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The power of ‘H’ in the domestic two-wheeler market

RL RAVICHANDRAN | Updated on December 25, 2014 Published on December 25, 2014

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Hero, Honda and Harley-Davidson are dominating the two ends of the spectrum

The two-wheeler industry is booming in India with over a million motorcycles and scooters hitting the roads each month. Yet, in this intensely competitive landscape, it is the power of ‘H’ that is all-pervasive. To put it more specifically, this comprises the trio of Hero, Honda and the big daddy of them all, Harley-Davidson.

According to data from various manufacturers, total two-wheeler sales increased by 19 per cent (or around 6.4 lakh units) in the second quarter of this fiscal from the same period last year. Hero MotoCorp and Honda gained over two lakh units each and these two brands alone garnered 82 per cent of the total growth in Q2. Harley grew by nearly 200 per cent and is slated to wrap up this calendar at over 4,000 units thanks largely to its Street 750. The power of ‘H’ continues to be a force to reckon with both in the consumer’s mind and in the actual market place.

It is exactly four years now since Hero and Honda decided to go their own ways and, today, they are the lead movers in this market. Hero’s Splendor continues to be the largest selling two-wheeler brand while Honda has replicated this in the scooter arena with its Activa which is growing from strength to strength.

For the moment, Hero is the country’s leading two-wheeler player and it will be interesting to see when Honda stakes its claim to this position. TVS Motor, likewise, had a significant gain of about 45 per cent where the chief contributors were its scooters: Jupiter, Scooty and Wego.

On the wane

However, the Bajaj brand seems to be on the decline with negative growth of around 10 per cent, even while the market was up by 19 per cent. This is largely due to lower sales of its Discover series (excluding the launch of Discover 150 at the end of Q2) and also due to a negative variance in the Pulsar series of bikes. The entry-model Platina, though, seems to be seeing a gradual upward trend in numbers.

The company is the country’s top exporter of two-wheelers, with over 40 per cent of its output shipped overseas, but is facing a big challenge back home in the world’s largest market.

Yamaha posted impressive growth of around 30 per cent mainly contributed by the FZ Series of bikes. During this period, Suzuki fell by around 15 per cent. Mahindra two-wheelers, which had launched a slew of bikes and scooters, has not been able to capitalise on the market momentum. The company has shown a decline of around 20 per cent.

In the performance bikes segment, KTM is consolidating its position well with an overall growth of close to 100 per cent. Royal Enfield, likewise, is continuing its bull run with a growth of over 70 per cent.

The mind shares of the top four brands in the respective segments are shown in the tables. They reflect sales trends in the actual market.

Mind in Motion has captured the digital search trends for more than six quarters and has compiled the pattern of preference for various brands. The consumers online search patterns show interesting correlations between the mind share and market share for these brands.

Constant innovation

While brand leaders have the comfort and luxury of actual physical road presence of their models as their core strengths, the competition has to keep innovating their approach to create a differentiation in their product.

They must always strive to be in the consumer’s mind without any breaks if they have to grow in an evolved market. This is not the easiest of tasks in a market as diverse as India where brand loyalties play a big part in the buying decision.

The writer is Chairman, Mind in Motion, and can be accessed at >rlr@mindinmotion.in

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Published on December 25, 2014
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