Bajaj puts Chetak brand building blocks in place

Murali Gopalan Mumbai | Updated on November 13, 2019

Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto Ltd

The Chetak will debut in its new e-scooter avatar in January   -  Kamal Narang

The idea is to give the legacy scooter brand the respect it deserves

For Bajaj Auto, it is going to be more than just a homecoming for the Chetak, which debuts in its new avatar as an electric scooter in January.

“This time around, the strategy is to pay homage to the brand and we have decided to put everything behind it,” Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, told Business Line. From his point of view, this is a legacy scooter and an “elder brand” that was the pivot of the company’s business for decades.

The idea is to show that Bajaj Auto has “done justice” to its past which means it will pull out all the stops for the electric Chetak. Quite unlike its earlier innings as a value-for-money geared scooter that was the monarch of all it surveyed, the e-Chetak is not going to be a cheap offering.

This is a far cry from the 1980s when the only premium scooters were from the stables of Kinetic Honda and LML. Times have changed now with the e-Chetak expected to be priced at ₹1-1.5 lakh. In the process, its positioning will be distinctly premium even vis-a-vis its siblings at Bajaj Auto comprising motorcycles, three-wheelers and the Qute quadricycle.

Exclusive dealerships

Further, there will be no ‘Bajaj’ association with this e-scooter and it will just remain Chetak. Additionally, as part of the brand building experience, there will be two exclusive Chetak dealerships in Bengaluru and Pune where it will first be launched.

These will be, what is traditionally defined as, COCO (company-owned, company-operated) outlets with tremendous emphasis on the showroom display, design and overall buying experience.

Beyond this, Bajaj Auto will also house the Chetak across its 500-odd KTM dealerships in the country. KTM is the Austrian bike brand owned by Bajaj whose Duke motorcycles are manufactured and sold both here and overseas.

According to Rajiv Bajaj, the idea is to have small pop-up stores within these KTM outlets for Chetak. In the process, KTM buyers will also get to see this new electric scooter which means roping in their extended families comprising spouses, kids, siblings and even parents.

Retail strategy

The retail strategy is keeping in line with the premium positioning of Chetak. KTM motorcycles are also priced at over ₹1 lakh and the customers coming here are the ones targeted for Chetak too. The retail experience here is quite different from what is seen at other conventional showrooms for mass commuter two-wheelers.

It is also no secret that tech distribution is the biggest obstacle for a new foray like electric scooters and it is here that Bajaj Auto plans to pull out all the stops with its vast KTM network. Consequently, this will be a huge advantage over other players in this space who just have a sprinkling of retail outlets.

To put this in context, beyond the exclusive showroom in Bengaluru, the Chetak will also be part of at least 10 KTM dealerships in the city. As a result, the impact will be more widespread with greater word-of-mouth happening. Over the next 6-12 months, there is tremendous work in store for the Chetak marketing team on product validation and seeking customer feedback. The good news is that at least 300 KTM dealers are waiting to get their hands on Chetak. After all, a new offering means more footfalls and the investments on these pop-up stores will be quite minimal.

“The dealerships will be modern and futuristic,” reiterates Rajiv Bajaj while driving home the message that there is really no space for history and nostalgia. After all, the buyers for the e-Chetak represent a completely different generation with their own set of priorities.

The Chetak platform

“If there is good traction, there could be more dealerships for Chetak. Nothing should be lost in translation while building the brand,” adds Rajiv Bajaj. Going forward, the Chetak platform will be used to roll out electric scooters under the KTM and Husqvarna (the Swedish motorcycle brand acquired by KTM) brands. Along with Chetak, all three will be positioned as global offerings for a host of other markets.

Published on November 13, 2019

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