up with current demands. Our goal is to solve the industry pain points and create meaningful solutions, ultimately elevating the customer experience and journey.

We have developed a transformed and highly digital car ownership journey that removes the frictions and lack of transparency. We are relentless in developing solutions and have created an end-to-end ecosystem that benefits all parties, especially consumers.

What are the growth opportunities Carsome sees for the year ahead?

The demand for pre-owned cars remains healthy despite the Covid-19 pandemic, as cars have become a necessity for people to travel from one destination to another while adhering to safe distancing measures.

In addition, we are also seeing a delay in the delivery of new cars due to the global chip shortage and supply chain issues. As a result, more consumers are looking for pre-owned cars to fulfill their daily needs and this presents a good opportunity for the industry.

What challenges does Carsome face in the year ahead?

Carsome exists to create the most trusted vehicle ownership ecosystem powered by technology and data, and the challenge remains to solve the industry pain points as we see them. We have made significant progress in transforming the car ownership journey that removes all the friction and lack of transparency.

However, there is more work to be done in introducing Carsome to the untapped offline market within the Southeast Asian region. We want to continue scaling the automotive market sustainably and doing so by diversifying our services and products and being an enabler in all mobility solutions, helping consumers move forward with peace of mind.

As the industry leader, we have the responsibility of changing user behavior. For example, years ago, consumers would not even buy shoes online. However, after e-commerce players included the trust element over some time, consumers started pivoting their consumption behavior online. There is still some lack of trust for big-ticket items like cars, so Carsome is here to change that.

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