Friday, July 10, 2009

Suzuki GS 150 : Drive Me Crazy

Brand : Suzuki GS 150
Company : Suzuki Motors
Agency :RK Swamy

Brand Analysis Count : 407

Suzuki Motors entered the two wheeler market in 1982 through a joint venture with TVS and launched their first two wheeler Ind Suzuki in 1984. Ind Suzuki was a success in the Indian market. After a rocky relationship, TVS and Suzuki parted ways in 2002.

Suzuki re-entered Indian market in 2006 with two brands Zeus and Heat . But both these brands failed to make a mark in the market.

2009 is witnessing another attempt by Suzuki to grab a pie of the two wheeler market. Suzuki recently launched a 150 cc motorcycle Suzuki GS 150. The 150 cc bike which is priced at around Rs 60000 is trying its luck in the highly competitive Executive bike segment.

As discussed in my other posts on automotive brands, the success of the brand is dependent heavily on product quality than anything else. Brands like Activa has proved that product performance is the best possible advertising.

How ever in the case of brands like Suzuki and Yamaha, brand promotion is of utmost importance because of the peculiar situations they are facing.

Suzuki is the market leader in four wheeler segment but it is surprising that the brand has failed miserably in replicating its success in the two wheeler market.
There are two reasons for this failure. The first reason is that Suzuki is not serious about their two wheeler business in India. The efforts of the company was half-hearted and the brand does not have a deep distribution channel .
Second is their selection of products for the Indian market. Suzuki is doing the same mistake which Yamaha earlier did - launching substandard products for mass markets. Yamaha learned from mistakes and came back with good powerful bikes. But Suzuki is adamant that it will learn only from its mistakes.

GS 150 is launched for the highly competitive executive segment aiming for the numbers. But I think it was not a good strategy for Suzuki to launch a product in that segment while making a come back.

Now look at the relaunch scenario. Suzuki motorcycles does not have any meaningful equity in the consumer's mind. Although Suzuki cars have excellent equity , there is no guarantee that consumers will feel the same in the two wheeler segment. The failure of its earlier models and the long absence from the industry has removed this brand from the consideration set of the potential consumers.

Consumers of executive segment are very pampered. The players in this segment invest heavily in product features aswellas branding. With Pulsar and Hero Honda leading the crowd, it is a very difficult market to crack.

So the chances of Suzuki making an impact in this segment looks bleak.

Having said that , a company like Suzuki can change the game by launching a product that Indian consumers has never seen before. Suzuki has the technological ability and money power to do that. A high profile product with a marketing blitzkrieg can make Suzuki a hot property...

But Alas.....

Look at the branding strategies of GS 150. The brand is currently running a television commercial in most channels.
Watch the Tvc here : Suzuki GS150
It is one of the boring commercials I have seen in recent times. A commercial which lacks both imagination and strategic intent. A girl getting aroused while pillion riding a bike is an idea which has been raped a million times.
The brand has the tagline " Drive me crazy " which is nothing but unimaginative. Frankly there is nothing much to speak about the campaign. No clarity in USP or differentiation.

What Suzuki needed was a powerful statement. A power bike which would showcase its capabilities to the consumers. Yamaha did the comeback with R 15 launch. More than the volume, R15 was aimed at rebuilding the Yamaha brand. Once consumers got the taste of Yamaha technology, mass models will reap the benefit.

Suzuki should have bought in their superbikes and should have unleashed a campaign revolving around these macho machines. Time should be spent on building the core Suzuki brand reminding Indian consumers about the capability and technological superiority of this brand.
But Suzuki went after the volumes thereby killing all scope of building a brand.