Saturday, December 27, 2008

Brand Update : Bajaj Pulsar

Recently I saw an ad of Bajaj which showed that Bajaj XCD 125 is now in the DTSI Club . The DTSI which stands for Digital Twin Spark Ignition system was a technology patented by Bajaj.

This technology uses twin sparks at either end of the combustion chamber which gives faster combustion compared to the single spark plugs found in conventional engines. This twin sparks increases the power of the engine and offer better performance.

Bajaj did a great marketing move by patenting it and then branding this technology as DTSI. This is a classical case of ingredient branding. The DTSI was featured in the second generation Pulsar which was launched in 2003.

While Pulsar rode the wave in 2001 on the back of excellent styling and mind-blowing positioning , DTSI became the key differentiators for the brand after 2003. Pulsar was perceived to be a mean machine because of DTSI.

Pulsar thus created and ruled the performance bike category in India.

Its natural for any company to think of extracting maximum mileage out of a patented technology. Bajaj did just that by extending the DTSI technology to all its vehicle models including scooters . My doubt is whether Bajaj has commoditized the DTSI technology by extending it too much.

When DTSI was associated with Pulsar, it meant power , efficiency and performance . But what will DTSI mean when it is associated with a small scooter like Bajaj Krystal or a entry level bike like XCD.

Branding an ingredient is the same as branding a product. The consumers should feel that the ingredient brand is different from other ingredients . The concept of positioning also applies to ingredient brands.

In many ways, Bajaj has done correct strategies for DTSI. It patented it, protected it and branded the technology. But where it had failed was that it commoditized the ingredient brand.

Bajaj did not try to give a special personality for DTSI. Remember, DTSI had a strong secondary association with Bajaj Pulsar. Both the brands benefited out of this association. Pulsar used DTSI as a differentiator while DTSI got the performance tag from Pulsar.

But by making this technology available to all other brands without clearly looking at synergy was a big mistake from Bajaj. I have no doubt that the extension of DTSI technology to other brands will greatly help the sales of these brands . XCD will sell more when it has the DTSi technology.

When a measly powered scooter is also powered with DTSI, what is DTSI ? It had lost all its brand values which were power and performance. I don't think that XCD is anywhere near Pulsar in terms of power or performance. So in a way Bajaj has virtually killed this powerful ingredient brand.

The brand which is going to suffer most will be the flagship brand Pulsar. When every other Bajaj brands have DTSI, how is Pulsar different from rest of the crowd ?

The obvious answer will be the design. If it is so, then Pulsar could be beaten by any other bikes which are better designed. Having good looks is good for the brand but cannot be sustained over a period of time because :

Competitors can come with good looking bikes.
Designs can be outdated.

Both these are affecting Pulsar. Too many Pulsars on the road has made this brand dated in terms of looks. But DTSI was a powerful differentiator which cannot be copied since it was patented. But Bajaj , because of greed, faltered with one of the most powerful differentiators at its disposal.

Last month, I read a report saying that the newly launched Yamaha FZ 16 has become the number two brand in the 150 cc segment beating Apache RTR , Hero Honda Hunk and CBZ. In some markets, FZ also has beaten the market leader Pulsar. Without a clear differentiator, Pulsar is now more vulnerable than ever.

Is Bajaj listening ?????

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1 comment:

  1. Nice read. But I'm not sure that the DTSi differentiation suffered because it was applied to other brands. Infact, I'd say that the number of Pulsars itself diluted it.

    With newer bikes entering the market, Bajaj will have to constantly keep churning out new models. I don't think the DTSi brnading would stand too long if=n front of competition from the likes of YZ 16


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