Mar 14, 2011

18 Can't undertand Mr. Bajaj's Pulsar/Discover/Boxer strategy? Read this..

You must have definitely heard Mr. Rajiv Bajaj's brand strategy to focus more on Discover & Pulsar and less on the parent Bajaj brand.. but do you really understand him..??

It was sometime in April 2010 (when I was on my annual vacation to my native) when Mr. Rajiv Bajaj (MD Bajaj Auto) made an official announcement that soon the product brands "Discover" and "Pulsar" would become independent brands and the parent Bajaj brand would take a back seat.

Imagine for Mr. Rajiv... "Bajaj" is actually his family name..!!

Needless to say, Mr. Bajaj's statement stunned everyone. The usual questions were: So would it be Pulsar Motorcycles? Discover Motorcycles? In fact even till date not many seasoned business analysts and journalists have exactly understood.. why..??

After going through many of the interviews which Mr. Bajaj has given to the (puzzled) media, let me try to put forward whatever that I have understood..

"Sonata - Fastrack - Titan - Xylys"

An Indian with an interest in wrist watches would be able to tell that, "Sonata" is a budget watch brand, "Fastrack" is a brand targeted at the youth, "Titan" is a mid-segment brand and "Xylys" is a luxury watch brand.

It also shouldn't be a surprise to the well informed that all four brands are actually Tata Products..!!

What Tata (Titan Industries to be precise) has created are four "sharply defined brands which are not only segmented in terms of pricing but also in terms of brand identity.

Sharply differentiated brands makes it simpler for the consumer to recall the brand..

Fastrack was initially launched as a sub-brand of Titan, but now has become an independent brand on its own and venturing not just in watches targeted at youth but also into sunglasses and bags. Fastrack even has it's own independent chain of outlets spread across the country.

Sonata was launched with the tagline "Sonata from Titan", but later it was realized that the budget priced Sonata was affecting the premium image of Titan. Therefore the Titan tag was dropped from Sonata's promotions.

For the Xylys brand, which was launched as a luxury watch, Tata did not use the Titan brand but went ahead with the tag "Swiss Made".

Even the websites dedicated for these brands have been given exclusive treatments. Check out: www.TitanWorld.Com, www.Fastrack.In, www.XylysWatches.Com

"For Bajaj it's not just Pulsar & Discover but: Boxer - Discover - Pulsar - KTM"

Although the Discover and Pulsar brand would be the main focus of Bajaj for India, there are two more brands Boxer and KTM in Bajaj's arsenal.

    1. The "Boxer" is a utility motorcycle brand which is being exported mainly to African markets. There seems to be plans for a Boxer 150 for India as well.

    2. The "Discover" as Mr. Bajaj puts it is the commuter motorcycle for "Ram", the simple straightforward guy who looks at functional aspects on his motorcycle

    3. The "Pulsar" again according to Mr. Bajaj is for "Krishna" the mischievous guy who would also like to have a bit of fun while commuting

    4. The "KTM" brand will obviously be the premium range of motorcycles not only for India, but also for developed markets (Bajaj currently owns 38% stake in KTM).

Just as Tata has put (for its watch business) the product brands at the front and the parent brand at the background, even Mr. Bajaj is embarking on a similar strategy.

"The power of sharply differentiated brands"

If the "Sonata" is still sold as "Sonata from Titan", what are the chances that a loaded guy who is out there to make an affluent style statement would buy a "Titan branded Xylys"?

Same would be the argument if a "Bajaj Boxer" were to co-exist with a "KTM-Bajaj 200 Duke". A "Tata" or "Bajaj" brand might appeal to a certain set of values but would not be a perfect fit everywhere. Sharply differentiated brands can have advantage of pricing power.

A sharply differentiated brand also makes it simpler for the consumer to remember and recall the brand. In short, such brands will always be at the top of his mind.

For example: If there are two doctors in your neighborhood, a General practitioner and the other an Orthopedic. Then in case of a joint pain, which doctor would be your first preference for a visit? It's basically common sense right?

"Things have already started to move"

1. Communication: The brand transformation has already started. The latest communication in the form of TV Commercials or Print Advertisements, the product brands Discover & Pulsar as being addressed as just that instead of the earlier "Bajaj Discover" or "Bajaj Pulsar".

2. Showrooms: There is news that even the showrooms will also soon start to wear a new look according to this new branding strategy. Bajaj has already appointed international design firms to work towards this.

3. Sales and service also needs to get equal attention: After sales service experience is an important aspect which according to me also needs to be addressed for the wholesome brand experience. Mr. Bajaj has stated that the KTMs for India will be priced twice that of the Pulsars.

In that case, as a prospective KTM customer, I would expect nothing less than twice better after sales service experience than a Pulsar owner.

Investing in the future..

For many among us, the brand name "Bajaj" is close to our hearts and something which we find it hard to let go just because our childhood memories also include a "Bajaj" scooter in our family. But then just imagine, for Mr. Rajiv Bajaj, it is his family name..!! Something that he has decided to relegate discreetly into the background..!!

The full effect of this new branding strategy for Bajaj will definitely take some time, say from 5 to 10 years. But as I see it, by embanking on this new branding strategy, Mr. Rajiv Bajaj is investing in the future.

I am convinced by Mr. Bajaj's branding stategy, what about you?

P.S: Interestingly post the split with Honda, even Hero seems to be keen to follow Mr. Bajaj's strategy now (read more here).


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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.


Deepak said...

You have keen interest in Marketing. I like it :-)

A few more examples...

Van Heusen, Louis Philippe, Peter England shirt brands are all owned by Aditya Birla Group.

Lexus is owned by Toyota. Acura is owned by Honda. Audi, Skoda, VW are all owned by VW.

Also we can see such segmentation in cosmetic and personal care market. Eg: Dove is showcased as a unique brand.

As the consumer evolves, there is a need to do such segmentation.

S.P - Biker Next Door said...


Its natural as I am an MBA in Marketing. :-)

But learning never stops.

Rahul said...

I liked your analogy very much :) makes it so much easier to understand and relate the strategy!

I guess this is what is called niche marketing!
A lesson learnt in marketing today.

Deepak said...

I never knew you were an MBA in marketing! :)

Though I am only a Civil Engineer, my favorite subject is marketing.

Some of the books I have loved are: Buzz Marketing, 22 Immutable laws of marketing, Permission marketing and other Seth Godin's classics. Have read a lot more but don't remember now :)

I honestly think you should start a blog about marketing. And comment on the Indian Marketing scene.

Sajal said...

What I understand, when ever I talk about Pulsars or Discovers, I seldom use the term Bajaj Pulsar or Bajaj Discover. It's always a Pulsar or a Discover.

With the foray of products that are manufactured by Bajaj group, it's but logical that dynamic products like Pulsars should be marketed stand alone. If Bajaj group would have manufactured only Motorcycles, then there would have no issues. Take for example Audis. They are so potent products of VW, that they are an entity on their own. Not many people know that Audis belong to VW and that's the beauty of having such dynamic products.

It's not that Rajiv Bajaj is don't that happy with the Bajaj tag, it's only that when you have a product which commands it's own entity and has evolved into a self sustainable form, then why shadow it under cliches!! I for one totally agree with Mr. Rajiv Bajaj's thought process.

Sankoobaba said...

i also agree with this strategy..
pulsar and discover have become big in their own right..
pulsar so doesnt even need ads to sell it anymore..
this is good long as they keep making bikes even better I dont care if they remove Bajaj word from everywhere ...

Gurvinder said...

Creating them a brand name is giving those bikes a great respect.. Take it to a higher level for eg. Merc Mayback has its own Logo and not the three pointed star.. There are many egs. to give.. Beside Every Indian Bike enthusiast will know the name of Pulsar ... so, I agree with Bajaj, it is the time they should do it... cool... But, I think it will cost them a huge money to create separate everything for making them a brand names .. like Separate Showrooms, Cards, Ads, Vouchers etc...

Siddharth Soni said...

Well explained mate :)

S.P - Biker Next Door said...

@Siddharth & Rahul, thanks bro

@ Sanketh, Sajal & Gurvinder.. thanks for sharing your thoughts guys

Veerendra Giddaluru said...

No doubt this is an excellent strategy by Rajiv Bajaj and what's more, it's already tried and tested around the world by various brands in automobiles, but not in India. However, in India the same concept is applied in various sectors other than automobiles. So, this is something new to Indian automobile industry.. but as such it's not a new concept. And this is a perfect strategy to counter bigger international rivals such as Honda & Yamaha in domestic market.

Anonymous said...

i had heard a lot abt dis brand stategy concerning da 4 brands -boxer, discover,pulsar and dat mean da platina series will also be rebranded as a boxer brand or will it go under da axe...?anyway da real question dat has puzzled ma mind is dat, what will be da fate of da avenger series since iam able 2 see lot avengers on da road since da new avenger 220 was launched...havnt had seen da bike much on da road in its previous avatars (180 & 200) itz market shrs r all dis points to da question of what Rajiv has stored in 4 avenger brand...will it get axed or will it get merged with da pulsar brand since had heard rumors about rajivji having an intention of bring a cruiser under da sports bike brand pulsar...can u\anyone thow sum light on da matter...?

Anonymous said...

seems to be mr. bajaj has forgotted avengers....

Anonymous said...

Mr.Rajiv should look into the worst quality of services thaT his dealers are delivering to the bajaj customers around the country.First improve the quality in manufacturing and after sales.

S.P - Biker Next Door said...

About Avenger,

Even Titan has a brand called "Zoop" which caters to 5-10 year old kids plus some other brands like "Nebula" which are gold plated watches..

Since the Avenger doesn't have any direct competition, it can co-exist easily with the main brands "Discover" and "Pulsar".

About the Platina,

I don't have an Idea

SAMEER said...

Well said , Great

Anonymous said...

Will this strategy applied in Indonesia?

as the brand is something that would come first in mind when people decided to buy motorcycle.

So, in this brand-minded nature, I hope that Bajaj will not loose its image.

In fact, I still have a curiousity about this brand transformation. Why Bajaj did this, and what is the advantage?

S.P - Biker Next Door said...

@Benny, I am sure the Pulsar means something to Indonesian bikers like yourself.

Mr. Bajaj probably wants to make sure that the Pulsar remains remains distinct from the other models and retains its identity

Priya said...

Hi, great post & insights....thanks for writing!

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