Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Brand Update : Bajaj Kristal RIP ( 2007-2010)

Bajaj recently announced its exit from the scooter market. This announcement also marked the death of the last scooter brand from Bajaj -- Bajaj Kristal. Kristal was launched in 2007 was aimed at capturing the scooterette market dominated by TVS Scooty.

The failure of Kristal was a marketing failure. The firm failed to launch a product that was well differentiated and offered value to the customer. I had written about the stiff pricing of Kristal which may have caused the pathetic response from the customers. Kristal was a half-hearted attempt which was visible in the way this brand was promoted. After the initial promotions, there was no voice for the brand. It was a brand crafted for failure.

Interestingly ,the announcement of Bajaj's exit from scooter market evoked lot of media attention. Channels devoted lot of prime-time discussing the Hamara Bajaj campaign and the death of icons. There was a lot of emotional brouhaha which was totally unnecessary because the exit from the market is a pure business decision. Although the top management of Bajaj was finding it difficult to explain the reasons for the exit, one should understand that Bajaj feels that scooters does not fit into their business model and decided to exit. Nothing more , Nothing less.

The fact remains that Bajaj was not able to either understand the consumer expectations in the scooter segment and develop appropriate product which is a setback to the company's image. The fact that new players like Mahindra scooters are entering the scooter segment adds to the insult and injury to the Bajaj brand.

Even in the case of motorcycles, Bajaj is not having a wonderful time. It had shown a spark of brilliance when Pulsar was introduced, but even after 9 years, Bajaj could not come out with another brand like Pulsar. What it is doing is to milk Pulsar to death.

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  1. Please refer to sales figures if possible.

    In Nov 2009 sales of Bajaj Motorcycles increased 84% compared to 2008. Which is the highest growth in the 2 wheeler industry.

    The Discover DTS-Si launched a few months back are selling like hot cakes and so is the recent Pulsar 150/180/220 upgrades.

    The combined Pulsar sales are now around 55,
    000. The Pulsar brand is only becoming stronger. It is clear that the consumer do not want Pulsar to change drastically.

    The Yamaha FZ motorcycle might have brought in new styling, but Yamaha India combined sales are just around 17,000.

    Sales numbers speak a lot

  2. @ Biker, Thanks for sharing your views and the numbers. I agree that these products are selling well. But I am worried about the long term sustainability of Pulsar brand. If there are too many extensions and variants, the brand will lose its equity. The 135 cc will sell more but Pulsar will lose a lot of its masculinity because of that variant

  3. @Biker and Harish,

    Lets ask ourself what makes a motorcycle "Masculine" (Definitely Male)??

    Is it just the "Engine CC", or is it the "Styling", or maybe the "Ride experience" which makes it "Masculine" in the "Minds" of the customer.

    According to me it is all the above aspects combined with a good promotional strategy which gives a motorcycle a "Definitely Male" character.

    I have seen and ridden the Pulsar 135LS on a showroom visit, and being a Pulsar rider/owner myself, I have the opinion that the Pulsar 135LS looks and feels like a younger Pulsar.

    If the Pulsar 150/180/220 has the character of a 25+ male, then the Pulsar 135LS has the character of a young male who is in his late teens or maybe in his early twenties.

    A younger male maybe.. but yes, a Definitely Male nevertheless.

    Even Bajaj Auto has aptly christened it as Pulsar 135LS, in which the LS stands for "Light Sports".

    It makes good business sense as the customer base widens (provided the brand essence is kept intact).

    As an analogy, probably I can think of the apple iPod family, in which iPods exist from the tiny "Shuffle", compact "Nano" to the higher end "iPod Touch".

    Other analogies I can think of is BMW 3/5/7 series and the Mercedes C/E/S class.

  4. vinay7:18 AM

    I agree with harsih. Bajaj failed miserably in the scooter business and was just milking it with their older models when they could. And even I fear the same for pulsar that they are riding on it for now, but would be only till a competitor comes and gives the customer something better.
    Bajaj is disgusting in giving best to customer as time goes by.
    This is the same company which still sells 2-stroke autos!!

  5. @Vinay

    Bajaj failed in their scooter business not because because it was milking its "older models" like the Chetak, but because of..

    [1][External Environment Change]
    In the late 1990's-early 2000's, there was change in taste of the Consumer (due to various external factors like rise in fuel prices, percetion of style associated with motorcycles etc.) from "Geared" scooters to more fuel efficienct and stylish 4-stroke motorcycles.

    [2][Inability to build a strong brand in the "Gearless" scooter category]
    When HMSI launched its "Gearless" Activa and built a brand for itself, Bajaj wasn't able to do the same for itself with a "Gearless" scooter. (Saffire, Wave, Kristal.. none did well)

    (TVS and more recently Hero Honda however did manage to carve a niche for itself in the gearless scooter category with the female centric "Scooty" and "Pleasure" brand respectively).

    The Market has clearly moved away from the "Geared" scooter category.

    Scooters now seem to be coming back in India, but only in its new "gearless" avatar.. in which the Honda Activa is clearly the new "Chetak" for the "gearless" scooter category.

    Therefore its in the interest of BAL to strengthen its current strongest brand, i.e "Pulsar" and at the same time increasing its market share.

  6. Bajaj Kristal looks powerful and stylish but people have given such a low response to it.I feel Bajaj has to struggle more in this segment.

  7. i have a red kristal but i am facing a problem of not finding its spairparts because of the company they did not think once about thier kristal customers we are facing so much problem because of them only.....


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