Bajaj Auto’s twin-brand strategy revs up domestic bike sales

Murali Gopalan Mumbai | Updated on January 20, 2018

The Bajaj V

Hopes to close this fiscal with 25% share

Bajaj Auto has started the fiscal on a positive note with domestic motorcycle sales crossing the two-lakh-mark for the first time in three years.

The entry segment comprising the CT100 and Platina accounted for 89,000 units with the Pulsar, Avenger combine (along with KTM) following with 75,000 units. The commuter or value category clocked 37,000 units in April fuelled by the recently launched ‘V’ which did 24,000 units.

S Ravikumar, President (Business Development & Assurance), told BusinessLine in a telephone interview that the twin brand strategy across key user segments was doing the trick in generating numbers. Since June 2013, when bike sales in the local market plummeted to 1.6 lakh units, they never touched the two-lakh-mark except during the Diwali season when all manufacturers typically record high numbers. “We are delighted that this landmark has been achieved in a regular month which portends well for the rest of the year,” said Ravikumar. Bajaj Auto has targeted 2.7 million bikes in the domestic market during 2016-17, which translates into 2.3 lakh units each month.

The turnaround script began in January 2015, when the twin focus on the Pulsar and Discover was expanded in its scope to include different user categories. The company’s market share at that point in time was 14.6 per cent with the biggest concern being the Discover’s tepid showing. The new strategy kicked off in right earnest with the CT100 staging a comeback to complement the Platina in the entry space. Over the next six months, this was replicated in the premium category with the new Avenger avatars joining the Pulsar. More recently, the ‘V’ was launched in the value segment where the Discover was losing momentum.

“Today, we are at a comfortable 20 per cent market share and are confident of wrapping up the fiscal with 25 per cent,” said Ravikumar. If things go according to plan and the year ends with 2.7 million motorcycles, it is likely that the entry segment will be doing upwards of one lakh units each month. The Pulsar and Avenger duo in tandem with KTM may, perhaps, be in the 90,000-unit mark, which means that the value segment should ideally be doing over 65,000 bikes.

Clearly, the ‘V’ is an important component of this growth story and Bajaj Auto has already gone on record to say that it is important to be patient and wait for the numbers to come in. The company is banking on early adopters to spread the word which will help the customer base gradually grow.

Global arena

While Hero continues to be the market leader followed by an aggressive Honda, Bajaj has decided to focus on the global bike arena where markets such as Africa, Latin America and ASEAN will play a big role.

Exports have been on a rollercoaster ride lately thanks to the volatility in world markets. Bajaj reported 1.04 lakh bikes and commercial vehicles in April, a steep fall from 1.62 lakh units exported in the same period last year. According to Ravikumar, key markets like Nigeria, which virtually imploded, are now slowly coming back on track.

This month will see a near 50 per cent jump in export numbers to 1.5 lakh units and the momentum will hopefully continue for the reminder of the fiscal. In this uncertain global scenario, Bajaj has been deliberately circumspect and earmarked exports of 1.6 million bikes and CVs this fiscal. If Nigeria is an indication of things to come, the final tally could just end up being higher.

Published on May 02, 2016

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