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Atul Gupta

AVP, Sales & Marketing | 10 Aug 2006

India is a key market for Yamaha. From a manufacturing and production perspective, the cost efficiencies available in India is extremely competitive when compared with other markets. Keeping this in mind, we will be launching at least one new model every year for young urban customers and provide them with a true Yamaha riding experience. The products will be at least three years ahead of competition in terms of styling, performance and features. We aim to triple our market share by 2010

Biking is no longer only about mileage, power or style. It has to have a whole new zip, a pep that elevates the riding experience to pure pleasure. Since its inception in 1982, Yamaha Motor India has constantly evolved its approach to give the consumers better and efficient technology.

With Atul Gupta as Associate Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, the two-wheeler major has chalked out an aggressive growth plan. Gupta, who began his career in 1984 with Escorts Ltd, has 22 years’ experience in the two-wheeler industry.

In 1986 he moved to TVS Motors, where he was for a decade, before moving on to HFCL in 1996. Gupta joined Yamaha in 2004 as Chief General Manager and assumed his current post of Associate Vice-President, Sales and Marleting this year.

In conversation with exchange4media's Pallavi Goorha, Gupta shares his views on the Indian two-wheeler market as well as the marketing plans and campaigns around their new bike the Gladiator.

Q. Yamaha seeks to be a brand for the young. How do you propose to go about that?

Our marketing strategy is based on the philosophy that the customer is supreme. Following that, we provide our customers products and services that are beyond their expectations. With Gladiator being the first product in a series of exciting new launches for the youth, we aim at creating a new biking lifestyle that will make Yamaha a cool brand among youngsters in India.

Q. Please elaborate on Yamaha’s ‘Life Rocks’ campaign?

With the launch of Gladiator, we unleashed the ‘Yamaha Life Rocks’ teaser to rally the youth around a bike brand that drives a young lifestyle with attitude. Various rock bands were roped in to play live music near Yamaha hoardings at the DND Flyway and Ansal Plaza in the National Capital region. Each hoarding was covered with removable strips, which were peeled off one at a time to reveal Yamaha’s new lifestyle brand.

One such instance was the road show at Ansal Plaza. The whole of Delhi was swinging to Euphoria’s ‘Life Rocks’ concert. The event was India’s first ‘Flash Rock’ concert organised by Yamaha as part of the launch campaign for Gladiator. People were invited via SMS just a couple of hours before the concert began.

The campaign sought to create a world of Yamaha and project it as a lifestyle brand for the young. We believe that our products have a huge appeal for the youth who seek performance and the pleasure of a great drive with technology that is ahead of competition.

Also, as part of our national campaign to promote the Yamaha Gladiator, we held test drives in more than 40 cities and towns. We held road shows covering high traffic areas, markets and malls. We also put up installations across all dealer outlets. The test drives in each city culminated with a live rock show.

Q. Are you planning to launch international favourites from the Yamaha stable like the R1 and the V-Star in India in the near future?

We perceive a growing market for all products of Yamaha in India; we are currently in the process of evaluating the demand for Yamaha superbikes and will introduce high-powered bikes in India depending on the market trends.

Q. Brand Yamaha got a big boost after self-confessed biker and youth icon John Abraham began endorsing it. What promotional activities have you lined up with him?

To start with, we have tied up with shampoo brand Clinic All Clear for a contest as it merges quite well with our brand. John Abraham is the brand ambassador for both the products. What makes the contest unique is that this is for the first time in India that a co-promotion strategy involving two brands has been implemented. In keeping with the youthful image of both the brands, we have launched this promotional campaign. It works on the theory, “If you have cool ‘baal’ (hair) and own a cool ‘bike’, pretty heads are sure to turn”.

Consumers can participate in the contest by buying a Clinic All Clear 100 ml or 200 ml bottle. Then they can SMS CAC to 455 or call a toll free number 1901-2334455 or log on to www.clinicallclear.com or get the contest forms from any HLL super value store, answer a question and state a unique nine-digit code printed at the bottom of the Clinic All Clear shampoo bottle. The grand prize is a Yamaha G5 bike.

Q. What is the future of the two-wheeler market in India?

The Indian two-wheeler market has undergone tremendous growth in the past few years. With development of infrastructure and changing lifestyles in India, the industry is expected to grow to over 10 million units by 2010. This is not only a great opportunity but also a challenge for us.

Q. Do you think launching different models will affect the sales of existing ones?

No, it won’t. I feel it makes sense to launch models as customers keep looking for something different and new. It creates a healthy competition.

Q. What, according to you, are the features of a good motorcycle?

A good bike surpasses a buyer’s needs and gives them a great ownership experience. The attributes vary depending on a user’s need as some look for performance while others are mileage conscious.

Q. How is the Gladiator different from other executive bikes in India?

Gladiator is a sporty bike providing the Yamaha experience of superb handling and excellent riding comfort. The bike has a new generation 125cc four-stroke engine, which offers great pickup as well as superior mileage. With its new five-speed transmission (first on any executive bike), driving in the city as well as long distance cruising has become easy. It has a BS type carburettor with YTPS, which offers a smooth throttle response, optimises mileage and controls emission. The high rigidity diamond type frame and square type rear arms offer a stable and enjoyable ride. The long stroke front and rear suspensions guarantee a smooth comfortable ride. The aerodynamic headlights offer the multi-reflector technology, while the combination of tail light and indicators reflect style.

Q. Are you planning to launch two-wheelers for women?

We are currently focusing on motorcycles as they constitute more than 80 per cent of demand in the automobile market. But we are also targeting the scooter segment and changing customer preference from geared scooter to automatic one and as soon as we feel the time is right for us, we will launch our global products.

Q. Media reports indicate that you plan to invest Rs 150-200 crore over the next three years to expand capacity and launch new products. Comment.

India is a key market for Yamaha. From a manufacturing and production perspective, the cost efficiencies provided in India is extremely competitive when compared with other markets. Thus, not only do we see India as an opportunity for the growth of the company the domestic market, but also as a global sourcing base for complete units and parts.

We have a three-pronged strategy and are carrying forward the global standards set by Yamaha in YMI – strengthen the image of Yamaha as ONE brand and execute unique and innovative marketing activities towards this objective.

Product development – Introduce and develop products that are targeting young consumers and are at least three years ahead of the competition in terms of features, style, performance and technology.

Marketing Activities – Do exciting, unique and innovative marketing activities, which are closer to the lifestyle of the young consumers. Through these, our customers will have interesting experiences. By focussing on these we aim to triple our market share by 2010.

We will be launching at least one new model every year. These new models will target young urban customers and will provide the true Yamaha riding experience.

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