Sunday, August 15, 2010

Is Bajaj Auto's decision to drop the Bajaj name from Pulsar & Discover bikes a wise one?


Maruthi G | IIM Shillong

“FAT BOB”, “SOFTAIL”, “FAT BOY”, “SUPERLOW”….do these ring any bells with you? Hint: These are super bikes or motorcycles as they are called as. Stop cursing me! These apparently derisive adjectives are indeed for names of motorcycles. This is what happens when I drop the all important prefix to these names…HARLEY-DAVIDSON! Pat yourselves on the back magnanimously if you had guessed it right without this prefix! But if this prefix was so very significant why would BAJAJ decide to do away with it and call that their new branding strategy.

When BAJAJ hazards the move of dropping the sacred prefix once and for all from its two wheelers, it is not without foresight! Two wheelers sans BAJAJ means Pulsar and Discover sans BAJAJ as these constitute 70% of their sales. This move wasn’t meant for India at all in the first place. They must be kidding if they were to tell me or for that matter any Indian customer that we would stop seeing Pulsar and Discover as from BAJAJ. From the stats shown above it should not take you long to figure out that they sell almost every third bike to a foreign market as exports! The fact is that Pulsar and Discover are brands looming larger than what anybody could have possibly imagined. The way I see it these could very well be the first Indian two wheeler brands, especially Pulsar, which could rule foreign markets as well. And it is only but rational that BAJAJ tries to build these as global brands deprived of Indian-ness. But what indeed is surprising is the timing of their move. Considering that they started their experimentation in advertisements nearly a year ago I am only happy that they did not wait for any propitious omen!


Amlan Mitra | SIMSR Mumbai

What comes to your mind when you hear the term “Hamara Bajaj”? Your answer probably is the 90’s advertisement that sold scooters to the middle class and instilled in them a pride to own something that personified the independent, self sufficient Indian.
Bajaj has been synonymous with the two and three wheeler industry for the past sixty years. The brand equity of Bajaj is the envy of many an Indian company. So when managing director, Rajiv Bajaj’s decision to drop the name ‘Bajaj’ from their popular auto products, Pulsar and Discover hit the news, there was understandable noise.
Mr. Bajaj would need to prove how the concept of cannibalizing the name that the company has grown with will help achieve customer confidence. There are many contradictions to his claim that the dilution of the ‘Bajaj’ brand in other sectors like insurance and electricals works against mentioning it with auto products. General Electric has its footprint in finance, consumer electronics, healthcare etc. Tata is inundated in sectors including steel, motors and information technology. Although these companies have been around for decades, they are still able to project themselves as contemporary and appealing to the eyes of the 21st century consumer.
The most important asset of a company is its customers’ trust. It is important for the management to lead by example and show faith in its brand. Today’s prospective clientele for Bajaj might be westernised and not fully aware of their earlier dominance. But if marketed right, it could attract them by resurrecting its brand power with modern communication strategies. A strong Indian brand associated with an impeccable product will stand the test of time as compared to a shiny new faceless product which is yet to connect with most of the country.

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