Thursday, February 02, 2006

Hero Honda and Pleasure

Hero honda, the motorcycle manufacturer who incidentally manufactures the single largest selling model (the Splendor) of motorbike has launched a 100 cc scooter targeted at women. It goes by the name Pleasure.

Hero Honda was the baap of the market with its CD-100 and its now famous "Fill it, shut it, forget it" campaign. Those were the times when the country was recovering from Bajajs scooters. With the window opened to foreign colloboration, the 4 stroke Hero Honda CD100, 2 stroke TVS Suzuki AX100 and the (legendary) Yamaha Rx100 were the new horses in every bikers stable. Times changed over the next 15 years.

Bajaj changed itself from a fuddy duddy scooter company known for its Chetak to the company known for the Pulsar. TVS moved away from Suzuki and launched its Fiero and now plan to move to Indonesia. Hero Honda launched its CBZ, but it was beaten to a pulp by the nimbler, powerful and fuel efficient Fiero and Pulsar. Bajaj and TVS in the meantime expanded their portfolio to include better and more efficient bikes, but Hero Honda went back to the drawing board and could come up with no better than CD100 SS and Splendor something (rehashes as you can imagine from the name). They launched Passion and Ambition, two other bikes both of which lacked the idea that their names conveyed. Honda too launched its operations in India with the superb Activa and Unicorn that comes with Honda reliability. Kinetic motors, the original variomatic company, too launched its Nova, which if not as smooth as the Activa is a pretty good machine.

Hero Honda is not really known for innovation as much as sitting on its laurels. With the base of its bread and butter models the stage was set for the company to do something spectacular. Both Bajaj and TVS have done so on their own right, but HH to me, is a fuddy duddy. The launch of Pleasure does nothing to change this perception. Note that I write this without riding Pleasure. Whats the big idea in marketing a scooter to women? Especially when there is nothing "different" about it? The variomatic segment has a solid performer in Activa, stylish Dio, good looking Nova, youthful Scooty and now a women only Pleasure?

I think Pleasure has got its strategy wrong. By saying women (and only women), they are losing a good part of the market. Now, no young college lad will ever buy it (they do buy variomatics, it is not only women who drive variomatics). I am not saying marketing to women is wrong, but I would go the Scooty way with a Preity Zinta, subtle yet leaving the positioning as "youth". Scooty does have some smart features too. Why will a girl buy Pleasure? Whats the compelling feature in it? There are many things that can be designed to appeal to women in a bike like this, but this is just hollow marketing.


Hiren said...

The marketing does seem somewhat off target and you are right about hero honda not exactly being an innovative company but maybe its a wild, thinking out of the box move. Supposing it succeeds, then they really have the measure of pleasure. I don't think very many guys would mind taking up the rear.The word is a little odd but maybe they thought of it to change their image after they based up the workers shamelessly in the strike a few months ago.

Anonymous said...

that honda is not this honda. This is hero honda and that honda is HMSI.

Anonymous said...

You should check out the to-be-launched kinetic BLAZE.
thats whats exciting ..

Not this pleasure, activa, nova stuff, no offence intended for respective mfg cos .

But the BLAZE is really cool. big, powerful, so so comfortable, italian designed. A real beaut!

Anonymous said...

This refers to the comments made by Neelakantan on Hero Honda and its products.
Neelakantan has gone awfully wrong on the company and its strategy.
Hero Honda today has carved out an unassailable lead over its no 2 competitor Baja Auto. The lead is 1.0 million bikes. (hhml - 3.0 mio, bajaj - 2.0 mio) this does not happen just like that...Hero Honda products splendor, passion, cd dlx, super splendor are all leaders in its class. (sales). ie leaders in all segments - entry and deluxe which consists of 90% of the market.
Neelakantan - a hero honda hater would do much better to restrict his comments to himself.

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