Call it Girl Spice. Suddenly two-wheeler makers are cranking out products and strategies to woo a brand new niche - women! With marketing aggression in fourth-gear, two-wheeler companies are looking to broaden their consumer base. And offering products and services specifically to suit the femme faction is the first step towards creating a new consumer profile.
The latest to join the ladies special bandwagon is bike market leader Hero Honda. Its 102 cc gearless scooter Pleasure is targeted at the women members of the 13.5m households that currently use Hero Honda products.
“For the time being we are focusing on this segment only with our scooter product,” said Hero Honda MD Pawan Kant Munjal. “We intend to build on our huge base for the 100,000 units we have targeted for the scooter segment,” he added.
The niche push comes with some product and marketing focus as well. “The Pleasure is loaded with a number of pro-women features because we believe women have become an important segment and we want to widen our customer base,” Mr Munjal said. As for the buying experience, the company is setting up 24 dealerships, either standalone or with a segmented part which will be serviced entirely by women.
Arch rival Bajaj is also eyeing this segment, though with an existing product. “Our model, Wave, was based on intense market feedback and it was to meet the needs of the new age woman. We have received a good response and we expect by October we will sell more than 10,000 units,” said S Sreedhar, VP, Bajaj Auto.
Estimated to be a Rs 700-800 crore market, gearless, light scooters are increasingly becoming the mode of communication for college-going girls. Unsurprisingly, more and more two-wheeler makers are looking at this market with interest. But the scooter roll-out is a relatively new phenomenon - so far, most of the women-centric products have been scooterettes.
The pioneers of femme focus was Kinetic whose Luna scooterettes started the trend three decades ago. “If you look at the urban population, nearly 15-20% of the total two-wheelers driven around are scooterettes. With 4-5 lakh scooterettes selling every year this segment has definitely gained importance today,” says Sulajja Firodia Motwani, joint managing director, Kinetic. Women commuters have taken a fancy to the light weight, sleek scooterettes which are easy to drive and the segment is growing robustly.
TVS's Scooty pep+ launched last month was also targeted at women. “Even though the population of women commuting on the road is just 3%, the segment will expand especially with so many players with their pro-women portfolio,” said Prasad Narsimhan, VP-marketing, TVS.
Of course, two-wheeler makers agree that all gearless scooters are not used by women alone. Indeed, most models are also driven by men and elderly people. “Even though it's difficult to say how many gearless scooters are used by women alone, for they are driven by many others in the same family, there is no denying the fact that 50% of all gearless scooters are driven by women,” adds Motwani.