Jun 20, 2007

6 Indian Two Wheeler Industry.. Evolution or Revolution..??

Has the Indian Two Wheeler Industry had any "Revolutionary Products"..?? Well I think I can name Three..!!

Recently I came across a very interesting post on First Synn's blog which was also posted on XBhp.Com (by Synn himself). It was about whether the Indian two-wheeler industry is right now in an Evolutionary or Revolutionary Phase.

Quite a few interesting comments were exchanged on this topic. I felt that the discussion had become more of a debate on what should be considered "Revolutionary" and what as "Evolutionary".


"I don't consider the emergence of Big Capacity and Powerful Bikes a sign of "Revolution" for the Indian Two Wheeler Industry..!!"

Most comments in the discussion were of the opinion that inclusion of Hi-Tech and latest features on the bikes should be considered as Revolutionary. Another interesting comment was that during the 1980's there were 350 C.C bikes available and now we have actually come down to 100/150 C.C's. Even anonymous blogger Rearset has similar opinions on his blog where he wrote about the same topic.


So what is my take on this topic?



A revolutionay product can only be identified looking back and not by looking forward..

Be ready to be shocked guys but I don't consider inclusion of Hi-Tech features on Indian Bikes or for that matter the emergence of Big Capacity and Powerful Bikes a sign of "Revolution"..!!

Want to know why..?? Just read this post further...




Before I start commenting on the Indian Two-Wheeler Industry let us first see what is the definition given in the dictionary for these two words.

    Evolution:


      ev·o·lu·tion: Pronunciation [ev-uh-loo-shuh n]

      –noun

      a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development.


    Revolution:


      rev·o·lu·tion Pronunciation [rev-uh-loo-shuh n]

      –noun

      a sudden, complete or marked change in something.




Let me jot down a few words, which I would associate with "revolution"


If we observe the definition of "revolution" carefully along with the above mentioned associations we can easily see how these events brought about a "sudden, complete or marked change" in America/France/Russia, Europe and in India. So therefore we can conclude that whenever an event brings about "radical" changes in our life we can label that event as a "revolution"


Revolutionary Products:

Let me now recollect a few products, which I would associate as products which have created a revolution by bringing about "radical and marked" changes in our lives..

  • "Walkman" from Sony

  • "iPod" from Apple
Revolutionary Products in Automobiles
Ford Model-T
  • Ford Model T

  • Maruti 800

  • Honda Cub




Why are these products classified as "Revolutionary"..??




A Revolution is an event or product which would..

>>make dramatic/radical or marked change in our lives

>>should have mass involvement

It is because both the "walkman" and "iPod" changed the way we listen to our music. As for the Ford Model-T, it made possible for the common American to own a car during the early 1900's. The Ford Model-T was voted as the car of the century. The Maruti 800 was responsible in a similar way in putting the middle class Indian and his family on a 4 wheeler.

The Honda Cub, which was just a 50 C.C stepthru was chosen as the "Greatest Motorcycle of the Century" by none other than the Discovery Channel. The Honda Cub is considered the greatmest motorcycle ever for the impact it created in the 1950-1960's when it was launched (it is still in production in some countries..!!). The Honda Cub changed the way people rode their two wheelers in the U.S at a time when 1000 C.C plus big bikes were the order of the day.

All the above products were affordable, mass produced and devoid of any "Hi-Tech" features. But each product was able to create a sudden and radical change in people's lives. A common factor between the American/Russian Revolutions and the above-mentioned revolutionary products was the sheer "Mass" involvement.

So now it becomes clear that a revolution is an event or product which would


  • make dramatic/radical or marked change in our lives


  • should have mass involvement


Based on the above conclusion let us now discuss about the Indian Two Wheeler Industry..?? Has there ever been any two wheeler product which has been responsible for creating a revolution in India..?? My answer is.. "Yes, I can name three".

  • The Bajaj Scooter


  • The Hero Honda Splendor


  • The Bajaj Pulsar



My Explanation:

Bajaj Scooter

    Before 1998-1999 the Bajaj Scooter was the prefered mode of transport for virtually every Indian. It was popular not because the fairer sex could ride it too but because it was the vehicle which was affordable, could carry the Sunday Groceries and also your wife along with a child or two on it. It was the time which Bajaj ruled. Remeber the memorable "Hamara Bajaj" campaign.









    Hero Honda Splendor

    After 1998-1999 there was a sudden shift in the mindset of the two wheeler buying customer. The rising fuel prices made the two stroke Bajaj Scooter expensive to run. The scooter was also becoming out of fashion for younger bike customers. As a result Hero Honda had the perfect product in its arsenal, the Hero Honda Splendor. It was reasonably priced, extremely fuel efficient, had an extremely reliable engine and also looked good during those days. As a result the Splendor went on to become the "Best Selling" two wheeler in the world.



    Bajaj Pulsar

    After 2000 - till today, every Indian city has been flooded with an overdose of the 100 cc fuel efficient but underpowered Hero Honda Splendors and it clones (CT 100, Platina, Star City etc). There was an unattended need for a "fuel-efficient", stylish, macho two wheeler which also had to be "reasonably priced". Enter "Bajaj Pulsar"…!!, Similar to the Bajaj Scooter and the Hero Honda Splendor, the Pulsar has changed the way the Indian biker rode his two wheeler. Now there was more emphasis on "Style", "Power", "Hi-Tech Features" and also "Reasonable Fuel Efficiency". Moreover the 100 cc segment which has dominated the sales have slowly started to see a decline.




To summarize:

  • The Bajaj Scooter was responsible for putting the middle class Indian and his family on two wheelers.


  • The Hero Honda Splendor made it possible for the Indian customer to shift from Scooters to Motorcycles (and that too in a big way).


  • Finally the Bajaj Pulsar has been successful in providing the Young Indian Biker and his Girlfriend a "Stylish", reasonably "Powerful" and resonably "Fuel Efficient" motorcycle.



Q: What about "Evolution" for the Indian Two Wheeler Industry..??

Ans: Well... all the other two wheelers have all helped in the evolution of the Indian Two Wheeler Industry.

Q: What about the next Revolutionary Indian Two Wheeler..??

Ans: A revolutionay product can only be identified looking back and not by looking forward. We can at best predict and speculate. Also... Relax Boss… the Indian Two Wheeler Story has just kick started.. "The Bike Chronicles of India" will be always there to document it.






[If anypone has his/her views on this post, your comments are always welcome]









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Disclaimer:

This is to remind that the Views or Opinions in the blog are entirely mine unless explicitly stated. The Views and Opinions published in this blog should in no way be related to any other person or organization associated -- directly or indirectly -- with me.




6 Comments:

first_synn said...

Payeng: Nice of you to pick up my debate.. thanks... :-)

I do admire your way of looking at the situation. However, i do disagree on a couple of points:

1) Revolution is not always felt in retrospect. When a truly revolutionary automobile is launched, the whole market readjusts itself to cope up with the revolution. And I don't mean just the competitors. Factors such as the customers, their aspirations and expectations, the lowest possible denominator in the segment , and of course, the imitations from the competitors(eg: M800-> Sipani D1) can all be felt within a short time of the launch of a revolutionary product.

2) The pulsar, as i see it, was only a marketing revolution. Now i say this, because as a product, it was, but a natural evolution in the ideas present originally in the CBZ.

Agree with the rest of your views. Keep up the good work!

Payeng said...

Hi Synn..

thanks for appreciating my views on the interesting debate that you picked up.

I somewhat agree to your first point but I do not agree to your second point that "the Pulsar was just a Marketing Revolution".. I agree that the Hero Honda CBZ was the Precursor to the Pulsar.. and that Marketing of the Pulsar was really brilliant.. but I still maintain it was the Pulsar that was responsible for creating a 150 C.C revolution.. not the CBZ


To substantiate my point let me quote a few similar examples:

>> Before the iPod there were already many portable MP3 players in the market.. but it was the iPod which showed what a portable MP3 player should be made and marketed

>> Even though the Windows got the idea of a GUI from Machintosh, it was the Microsoft Windows which was responsible for making the PC popular (at least it still does in our country)


Therefore I am of the opinion that it doesn't matter where you got the idea from.. but whichever product manages to change the lives of the people, only that product would be called as revolutionary..

The CBZ might have come out as the first 150 c.c but it was the Pulsar which showed us what a 150 c.c should be..

first_synn said...

Payeng:

Yes, i see your thought process. But your own reply answered the question you posed, didn't it?

"but it was the iPod which showed what a portable MP3 player should be made and marketed".

There. That said it all. It's all about packaging and marketing. That determines the success. But is success alone the yardstick to measure a revolution? A revolutionary product by no means will always be fool proof. But an evolutionary product that follows it, can learn from it, correct the mistakes, and reap great success for itself.

Regarding the iPod, apple understood that all the mp3 players in the market are just generic electronic items with no personal attachment. Therefore, they marketed the iPod as a lifestyle accessory. Something that the owners would consider part of their life. And hence, the success. Not unlike the original sony walkman marketing campaign in Japan decades earlier.

The CBZ now, had two pitfalls. low fuel efficiency(compared to the economisers in the market then) and the high price. Bajaj spent a few years closely studying the product, and launched the pulsar, which took care of the pitfalls. The pulsar was simply the better package. The CBZ had no chance in hell.

But...

Who thought out of the box first?

That is the real question. Christopher Columbus(unwittingly) made his way to the Americas. 'm sure that several other Europeans found better and faster routes to reach the continent after him.

But who took the first step?

That entity would be the revolutionary, in my books. The rest are simply better at evolution than the pioneer.

Payeng said...

Synn,

I still, maintain that the CBZ definitely helped the Pulsar to evolve and avoid the mistakes the CBZ made.. So it was the CBZ which was responsible for the Evolution.

And I am sure that at least you'll agree to the fact that it was the Pulsar which helped the Indian biker think ahead of the 100 c.c economisers in a big way.

For an analogy let me quote that no doubt it was Mangal Pandey who was responsible for India's first war of Indepence in 1857 but it was Mahatma Gandi who was responsible for generating nationwide momentum and finally getting us our Independence in 1947.


From our discussion it is clear that now least even you agree that inclusion of Hi-Tech features and going for Bigger Capacity bikes isn't actually revolutionary. Getting the masses involved in a "Sudden and Marked Change in the life should be regarded as Revolutionary"


Also the term "Marketing" is loosely defined by most people as "the business activity which is responsible for selling a product after it is made.

Even my personal notion about marketing was similar to the one above.. But after my MBA I now have a better perspective as to what Marketing should actually be defined as. I'll soon write a post on what goes on to make a revolutionary product and also another post on how the Pulsar was born. Maybe then you'll agree with me.

first_synn said...

Guess it's all due to the artist's perspective v/s the business man's perspective.. :-)

Looking forward to those posts from you.

Anyways, what i meant in my post was, CBZ started the revolution, and dragged the competitors into a cycle of evolution. If it wasn't for the CBZ, we would have had no Pulsar, no apache, no Graptor... Just.. The same old. True, Bajaj took the ball, and ran away with it. But it was the CBZ that kick started the whole darn thing.

first_synn said...

Guess it's all due to the artist's perspective v/s the business man's perspective.. :-)

Looking forward to those posts from you.

Anyways, what i meant in my post was, CBZ started the revolution, and dragged the competitors into a cycle of evolution. If it wasn't for the CBZ, we would have had no Pulsar, no apache, no Graptor... Just.. The same old. True, Bajaj took the ball, and ran away with it. But it was the CBZ that kick started the whole darn thing.

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