Mar 16, 2008

22 Consumer Buying Process: A Case Study on Yamaha Gladiator

A Marketing Case Study on the Sales Performance of the Yamaha Gladiator in India so far.. Using the "Buyer Behaviour Model"

Disclaimer: This Case Study is based on my personal opinions and thoughts and is NOT backed by any market research data.

You may want to agree or disagree with my observations and conclusions.. but kindly note that this post/article is just a manifestation of MY thoughts and ideas.

Buyer Behavior Model

Virtually every Auto Magazine in this country rate the Yamaha Gladiator as a good bike in the 125 cc segment. Even my own personal opinions do not differ much from these auto magazines..

But have a look at the sales figures of the 125 cc and above segment in India posted below (courtesy, Rearset). Since Yamaha India do not have any other bike except the 125 cc "Gladiator" in the 125 cc and above segment, the graph clearly indicates the sales figures of the Gladiator for Yamaha India.

Probably the Gladiator doesn't make it past the "Consideration Set" of the customer and make it to the "Evoked or Choice Set"

Even Suzuki India which also has the 125 cc "Zeus" and "Heat" as the sole models in their motorcycle lineup has been selling more than the Yamaha Gladiator.

Surprising isn't it..?? Inspite of being a good bike, why isn't the Gladiator selling that well as it should..??

Well, lets take this up as a Marketing Case Study (Like my Old MBA days, except this time there is no Market Research Data to back up my Case Study).

First lets divide this case study into a few sections:

    1. Who are the 125 cc "Target Customers" and what are they looking for?

    2. The "Buyer Behavior" of a typical 125 cc customer.

    3. The "Evaluation/Choice Process" of a 125 cc customer, before making the Buying Decision.

1. Who are the 125 cc "Target Customers" and what are they looking for?

I regularly receive a lot of e-mails and also inquiries from friends asking for my opinion about which 125 cc bike to go for. From handling such queries and also by interacting with 125 cc bike owners, I can tell that the 125 customer has one Most Important Factor in his mind; and that is "M-I-L-E-A-G-E"..!!

Price maybe another important factor, but in most cases, I have seen that the buyer could have streched his budget a little bit for a bigger and more powerful 150 cc bike. But still he does not want to opt for a 150 cc bike, because he knows that a 150 cc bike would give him less mileage (one doesn't need to be a rocket scientist to deduce that).

The buyer does not want to lose out too much on the around 65 Kmpl of mileage of a typical 100 cc bike gives but at the same time he was also prepared to sacrifice of maybe around 5 Kmpl (not much mind you) for a little bit of more grunt and riding pleasure.

Therefore the obvious choice was to settle for a 125 cc bike.

Q. But according to most Auto Magazines, the Fuel Efficiency of the Gladiator isn't bad and almost at par with what other 125 cc bikes offer.. Why does the "Yamaha Gladiator" have lower sales then..??

For that, lets look at the "Buyer Behavior" of a 125 cc customer.

2. The "Buyer Behavior" of a typical 125 cc customer.

Buyer Behavior Model
The "Buyer Behavior Model" shown above is one of the concepts taught to Marketing Students in the MBA course. The model has been seen to be quite effective in explaining the "Buyer Behavior" in those buying decisions in which there is a high level of involvement on the part of the potential buyer, that is, where the item under consideration is expensive and purchased infrequently.

Typically, the buying decision models comprised five stages:

  • Need/Problem Recognition: The buying process begins with a recognition on the part of the buyer that he has a problem or need. Market Research should try to identify what are the factors that make a buyer go for a 125 cc bike.

    Factors like price, looks/styling, resale value will be always there, but according to me, the Fuel Efficiency happens to be the most important factor for a 125 cc buyer.

  • Information search: According to Marketing Guru, Philip Kotler, information sources fall into 4 categories..

    # Personal Sources (family, friends etc.)

    # Commercial Sources (Auto Magazines, Promotional Materials)

    # Public Sources (Newspapers, TV Commercials, Internet)

    # Experiential (Handling, Using the product)

    Based on the information gathered, a 125 cc buyer will arrive at an "Evoked or Choice Set" from the 125 cc bikes available in the market. According to me, it is here where the Yamaha Gladiator fails to make it to the "Evoked or Choice Set" of most customers looking for a 125 cc bike.

3. The "Evaluation/Choice Process" of a 125 cc customer, before making the Buying Decision.

What is an "Evoked or Choice Set"..??

Evoked/Choice Set
The process of arriving at the "Evoked or Choice Set" of a customer is shown above and is quite self explanatory. According to me, it is somewhere here where the Gladiator has so far been unable to make it to the "Evoked or Choice Set" of most of the 125 cc customers.

Lets say that a typical 125 cc customer is Aware about All the 125 cc bikes available in the market and here is what (according to me) he would think about the models..

    "I need bike with Good Fuel Efficiency but not another 100 cc bike.. I think I'll look at the 125 cc bikes available."

    Honda Shine: Hmm.. must be a fuel efficient bike. After all it's a Honda

    Hero Honda Super Splendor/Glamour: Must be fuel efficienct bikes after all its a Hero Honda..

    Suzuki Zeus/Heat: Hmm.. relatively a new brand in bikes in India but the TVS-Suzuki bikes were fuel efficient also look at the Maruti Suzuki Logo..!! It must be fuel efficient like Maruti-Suzuki cars.. The bike looks like a commuter too.. Must be fuel efficient.

    Bajaj XCD: Yes, yes.. I know from the advertisements that this is India's most fuel efficient bike. Let's check it out.

    TVS Flame: Hmm, a handsome bike.. and the TV Advertisement says that it is pretty fuel efficient too..!! Let's check it out.

    Yamaha Gladiator: Definitely a good looking bike.. the advertisements showed John Abraham pulling wheelies with this bike in an Airport.. must be a powerful bike.

    Gladiator John Abraham TV Commercial

    I could not really understand a thing what the Gladiator "Grafitti" Ad meant though..

    But the Advertisements or TV Commercials doesn't say about the Gladiator about being fuel efficient.. Hmm.. after all its a Yamaha, the brand which once made the powerful but fuel guzzling RD350 and the RX100's.

Do you see the problem with the Gladiator now..??

Not every customer in India reads Auto Magazines regularly and not everyone surfs the internet to read reviews of bikes. The customer relies heavily on the Commercials, friends and family to provide him information about the bikes available. In such a scenario, the Gladiator probably doesn't make it past the "Consideration Set" of the customer and make it to the "Evoked or Choice Set".

According to me the problem lies with the way the Gladiator has been promoted/advertised so far. And I just hope that it is not continued that same way..

Yamaha Gladiator Grafitti Ad

  • Evaluation of alternatives: Not Applicable if the bike doesn't make it to the "Evoked or Choice set"

  • Purchase decision Not Applicable.. again

  • Post-purchase behaviour: Not Applicable here..

  • I ackowledge that these are just MY Deductions & Conclusions and might not reflect any Market Research data. But it would be interesting to see what are your opinions about the same.

    Do you agree with me or do you think otherwise..??

    Related Posts:


    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.


    Anonymous said...

    You know, I am a 2006 Gladiator owner.
    125cc she may be...but goes really fact all the power is loaded up at higher revs..she can fly..can overtake 150cc bikes...absolutely no vibrations even when cruising at 75-80 kmph. Can coner at around that speed...absolutely no problem, and this is with dunlop tyres..I am myself waiting to change to Zappers..I have heard people saying that the bike has no pick up..she may not jump at the starting line..but once at higher revs..there is no stopping her.

    Vijay said...

    Hi Payang...
    Good job bro... It was an excellent case study... I’ll use it in my MBA. But I would just like to add up to Ur study that, even today to a general consumers psychology (or call it a mind set) Yamaha is very expensive when it comes to maintenance... I mean its parts are pretty costlier if compared with other bike manufacturers... & what I think is that today Yamaha do not hold that reputation which it had in the past decades... With entry of other players in the market & increase in competition Yamaha is somewhere found to be losing its ground. It is still trying to run its old success formula... but boss "the world is changing much faster than Ur expectation!!"
    So Payang, I think Yamaha should learn something from Ur case study & try to rejuvenate itself to achieve the Glory! What you say??
    -Vijay Acharya

    Anonymous said...

    y do u always favor bajaj? is it b'coz u have 1? no offence

    Anonymous said...

    ur overdoing it dude!! lol!!

    Anil Kumar said...

    Hey Payeng.I am a Gladiator Dlx 2007 owner and I completely agree with the first anonymous person about the high revving Glady.It might not have booming pickup but it cannot be beaten at high speeds.The 125cc owners who go for other bikes in the segment just don't know what they are loosing out on.[p.s. my bike returns decent fuel figures as well].I would compare the Glady with Yamaha's eternal rival,honda.The Shine might beat the Glady at an initial stage but when set into cruise mode the Shine would fall behind,way behind.

    Payeng said...

    Bajaj..?? Hmmm..

    Where have I mentioned "Bajaj" here..??

    Anonymous said...

    if i knew u were givin mba lessons i wuldn't hav enrolled last yr. damn it. hahaha

    Payeng said...

    @Anonymous.. (Sigh.. Can we have Names/E-mail id's please)

    Can't give you the Placement or the Certificate..

    Siddharth Soni said...


    Sathya said...

    GR8 work brother, but the launch of SS,RS versions of Gladiator and Yamaha yZF 150 will change the mindset of people,

    what do u say,

    i have also asked u about the new gladiator's gear toe type lever when are u going to blog abt it.

    cheers for ur gr8 work

    Epiphany said...

    So basically the brand image is driving the sales?? I think it is a combination of all the old failures of Yamaha in the executive bike segment that have led to this situation.
    Also, in your analysis of target market I think you missed the college kids who want a bigger bike but can't afford a 150cc and thus compromise to a 125 cc instead of a 100cc...

    Payeng said...

    @Satya & Epiphany,

    The Biggest Advantage that any Japanese Bike Maker (Yamaha included) today enjoys in India is that the customer still has trust in the "JAPAN" Brand Name..

    Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha are such Global Giants that they can easily outsell comapanies like Bajaj or TVS.. They just have to give what "We" want.. and for that they have to start thinking "INDIAN"..

    The R15 certainly looks to be a promising product..


    Yes, you might be right about the College Kids who want Power but can't afford a 150 cc..

    But in this Case Study.. I have tried to think from the perpective of that customer who might not consider the Gladiator

    Arvind said...

    After reading all the user reviews available in internet, I finally went ahead and bought Yamaha Gladiator type SS fortnight back. It's a superb bike in it's segment.

    You are correct. The problem with Yamaha is their advertisement. They lost their market when they discontinued RX100 and the technical glitches in RX135.

    Those who rode RX100 know the power in Yamaha bikes. Actually the people want everything(Power, Mileage, Looks, Low cost) in their bikes. They have to prioritize their demands and then should take decision.

    Thanks for for your review on Gladiator and 125cc bikes. It was very helpful in my decision making.

    Sankoobaba said...

    I agree most don't read auto mag reviews nor do they search internet forums...they go by public opinion... and usually held notions and of course ads...yamaha has brand image among auto-enthusiasts....but among others they don't even know it is doing well....I think yamaha needs to build the brand among the masses if they want volume sales..

    srinidhi said...

    Sadly,in India,the ratio of commuters to bikers is very much large.Some very good bikes have got unnoticed.MILEAGE and to some extent looks matter the most.
    Nice study bro.

    road-yo said...

    Anonymous said...

    gladi is the best 125cc bike in the market . it has best in class handling and exceptional braking. and its damm fast..hell, i've touched 105 with galdi, other 125cc can't even think of it...
    but sadly the bike wasn't marketed properly. one more important factor is awareness.. most of the ppl see bajaj and honda bikes around them..they jst go by the popular opinion and the brand image..sadly, very few are willing to experiment. but one thing is for sure, those who ride 125cc bikes other than gladiator r indeed missing the joy of riding

    Anonymous said...

    Hello friends. I am a "Glad" to have a "Gladiator". Firstly i agree to all of the opinions posted above. I totally agree that the bike isn't been marketed properly. There should have been some more promotions for the bike. This bike is mainly aimed at the youth so let the promotions also follow a certain pattern. YMI needs to penetrate other parts of the country which I think it has fallen behind. Well YMI should reduce on the running cost of its bikes. And moreover just look at the kind of sales Suzuki is having though it enterd after YMI. Glady is a very good bike with commedable engineeering. It just needs the right push.. THATS IT... Otherwise IT ROCKS!!!

    Anonymous said...

    Excellent article...

    I m planing to buy a 125cc bike.
    My options are Yamaha Gladi & Bajaj discover 150cc(more like 125cc bike)
    My only concern is I wasn't able to see even a single Gladi in the Chennai streets.
    Bcos of this ppl are asking me not to go for Gladi.
    I m looking for a mileage around 55kmpl.
    Please help me figure out.

    Chandra said...

    Hi All,V indians belive wat V C!!!jst bcoz tey said XCD wil giv 100Kmpl v bought! no fact was seen!!I hav Yamaha Graffiti Red horse, which gives me around 55kmpl,though i never worried abt mileage,i bought since its YAMAHA, cruising in traffic was much easier and in freeways absolute sailing around 100 with low noise,vibration compared to other 125cc bikes except shine.But u hav lot more good in Gladiator.Power+Mileage+Look+Price in 48K wat more u can ask my fellow indians.Pls do some ground work before u do smething!!! & Gud work Mr.MBA, cheer up.

    Anonymous said...

    Excellent article...

    I m planing to buy a 125cc bike.
    My options are Yamaha Gladi & Bajaj discover 150cc(more like 125cc bike)
    My only concern is I wasn't able to see even a single Gladi in the Chennai streets.
    Bcos of this ppl are asking me not to go for Gladi.
    I m looking for a mileage around 55kmpl.
    Please help me figure out.

    road-yo said...

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