Bajaj Auto Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj
With a steady gain in volumes and market share, Bajaj Auto is now eyeing another 5 per cent in the motorcycle segment and will take its share to 25 per cent next year, said Managing Director RAJIV BAJAJ to Shally Seth Mohile. For this, the company will launch six new models. Edited excerpts:
Steady gains in volume and market share show Bajaj has finally got its motorcycle strategy right. Do you agree?
I have heard people saying that in recent months Bajaj is changing its strategy for the domestic motorcycle market. I like what Vashishta (legendary Vedic sage) said: Nothing is more right than doing the right thing at the present moment. My approach may change when the circumstances outside the company changes.
When exports were down, we tried to address that, and our efforts are now paying off. Now that the domestic market is soft, we will put our best foot forward. We can afford to do so, as the exports and domestic intra-city markets (three-wheeler and quadricycle) are now reasonably secure. We are working on the domestic motorcycle market single-mindedly.
Products are at the core of our strategy. We decided to launch 12 different products in 24 months. At the end of that, we should be able to get a market share of 25 per cent, hopefully towards 30 per cent.
Tell us a little more about this…
We have already launched six products, two of these in the sports segment. It has helped us hold on to 40 per cent of the market share despite competition from foreign brands. We have actually increased it marginally.
In the commuter segment, there has been no product action. But, we have re-positioned them and promoted them successfully. Our share in the entry segment has gone from 25 per cent, to 40 per cent — we are now neck and neck with Hero MotoCorp, the market leader.
It took us time to crack the entry-level market. Things changed after a meeting in January this year with Harsh Mariwalla, founder and chairman, Marico — one of the greatest marketing professionals in the country. He suggested we go for low-cost innovation.
Over the past 12 months, we have gained a 5 per cent share in the market, going from 15 per cent to 20 per cent. It’s almost the cumulative market share of some rivals.
What lies ahead in the next year?
What we want to achieve in the next year will be an encore of the past year. We should ideally have a market share of 20-25 per cent by the end of it.
We will launch another six stock-keeping units (SKUs). Three will be for the commuter segment, positioned between the CT100 and the Platina. The other three will be in the sports segment.
It will hopefully help us reach the target market share of 25 per cent. We know it will not be easy.
Will you be phasing out any of the older models?
The new models will augment our current portfolio. The old models are doing really well for us, so there is no need to phase them out.
Over the past year, the CT100, the Platina, and the Pulsar have become high-volume brands — doing 80,000 units a month. It’s very comforting when you are starting on three volume brands.
How will you ensure you don’t do a Discover, end up crowding the segment and confusing the buyers?
There is scope of multiple SKUs. While people talk about the Discover, they forget that in the Pulsar we had 150, 180, we had two 220s at one point. Nothing has gone against us.
It’s not about the product alone but positioning as well. The Discover’s brands — both 100 and 125 — went from strength to strength. The problem was positioning — when we started harping on mileage.
The positioning error doesn’t bite you overnight. Now we are very clear about the positioning of the models, and won’t make the same mistake.
What are the plans for KTM and Husqvarna brands?
We are launching a new KTM this quarter and have a very strong product pipeline. There will also be a bigger KTM in the next 12-18 months. Hopefully, we should be able to introduce the Husqvarna brand in the next two years. It nicely complements the KTM brand.
If you can touch upon the progress made in the Bajaj Triumph venture…
We are on course and should be able to enter the market by end of 2021. The two companies are working jointly on products and simultaneously, a master contract of the agreement is in the works and should be in place by turn of this fiscal year.