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Bajaj prepares to unleash new Avenger wave

| Updated on: Oct 15, 2015
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Rajiv Bajaj believes the law of opposites is key to its success

It first hit the roads as an 180cc cruiser motorcycle a decade ago. The Avenger has since been upgraded to 220cc even while its sales are a modest 4,000 units a month. All this could change in the coming weeks as Bajaj Auto gears up to launch a new family of Avengers.

While Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, does not get into the specifics of what it is in store, he says the move is in line with the company’s two-brand approach. What initially began as a focus on the Pulsar and Discover has now been extended across the entry, value and premium segments.

Doubling down

Bajaj Auto kicked off this new strategy with the new Platina and CT 100 in the entry space during the last six to eight months. The results have been extremely positive with the two brands now posting monthly sales of over 90,000 units.

From the company’s point of view, it is clear that the renewed twin brand strategy is working like a charm. Its success in the entry segment has now prompted a similar approach in the premium space dominated by the Pulsar. It is here that the Avenger will also play a critical role in its new avatar.

Rajiv Bajaj says the strategy revolves around three straightforward, yet profound, principles inspired by marketing guru, Jack Trout as well as the renowned Danish physicist, Niels Bohr. The first truth is that people generally buy what others buy. This behavioural pattern is common across all mature markets and reflects a certain confidence and reassurance in what someone else is doing.

It also explains the successful proliferation of brands in the arena of cellphones, washing machines, TV sets, cars and two-wheelers. Only five per cent of the population comprises early adopters who are quick to embrace a new technology while most others follow the herd mentality approach.

Two, continues Bajaj, man lives in the world of opposites where contrarian products are valid and have a role to play. This is where Bohr’s famous quote, “The opposite of the profound truth may well be another profound truth” becomes applicable. Finally, every mature market is eventually a two-horse race where the first horse leads while the second is the direct opposite.

Bajaj believes that these three principles are equally relevant to the bike market where the more products are opposite to each other, they stand a better chance in the market. Seldom does the herd mentality tactic work any longer since customers do not see too much novelty in a ‘me too’ approach. In the company’s case, this has worked almost perfectly with the Platina which is about DTS-i, styling, features and still priced aggressively. The CT 100, on the contrary, is sober, docile and unpretentious which makes it completely contrary to the Platina. “We provided two brands which are almost the opposite of each other,” explains Bajaj.

Across segments

In the premium segment, the Platina’s equivalent is the Pulsar which is stylish and hi-tech with a 48 per cent market share. “The question we asked ourselves is what then is the opposite of the Pulsar and the answer was the Avenger,” he says. Where the Pulsar is sporty, the Avenger is easy to ride and comfortable making it the direct opposite. In terms of performance too, they are completely different.

The market for Pulsar is large at 60,000 units a month which Bajaj believes is possible for the Avenger too even if it is doing barely 4,000 units right now. And even while he is reluctant to divulge more, some clues can possibly be picked up from the Platina and CT 100 experience. If things go according to plan, the Avenger has the potential to be a disruptive product whose sales can increase five-fold from its present levels.

In the process, the company could be hoping for an ideal scenario where its entry and premium products comfortably average one lakh units each by the end of this fiscal. The next step would be the most challenging in tackling the value segment where the Discover just has not been able to stop the Hero juggernaut.

As Bajaj reasons, the company has been hugely successful in every other category like sports (Pulsar, Avenger and KTM), entry (CT100 and Platina), and the RE brand. “So, in a way, we have 9/10 right which has been borne out by our consistently high profitability levels over the years but that one area (Discover) is where we need to crack it,” he says.

For the moment, though, the top priority is the Avenger where Bajaj is confident that the ingredients are in place to hit the bull’s eye. He then recalls the famous Bernard Shaw quote: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” It is clearly something that resonates with Rajiv Bajaj and his vision for Bajaj Auto.

Published on January 22, 2018

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