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Hero Passion: Bridging the gap - in style

By , agencyfaqs! | In Advertising | February 07, 2001
Basing its communication on style, the Hero Passion is tapping into the consumer's desire for a stylish bike. At stake is the segment between the Splendor and the CBZ

N. Shatrujeet
agencyfaqs!
NEW DELHI

There is a very fundamental difference between the average Indian scooter buyer and the typical Indian motorcyclist. The former bases his purchase decision on the functionality the scooter affords, while the latter is prone to go for performance and styling - which translates into 'image'. And the hardcore bike man makes no bones about this.

Interestingly, this image fixation seems to be gaining in appeal. "One reason why more and more two-wheeler consumers are opting for bikes is because there is a feeling that riding a bike makes you look smarter," says Navroze Dhondy, CEO, Percept Advertising. "It's all a function of people becoming style conscious."

In fact, style consciousness is the key consumer insight that helped Percept and Hero Honda Motors freeze on the brand positioning of the newly launched 100-cc Hero Passion. "The technical parameters of almost all bikes are a given," says Dhondy. "So we asked ourselves, what else is the bike consumer looking for?"

Consumer insight showed that style ranked pretty high. "In bikes, styling was seen as essential, so the entire communication for the Passion was developed from that point of view," Dhondy reveals. Even the line 'When style matters' was worked around one consumer's response - "style matters".

"We had a stylish bike - a great looker," says J. Narain, deputy general manager - publicity, Hero Honda Motors Ltd. "And when we saw that there was a large section of bikers who were looking for style, we decided to get across the message that here was style in a 100-cc bike." Narain maintains that while the consumer rationale for buying the Passion is always there, the company consciously chose to project style, rather than focus on the tech-specs.

The commercial for the brand, which broke in the third week of January, shows the Passion 'catwalking' on a ramp amidst thunderous applause and frenzied paparazzi. "If you notice, in the commercial, the Passion is born in a camera before it makes its way down the ramp," Dhondy points out. "And the commercial ends with a shot of a guy astride a Passion gracing the cover of a magazine called Style Matters. All through the commercial, we have used metaphors that communicate fashion and style."

"Even the print ads for the Passion takes cues from the world of fashion," Narain adds. "The mauve, green and orange colours connote haute couture." The campaign for the bike focuses on the line 'Born in a studio, not in a factory.'

The Passion's core target group is the 20-to-30-year-old male - the 'preener' segment, as Dhondy calls it. But one vital question is, why would this 'preener' settle for a Passion when he can go for what is perhaps an even more stylish bike - the CBZ?

The price, for one. The showroom price of a Passion is Rs 48,000. The CBZ wears a Rs-64,000 tag. And as Narain points out, the Passion does not work on the one parameter where the CBZ scores - performance. The CBZ has a displacement of 156.8 cc, while the Passion is, at the end of the day, a 100-cc affair. And while the CBZ packs a maximum power of 12.8 ps@8000 rpm, the Passion can muster a power of 7.5 ps@8000 rpm, at best. And one could run out of fingers counting every CBZ feature.

"The Passion is a middle-of-the-road, 100-cc bike… like its stablemate Splendor," says Narain. "So it is unfair to compare it with the CBZ." That does not prevent Hero Honda Motors from marking a rather expansive competitive territory for the Passion. "The Passion competes with LML's Adreno, the Bajaj offerings (including the Caliber), and to some extent, with the Suzuki Fiero too," Narain says. And he concedes that the Splendor too will feel some of Passion's heat.

Hero Honda Motors - which sold 275,164 bikes in the quarter ended December 31, 2000 (the corresponding figure for the same quarter in 1999 was 198,541 units), and posted a quarter three turnover of Rs 850 crore - is looking at a 25,000-unit sales figure for the Passion by March 2001.

An ambitious figure, considering the bike made its debut less than a month ago. However, the company is certainly banking on Percept's advertising to help bring home the bacon. And initial reports have gone in Percept's favour. "The commercial has been very well accepted," avers Narain. "It's early days, yet, the general opinion is that the advertisement is quite in sync with the product."

Advertising effectiveness aside, the Passion might very well succeed, as it promises to bride the gap between the hardworking, value-for-money Splendor (showroom price Rs 46,000) and the 'aspirational' CBZ-Fiero bracket.

© 2001 agencyfaqs!