If there is a car brand synonymous with the vast Indian mass market, it is Maruti. Ever since the carmaker started its journey nearly 35 years ago, it has managed to stay ahead of the competition with a smart mix of affordable models aimed at the middle-class buyer. Much of Maruti Suzuki India’s success can be attributed to its chairman, R.C. Bhargava, and, more recently, its razor-sharp strategist Kenichi Ayukawa, who is its chief executive. The Bhargava-Ayukawa duo has managed to beat intense competition of late and ensure the company stays firmly on the road to profitable growth. Consider some recent figures: Today, one in every two cars sold is a Maruti, its market capitalisation is over ₹2 lakh crore, and its 2017-18 net profit was a record ₹7,722 crore. Validation enough that the company is in fine fettle.
However, as Debabrata Das and Prerna Lidhoo tell us in the cover story in this anniversary issue, the company managed this performance by undertaking some key tweaks to its strategy. Known primarily as a maker of no-frills, functional cars, the company decided to expand its horizon and move beyond hatchbacks to sedans and sports utility vehicles (SUVs). After all, customer preferences were changing, global majors like Hyundai and Honda were snapping at its wheels and Maruti had to, in a sense, reinvent itself to attract the millennials. To be sure, it never moved away from its core of cheaper, small cars which were priced just right for the middle class. But the smart mix of this core constituency, together with attractively priced, snazzily designed models like the full-size sedan Ciaz and the compact SUV Vitara Brezza, seems to be paying off. Significantly, Ayukawa underscores that the company’s strategy of giving what the customer wants and keeping things simple remains unchanged.
In this eighth anniversary double-cover issue, we also get you the exclusive story of legendary former Cisco Systems boss John Chambers’ entry into the lucrative cybersecurity market in India, by way of an investment in Lucideus, the firm co-founded by ethical hacker Saket Modi. With cybersecurity a key concern among the largest corporations and its CEOs, Chambers reckons there is a huge market to be won in this segment in India. For Modi and his company, the investment by Chambers’ JC2 Ventures is a big endorsement and one that can open doors to big-time success in the future. Deepti Chaudhary speaks exclusively to Chambers and Modi, and finds that it’s no surprise both see major growth opportunities in India, given that India sees as much as 39% of its cybersecurity alerts unattended owing to the lack of skills in this field.
Coming to the anniversary itself: Eight years is not a very long time, but ever since Fortune India was launched in 2010, the enormous strides taken by the Indian economy and several significant developments in the corporate sector tell us that these years have been both dramatic and highly eventful. To give you a sense of this, elsewhere in this issue we bring you some of the key faces who grabbed headlines for various reasons—good and bad— and why we feel they made news. Happy reading!
(The article was originally published in the Oct 2018 issue of the magazine.)