This is my second post in recent times on the automobile industry in India. While I talked about the superbike dilemma the last time, this time I want to share my thoughts on the actual Рcurrent battle of the bikes going on between the supposed hero number one, and whom I think is the real baap (hindi term, for big daddy) of two wheelers in India.

Let’s leave names aside for the moment, because the point I want to make is not really about the two companies, but about how companies can go completely wrong if they don’t think right, or get the right marketing advice. I want to talk about how belief systems, and individual styles can make or break a company. (And how on earth can anyone with millions of rupees to spend on marketing and advertising, not have this basic commonsense in place!?).

Enjoy the ride, this is how it is, with two companies in the same business:

  • Both started out as family owned two wheeler manufacturers, long before liberalization appeared in the Indian lexicon.
  • Both were owned and run by patriarchs, who were bloody good at making their products, and going about their business.
  • Both were very successful, and respected by the industry.

Cut to: the last 5-7 years.

  • One patriarch has handed over the reigns to his younger sons. One still keeps the reigns to himself.
  • One hires professional marketing and advertising agencies which are “very different” in thinking from them. One hires a bunch of agencies that are “like minded”.
  • One gives its agencies a free hand and trusts their judgement. One makes every campaign a pitch between all its agencies.
  • One company’s agencies come out with fresh and new ideas. One company’s agencies are always second guessing what the company wants, in order to get the business.
  • One company has a variety of strong brands in its portfolio. One company is struggling to find variations of the one product promise it invented 20 years ago.
  • One company is clearly a winner in consumer minds. One company is ahead in sales, but just about.

Who do you think will win in the long run and become the brand of the future?

Note 1: Thinking shown above, is standard equipment in a professional setup. The results of actual marketing efforts however, always depend on individual riding styles.

Note 2: I have no vested interests in either of the two companies at the moment. I have however competed against both, on behalf of a third company in the very, very distant past.

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