Mahindra & Mahindra is set to launch its range of motorbikes by this month-end. It had launched scooters last year, leveraging its Kinetic purchase. With incumbents well-entrenched in the market, Mahindra & Mahindra has started on an offensive even before the launch. “It had to go aggressive with a bevy of bikes because it has to break the clutter,” says PricewaterhouseCoopers Leader (automotive practice) Abdul Majeed.
The market for motorbikes is populated by the likes of Hero Honda, Bajaj, Yamaha, Suzuki and TVS. While Hero Honda has remained the leader in the volume markets of 100-cc bikes, Bajaj has fared well in 125 cc, which has put pressure on the former. Players such as Suzuki too want a greater share in the 125-cc segment. Mahindra & Mahindra is yet to unveil its motorcycles; however, market analysts reckon a 125-cc and a 300-cc will be part of the portfolio, to cover all its bases. It had showcased a 125-cc bike at the last Auto Expo in Delhi.
The teaser ads, shot in the Vallelunga MotoGP race track in Rome, are geared to ask the audience to hold their festive two-wheeler purchases till the bikes are launched. These establish the Italian DNA of these bikes. Only one of the bikes is tactfully shown in the ad without giving away the entire look. Designed by Engines Engineering, which has Ducati and Yamaha in its client roster, the bikes will have an edge in technology, claims Mahindra & Mahindra Vice-president (marketing) Devendra Shinde. “Even the shock absorbers will feel different, making for a better ride quality.
Launching more than one bike is not the only way the company plans to rise above the rest in the noisy motorcycle segment. It has also tied up with a website, indiabikers.com, to marry online and on-ground activation. In what it has termed as India’s best job (reminiscent of last year’s worldwide contest), it is offering 20 people to ride its bikes from the four corners of the country to Nagpur, all expenses paid, after the launch. Just as the world’s best job entailed blogging, so would this. “Along the way, they would blog and go to the motorcycle markets in the towns and cities where they will be welcomed by our dealers and employees. We have designed the route plan to cover the key markets,” says Shinde.
Mahindra & Mahindra is already sitting on a database of applicants (since the tour would mean a lot of distance covered while biking, which the company says will attract biking enthusiasts) which it can tap once the bikes are launched. It is also advertising it on Naukri.com as India’s best job, besides sponsoring biking communities.
Experts say that talking to biking enthusiasts and topping it up with mass media advertising will help its communication for all bikes without alienating either the value or the volume consumer segments. However, while scooters largely needed an urban playing field, motorbikes would mean Mahindra & Mahindra would have to size up against the formidable reach of Hero Honda and Bajaj. It already reaches small towns with the help of its 370 dealers. Majeed says features will be the main differentiator in the volume segment and the key to its wedging a foothold in the market. Will the Italian connection help?