Adding power to scooters

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing
Last updated : January 05, 2010
Creating a category it calls Power Scooter, Mahindra is betting on innovation to take on competition in a segment it has recently forayed into

There was a lot of buzz created as Mahindra & Mahindra took over the business assets of Kinetic Motor Company and forayed into the two wheeler segment, launching its two gearless scooters - Mahindra Rodeo and Mahindra Duro - in September 2008.

With a market that boasted of competition such as TVS Motor Company, Honda Motorcyle and Scooter India, Mahindra two wheelers were positioned around 'power', christening the category as 'Power Scooters'.

Geared scooters died a slow death and many hailed Bajaj Auto exiting the scooter segment as the end of an era. However, TVS Scooty and Honda Activa have continued their dominance in the gearless sector.

Mahindra two wheelers hence chose to offer its unique positioning of power to be noticed in a competitive market.

"We did a lot of market research in a bid to understand consumers better. What we found was that consumers are looking at power and exclusivity, not so much in the physical sense but being seen as a powerful rider," says Devendra Shinde, vice-president, marketing, two wheeler sector, Mahindra & Mahindra.

"If you look at the competition, no one is really talking about power. It is either targeting family or the fairer sex. So we looked at the consumer and competitive perspective. We also looked at the heritage and lineage of our parent brand. Power is also entrenched there with Mahindra's success in the SUV space," Shinde explains.

With the launch of Rodeo and Duro, Mahindra had three gearless scooters in its portfolio with Mahindra Flyte, the only product from the Kinetic stable that it chose to continue with.

To keep up with competition, Mahindra is betting on innovation with snazzy features in its scooters. While Rodeo comes equipped with features clearly to catch the youth's eye, Duro is positioned as the entire family's vehicle.

The company has a tie up with Taiwanese scooter manufacturer SYM, with which it has a technology licence agreement. Engines Engineering, a design boutique firm in Italy that is also a part of the Mahindra Group, also works on the two wheelers.

Creative power

With a teaser campaign that announced the company's foray into the segment, two more television commercials of Rodeo and Duro, created by Interface, were launched in October and November respectively.

"We have tried to do a complete 360 degree campaign. We have supported television with print. We have also used outdoor and innovative marketing," Shinde says.

Among the innovative strategies used were advertising in malls and coffee shops and even on train tickets, which Shinde says was a cost effective way to reach the target audience.

In-film placements were also done. The Flyte is featured prominently in the recent Hindi blockbuster, 3 Idiots. Mahindra also associated with the recent Lakme Fashion Week, where designer Kunal Rawal showcased a unique collection inspired by the Mahindra Rodeo.

Robby Mathew, national creative director, Interface tells afaqs!, "We wanted to puncture stereotypes that scooters were a daddy's thing and a son would not be caught dead on one."

The Rodeo commercial features a male actor performing stunts one would normally associate with motorcycles, while the Duro TVC shows a young couple on the scooter chasing a car whose passenger had just littered the street.

"It was a pot shot at conventional thinking. We wanted to show scooters as cool and responsible things. The stunts and the dramatic chase was just to show that while you can do all that with the scooter, you do not necessarily have to do it. 'Doing the right thing' was the core message," Mathew says.

Incidentally, Mahindra two wheelers was also the first client Interface took up in the segment. The brief was pretty simple - to position power scooters. "We did it by showing that power is not about doing ridiculous things. If I have a 2000cc bike, I would not necessarily merely race on the street with it," says Mathew.

He does not deny that initially, there were doubts about the acceptance of a brand that is known to produce heavy vehicles. A specific imagery was created to fight the same.

"It was about getting the 'powerful' values of Mahindra into two wheelers," Mathew explains.

Road ahead

Still the new kid on the block, Mahindra is looking at achieving double digit market share at the earliest.

"Our market share is currently about 7 per cent. We would like to increase it faster and the earlier we reach double digit market share, the better it is," Shinde says.

In the New Year, the company plans to further foray into the motorcycle space, which is currently in the development and testing phases.

Mahindra two wheelers has its manufacturing facility at Pithampur near Indore, while its research and development unit is located in Chinchwad, Pune.

First Published : January 05, 2010

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