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Woman power fuels Scooty

Seema Sindhu  |  New Delhi 

An award-winning scheme that trains women to ride two-wheelers helps TVS ramp up sales.

Last month, the won the only at the which recognises the best of programmes from around the globe. The award was in the Best Activity Generating Brand Loyalty category.

The MAA Award, overseen by 114 judges from 27 countries, was the fourth international recognition for Mudra this year for its innovative campaign – Women on Wheels — for The campaign won metal at the PMAA’s, the Abby’s and the Grand Emvie as well.

Conceptualised & executed by the Mudra Group’s trade unit, Multiplier, Women on Wheels is a simple programme that trains women to ride two-wheelers.

As a part of this campaign, TVS has set up driving learning centres called Institute at its dealerships where girls over 16 years of age can take a week’s training for just Rs 350.

Since women account for more than 70 per cent of Scooty sales, the campaign, positioned as empowerment of women, was a smart move. It helped TVS post a 24 per cent volume growth in Scooty sales against the overall industry growth of 18 per cent.

The strategy — train and sell – is also in tune with a TVS-IMRB research study which found that any girl who learns to ride on a certain brand of bike would invariably like to buy the same brand — the training being a big influence on purchase decision.

No wonder, Scooty accounts for 25-30 per cent of the total sales of TVS at around 300,000 two-wheelers. The company’s Scooty portfolio includes Scooty Streak, Scooty Pep, Scooty Teenz and Teenz Electric.

The study also showed that while it is normal for men to lend their bikes to their male friends who want to learn how to ride, women face stiff resistance from even their family members. What makes it worse is that there aren’t many formal two-wheeler training centres in the country. The findings prompted the company to set up the Scooty Institute.

As most two-wheeler sales happen in Tier II towns, TVS launched the institute in areas with population of 100,000 to 500,000. The women undergoing training are in the age group of 18-25 and who don’t want to depend on family members or the public transport system for commuting.

TVS is now planning to scale up the programme to about 1,000 centres (from 80 now), using its extensive dealership and service network. Under the programme, dealers approach girls’ schools and colleges to offer training in riding two-wheelers. Residential areas and beauty salons are also targeted. Over 400,000 women have been contacted and more than 42,000 women trained in the last two years.

“In each centre, we want to increase the number of women being trained to 200 from the existing 60-70,” says S Srinivas, General Manager, Marketing, TVS Motor Company. One in every five students has bought a TVS brand within three months of the training.

While “Women on Wheels” is doing fine, TVS has also been banking on aggressive above-the line promotions and has used celebrities like Preity Zinta, Minisha Lamba and now Sania Mirza to endorse it. “It adds to Scooty’s aspirational value,” says Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

Bijoor says the product campaign reinforces the concept of women on the move. “It is all about breaking the stereotype of the woman on the pillion and the man up-front riding or driving,” he says.

Styling, easy-to-use features and the models available in 99 colours have all added to the aspirational value, says Srinivas. Pink is the nost popular colour.

Analysts say TVS needs to step up these innovations as it is still far behind market leader Honda in the Scooty segment. According to SIAM data, Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) sold 52,552 Scootys in September against TVS’ 29,468. Hero Honda is in the third position with 17,299 units.

While HMSI, which has Activa, Dio and Aviator in its portfolio, doesn’t advertise specifically for women, TVS may face tough competition from Hero Honda which is gaining ground fast with its 100cc, gearless scooter - Pleasure. Launched in January 2006, Pleasure is betting on cutting edge technology. For instance, Pleasure comes equipped with the tuff-up tube - a technology which offers an immediate remedy in case of a tyre puncture by using an anti-puncture sealant gel.

Hero Honda is also playing on the “woman theme”. Apart from Priyanka Chopra as the brand ambassador, the company recently launched “Just4her”, the first exclusive showroom for women customers of Pleasure. There are currently more than 20 Just4her showrooms and workshops across the country, serviced by women staff only. The company also introduced Lady Rider Club – an exclusive women’s club which is a first in the automobile industry. TVS has tough competition indeed.

First Published: Mon, November 16 2009. 00:34 IST