Yamaha to focus on metros, surrounding areas with digital push

G Balachandar Chennai | Updated on September 30, 2020

Two-wheeler major has set a target of 10% market share in India by 2025, says Motofumi Shitara, Chairman, Yamaha Motor India Group

Japanese two-wheeler major Yamaha has been reporting growth in its volumes over the past few months, following the lifting of the Covid-led lockdown. With the majority of its target customers in urban markets, the company has been embracing digital technologies in a big way to engage with prospective customers and spur sales. Motofumi Shitara, Chairman, Yamaha Motor India Group, spoke to BusinessLine about the company’s initiatives and growth plans. Excerpts:

Yamaha has moved up from 7th position in FY20 to 5th now in the two-wheeler market. What has helped it in the post-lockdown period?

One of our strengths is the strategically planned product portfolio that consists of two-wheelers for all riding possibilities — new riders, experienced riders, riders seeking the finest technologies or advanced controls and adequate safety features. The second reason could be the natural outcome of physical distancing norms that we had expected would trigger the sale of personal mobility. The third reason is relentlessly connecting to a larger customer base through digital mediums and internet-based services. The pandemic had certainly left an indelible impact on our growth plans but our strategic planning, preparedness and proactive actions have helped us register year-on-year growth in the months of July and August and we expect to continue the same way in the coming months.

Also read: Rough road ahead for auto sector

Could you highlight the key measures you undertook to boost sales?

Yamaha has set a target of 10 per cent market share by 2025 and we will eventually mobilise our resources to strengthen our network with the help of Blue Square, a newly launched showroom experience for a new generation of two-wheeler buyers. We reversed the concept by carrying Yamaha to the customers who currently prefer to stay safe indoors with the family. The Yamaha Virtual Store was the result of this idea. Currently, with the post-pandemic scenario and our annual plans to consolidate growth, we are focussing on metro cities and surrounding districts, where the demand for personal mobility will surge more than the aggregate rural demand this year. Overall, Yamaha is preparing to rebound strongly with the help of promotions and brand engagements on digital platforms.

What are the key components of your digital marketing push?

We are utilising digital technology in the field of marketing in three ways. Firstly, we are focussing on various tools to introduce the storytelling concept, as the social media team weaves a visual story from the content archives to take our target audience through the brand’s journey. Secondly, we aim to be agile on online forums and are tracking the ground reality from our sales and dealership network and consumer perspectives to get a more real-time situation update that could help to scale our business. Thirdly, we are constantly monitoring conversations around the brand and category in order to be aware of the challenges faced by consumers.

What is the ramp-up plan for Yamaha Blue Square?

Blue Square shops are premium standalone retail outlets conceptualised to transform customer experiences at Yamaha dealerships. Contrary to the conventional setup, Blue Square is designed to bring out “The Yamaha Uniqueness” and its sporty and stylish oeuvre in the overall build, appeal and customer interface. “Blue” characterises Yamaha’s racing DNA, while “square” defines a one-stop buying junction. Apart from the products, these outlets will also offer accessories and apparels, which are the prime focus of the company for the “Blue Square” theme. Our initial plan is to open around 100 Blue Square shops by 2021 across India.

Also read: For Yamaha, WFH has ‘no connection with distraction’

How strong is your product portfolio now?

Our BS-VI-compliant products for 2020 were launched between November 2019 and February 2020. The current line-up consists of scooters in the 125cc category with advanced safety features and technologies offered in a wide range of stylish and sporty models, and the sporty motorcycles in 150cc and 250cc categories offering Yamaha’s superior controls and refined power delivery. The scooter line-up is targeted at people in the age group of 18-28 years. Our Fascino 125 FI model by far is the largest selling scooter in India (88,474 units sold in January-August 2020) and accounting for 14.79 per cent of total 125cc scooter sales in the country during the period.

How are you planning to drive sales during this festival season and the rest of the year?

For the rest of 2020, Yamaha’s priority will be to revive retail growth while continuously connecting to potential customers with the help of various internet-based engagements and activities.

Also read: Two-wheeler makers pinning hopes on festival season

The post-monsoon and festival season this year will be the focus for many industries to snap out of the drowse in the earlier months and Yamaha will also roll out exciting offers and finance schemes. Yamaha will be offering attractive finance schemes for 125cc FI scooters in specific markets during the festival season, including low down-payment options.

Published on September 30, 2020

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