It was a huge mistake! He confessed.

On a rainy day in November 2003, Tata Sons Chairman Rata Tata saw a family of four on a scooter — the father driving it with a young kid standing in the front, behind the handlebars and wife sitting behind him with another child on her lap.

Moved by what he saw, it got him thinking — if is it possible to build a safe, affordable, all-weather form of transport for such a family.

Four years later, & after multiple setbacks, Nano — The World’s ‘Cheapest’ Car launched in 2009.

And we all know the rest of the story!

Tata stopped producing Nano in 2018.

What do you think went wrong?

Ratan Tata confessed to the real reason behind the sluggish sales volume of Nano.

It (Nano) became termed as a cheapest car by the public and, I am sorry to say, by ourselves, not by me, but the company when it was marketing it. I think that is unfortunate.

This single statement sums up everything which went wrong with Nano. It was a Marketing mistake by Tata.

As a Marketer, this story holds an important lesson for you.

But before we talk about the most important learning from Nano’s story, let us discuss the biggest problem we all face — forgetting the lessons we read.

Don’t you think you also face this after you have read something?

We all do, right?

Hence, I am sharing one of the best ways to learn something. I want you to remember these lessons well and never forget this while making your marketing plans.

This concept has its base in the famous ‘The Feynman Learning Technique’

“When you teach, you understand the concept in a better way”

What does this mean?

It simply means is that if you want to learn something well, use it in your case and teach it to others.

You can’t share it if you haven’t done it yourself. You can’t learn it well if you don’t share it.

This technique solidifies your learnings for the long-term use and helps you build your knowledge.

This is what I am doing with this article.

I am sharing my learnings with you & this is helping me think about these concepts in detail so that I can explain it to you better.

And this cycle will go on with you applying these concepts and share them with your audience, friends & colleagues.

I want you to learn these concepts and use them well when you design your marketing plans.

Marketing is all about good conversations, isn’t it?

I am communicating with you and sharing the things that I am learning.

This is my fourth blog (in my lifetime) and I am determined to make this a habit to share what I have learned.

I can see I am getting better & so will you.

AND I am trying to be as authentic as possible so that we can learn this together as friends, explaining concepts to each other in a library. Remember your graduation/post-graduation days?

I hope you are with me on this journey to be a Better Marketer.

Now as we have developed a friendship, let me share with you one more thing I learned recently.

I know you want to know why Nano failed.

Just be with me for a moment before we talk about the most important lesson from Nano’s failure.

Do you know what’s the recipe to be a Better Marketer?

Let me tell you….

Yes. Experiences make you a better marketer.

Build your experiences by traveling to new places, get to know new cultures, talk to people about their life, learn new languages, etc. Do new things all the time.

This is the best advice I got and I follow it to the tee.

This helps me build new perspectives, which helps me in creating better ad copies, design unique messaging, plan insightful marketing campaigns, etc.

Better ad copies, unique messaging, Plan insightful Marketing campaigns?


This is the lesson that we will learn from Nano’s story.

Nano was a fantastic car, sold at a price which was unthinkable in India and delivered a great mileage. But then why did it fail?

The reason is, Tata forgot to consider the most important factor, which is, the values & aspirations of its customers.

Buying a car in India is associated with social status and prestige; if a person owns a car, he is assumed to be successful and settled.

Calling Nano — The World’s Cheapest Car dented this aspiration, resulting in sluggish sales & huge losses to Tata Motors.

Customers rejected the car and showed no mercy to Tata, a highly respected brand in India.

A simple marketing mistake — calling Nano a ‘Cheap car’ brought Tata billions of dollars in losses.

What’s the biggest lesson for us from this mistake by Tata:

Know Your Audience Well

Tata rightly identified its audience as users who have scooter/bike with a family of 4, & thought about building a safe car which takes less space and costs under Rs. 1,00,000.

What did they miss then?

Knowing your audience fully well requires you to create extensive ‘Customer Avatars’ or ‘Buyer Personas’ to represent different segments of your audience.

I am sure Tata would have created Customer Avatars but they definitely missed a few important parts of Avatars that created the gaps in marketing message that led to the disaster.

Let us first discuss about Customer Avatars.

So, what is Customer Avatar?

To put it simply, a Customer Avatar is an accurate representation of your ideal customer.

A business may have many segments of customers they are catering to.

This will mean, the business would need to create multiple customer avatars to personalize their messaging to their audience.

If everyone is your audience, then no one is your audience

Remember this before you write your next article, or create your next ad copy.

When you do this, think about:-

Writing to one single customer at a time

Try to create personalized messaging and join the user’s mental conversation

Try to include E-mail/Messaging to your content distribution to make the communication more direct and powerful

Don’t create ad copies that have no purpose other than sales. Try to connect to your ideal customer one-to-one.

Defining your ideal customer correctly and completely is of paramount importance.

Let us walk through this…

How to define your Customer Avatars?

There are 5 major components to a customer avatar:

  • Goals and Values
  • Sources of Information
  • Demographic Information
  • Challenges and Pain Points
  • Objections and Roles

Let us understand these 5 components through a real-life Customer Avatar.

He is Aman, a 21-year-old fresh college graduate with a degree in BBA from a Delhi college.

His goal is to:

  • become a Digital Marketing Expert

He values

  • professional development
  • meeting & learning with others

He reads

  • Blogs on Digital marketing concepts
  • Books on Marketing and Self-help

His challenges are:

  • Where to start his learning journey
  • Over-whelming amount of content

His pain-points are:

  • Finding content which is easy to consume and understand
  • Finding people to follow who have followed a similar path

His possible objections to my articles:

  • Am not an expert to follow & learn from
  • Will he learn anything from my articles

After going through his avatar, I will be able to build my article and titles in such a way that Aman will find my articles worthy to consume and build a friendly relationship with me as his co-learner.

Similarly, you can build Multiple Avatars to represent your Ideal customers.

You can start by building a single avatar initially.

Once you get the hang of it, you can start building multiple avatars representing the different segments of your audience.

In some cases, you’ll need to survey and actually talk with your existing customers to figure out who your customer avatar is and what they need from you.

In other cases, you’ll already be intimately familiar with the characteristics of your ideal customer.

In any case, move forward.

Don’t wait for surveys or interviews to be conducted to create your first draft of an avatar.

Make assumptions where you have no data or feedback, and put it on your shortlist of to-dos to complete your research when you can.

In the meantime, you’ll benefit from having an avatar already built — even if you have to go back and verify a few of the assumptions you made.

Now you can understand where Tata failed.

They did not consider the Goals & Values of their target audience while building their customer avatars, nor consider the possible objections of their avatars while framing their marketing messages.

Summarising the article

  • We discussed the famous learning technique that has its base in ‘The Feynman Learning Technique’
  • We discussed about marketing is all about good authentic conversations
  • We discussed how to be a better marketer
  • We learned about Customer Avatars and how to define them
  • Last but not least, we learned the biggest reason Tata Nano failed, i.e Incomplete Customer Avatar, costing them billions of dollars

If you like my article, do share your encouragement by sharing and clapping.

I am going to write every week about important concepts in Digital Marketing, Customer Psychology, Productivity.

Follow me in my learning journey & grow your knowledge learning with me.



Abhinav Garg

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I am a self-taught digital marketer who loves to build funnels of traffic and help organizations achieve fast business growth by gaining customers at profitable ROIs. I deeply understand Google Ads, Facebook Ads platforms and have above average understanding of Search Engine Optimization. I have a growth-mindset towards life and I invest a lot of my time, energy and money in continuing my learning journey to become the best Digital Marketers out there. I am an Advanced Scuba Diver and Yoga Practitioner (Certified). I love exploring new places, bike rides, local cuisines. My life motto is: Never Never Give Up

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