MUMBAI, November 1
Bajaj Auto Ltd. (BAL) the largest two-wheeler maker in the country, has launched what it calls an energized version of its hot-selling Caliber motorcycle. Without any changes to the integral engineering of the bike, (that is, the engine, gear-box or the suspension) the new Caliber sports better brakes, new electricals and quite interestingly, decals that showcase the Kawasaki name more than that of Bajaj. All this for an additional Rs 1,500, taking its on-road price in Mumbai to Rs 46,415. Incidentally, the Caliber had created history when it was launched two years back by reaching the 100,000-unit mark faster than any other Indian bike in history.
Speaking exclusively to agencyfaqs! about the yet to be publicised product, Nitin Kochar, manager (marketing services), BAL, said, "We wanted to value-add to the Caliber which is a bench-mark in style and image. We feel the new price tag continues to provide exceptional value-for-money considering the host of new features. What we have aimed to do here is upgrade the product with new features to provide more excitement to the customer."
Excitement it does provide, for at first glance, the new Caliber looks snazzier than the earlier version, and many-a-notch better than its main competition, the Splendor, which incidentally, got a recent cosmetic makeover. But it's more than looks. The Caliber's brakes have been improved with 130-mm drums in place of the earlier 110 drums. A pass-beam has been added to facilitate safe over-taking in daylight (a feature available only on the up-market Suzuki Fiero). Other additions include a trip-meter, chromed rear-shock absorbers, common steering-and-ignition lock, new look speedometer and new colours.
Interestingly, the fuel tank of the new Caliber boldly displays the Kawasaki name that stands out in comparison to the diminutively small Bajaj logo on top it. Could this mean that the Big B is going all out to promote its technical affiliations with Kawasaki, maybe at the expense of diluting its own brand equity?
Anirban Mozumdar, account director, Chaitra Leo Burnett (BAL's advertising agency) says it is not as simple as that. "In the entire industry, whether it's Bajaj, Hero Honda or TVS-Suzuki, a debate has been going on about which name to leverage at whose expense. We felt that since Kawasaki had huge equity, not only in India but all across the globe, why not showcase Kawasaki's quality in Bajaj products. Does it dilute the Bajaj equity? Not really, since this currently applies only to three bikes (4S, Boxer and Caliber), and anyway, select new techno products which will be launched by Bajaj Auto will eventually come under the proposed 'Planet Bajaj' umbrella."
Makes sense. Take TVS-Suzuki, which launched its latest 150-cc, four-stroker as the Suzuki Fiero, without the TVS being visible anywhere. With the much-hyped (Kawasaki / Bajaj) Eliminator launch just over a week away, and the subsequent launch of the Pulsar performance-bike (in technical collaboration with 'Tokyo R&D'), also from BAL, it will be interesting to note which bike comes with what prefix. However, what is certain is that this whole new range of motorcycles is bound to push BAL's motorcycle market share from the current 25 per cent to somewhere around 30 per cent.
For the time being, both client and agency are busy finalising a new campaign for the new Caliber, which should break by the third week of November. What remains to be seen is whether the consumer will accept the price-hike.
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