Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kaun 'Videocon'? The power of a brand name

This post is a short one. When business grows, the brand name starts assuming a god-like status-and-mention in the media. This of course gives a hedonistic feeling to label and sell every possible product under the same brand. There could be many other reasons but the one mentioned is good enough to explain many many brand extensions we see in the market place.

Our home-grown conglomerate Videocon is one such example. But what makes it stand out is the fact that the brand name is 'Videocon'. Isn't it apparent that 'video' in 'Videocon' stands for visual entertainment products? Clearly, being one of the first-movers in the Indian entertainment products industry, Videocon came up with a good brand name for its televisions and also for, now-extinct VCRs, and CD and DVD players. However, to put the same on washing machines, tape-recorders, micro-wave ovens and air-conditioners is not just preposterous but also downright suicidal.

That's quite a statement to make for me but that's the power of a good name. Applied at the right places, it works. But apply it to something that's not a match and you kill yourself. Videocon's share in the market in most of its product-categories has been going down and one of the big reason is its branding strategy.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Kinetic Flyte - how is it flying?

The scooter above is Kinetic Flyte and the one below is Honda Dio. Instead of Honda Dio, I could've taken any other scooter too. But Dio serves the purpose better.

Have you observed Flyte on road? It's 125cc and yet looks so diminutive - from the front as well from the back. Contrast it with any other successful 100cc scooter and you would think that Flyte competes with the Scooties of the world. On the other hand, also observe Kinetic's launches especially among scooters - Kinetic Nova, Kinetic 4S, Kinetic Blaze... Most notably the latest, Kinetic Blaze. It's unarguably the biggest scooter launched in India till date. When it comes to two-wheelers in India the cubic capacity i.e. cc is often positively correlated with the actual size of the vehicle. Greater the cc, bigger the scooter. In light of that, Kinetic Flyte seems to be an aberration - considering the competition, considering its own launches and considering the popular perception.

Am not sure how well Flyte is doing, the trend in two-wheelers, both motorcycles and scooters, hints at preference for bigger-looking vehicles. I wonder after the launch of Blaze why Kinetic launched a diminutive scooter like this one. 125cc is just right segment but the size doesn't match the cubic capacity.

160cc Apache RTR FI launched

Here's what the The Economic Times says:

Aiming to strengthen its presence in the premium segment, country's third largest two-wheeler maker TVS Motor Company on Monday launched an advanced version of its bike Apache fitted with fuel injection engine, priced at Rs 64,990.

The new bike Apache RTR FI would come with an 160 cc fuel injected engine.

"The fuel injection technology deployed in the RTR FI gives the motorcycle crisper throttle response and enhances its fuel efficiency," TVS Motor Company Head (Marketing) HS Goindi said.

"The company has strengthened its presence in the premium segment with this launch and we are planning to introduce two more products in this segment by the end of this year," TVS Motor Company General Manager (Marketing) K Ramakrishnan said.

The launch hasn't raised my eyebrows really but the last two lines have. Two more products in this segment by the end of this year! Now premium segment would mean 150cc and above. So which of these will we see in the market - Apache 180cc, 200cc, 225cc, 250cc or beyond? Or are we only gonna see one main launch like a 200cc and the other launch could be a variant, like we have for Apache 160cc? Let's see.

Now my personal views about 160cc Apache RTR FI. Will it be a seller?

What's the competition? In the sub-200cc Pulsar, Hunk, Unicorn & R15. Comparison can be done on various fronts. While R15 is in its own league, the other three lack the much glorified fuel-injection. So? Apache 160cc has a lead in that department. And? Apache has been the best-styled bike (yes, to my mind, better than the much hyped Flame) from the TVS stable. And yet it doesn't really impress in comparison to Hunk and Pulsar (even now). Anticipating that Bajaj is gonna launch something really market-shaker in this segment pretty soon, I doubt Apache RTR FI will do much to change the status quo.

A good bike but... All the best TVS.

Monday, July 7, 2008

R15 - A Motorcyclist's Muse

Yes another post on Yamaha R15. Can't help it. Capped off a wonderful Saturday with a visit to the Yamaha showroom in Vikhroli after watching Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na.

While I was aware of the Yamaha dealer in our vicinity, it never really occurred to me all this while that the showroom would have R15 on display. So when I saw the R15s from a distance while on my way to the cinema hall, I decided to visit the showroom when I would be on my way back.

To say that I was already in a good mood (because of the movie) which made my first-hand experience of R15 so cool would be an injustice. Even though I didn't get the test-ride, I could convince myself of the quality of this bike in every sense of the word. I switched on the ignition and revved the bike and rpm needle just swerved smoothly and quickly to the other end. The engine sounded so refined. And the bike felt rock-solid in spite of being so light. The stance without any doubt is sporty. The best part is that the size of the bike doesn't seem to overwhelm the rider; many people after reading a few reviews think that the bike is diminutive. In stead, the bike is just the right size to be sporty and at the same time give a feeling of total control to the rider. Don't you recall the same about RX100 and RXZ135?

Well, that in a nutshell was my experience. Would've liked a test-ride definitely. I'll buy it soon nonetheless.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

R15 Wallpapers

I must buy one of these after the rains. Both look stunning. The oil prices are going up every day and the price of this bike is no less, and yet, these pictures simply fuel my desire. Have to have a test-ride soon.

Anyway, I wish so much there were an R15 in red too!!! :)

Friday, July 4, 2008

New Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twinspark 350cc

That's the new Thunderbird Royal Enfield has launched. If you had noticed the earlier one, you would be able to spot the differences. The makers claim that the engine is 'revolutionary'. They call it Unit Construction Engine. The engine is gonna keep all the pleasure of the earlier Bullets intact and add a little more in terms of better fuel efficiency, better maintenance, better working clutch (and therefore, lesser visits to the mechanic. In fact, that's the reason I sold my Machismo 350 in Dec last year). It also seems that bike is more powerful than the earlier 350cc Bullets.

My personal take is 'got for it'. This seems to be best bike launched by Royal Enfield for decades. Why? Simply because the new engine design has resolved many hopeless complications of the earlier engines which marred the Bullet experience. Purists would frown as they've always done with the launch of every new Bullet. But my sense is that this bike might win them over after all. Yes, the ones who want the vintage/retro Bullet feel can continue to rue the evolution; I'm happy.

It's neater too; observe the change they've made in the back-rest fitting for the pillion rider. They've made the silencer also a little safe for the riders; won't burn you anymore.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Honda CBF Stunner 125

Honda launches CBF Stunner 125. A look at the recent bikes certainly suggests that motorcycle companies are realizing the importance of good looks even in the commuter bike segment. This is by far the best looking two-wheeler that HMSI has launched in the country. Can put Dio also in the same league but not the Aviator.

This bike looks far far better than the 125cc Shine (of course, Shine wasn't meant to really impress I think). It generates 11bhp@8000rpm and also touches 60kmph in 5.2 seconds. Not bad I would say. It's got traces of Hero Honda Karizma; in fact, a very important feature of the design is that the front panel, which includes the headlight, speedometer et al, isn't attached to the swing handle. I think, therefore, that bike would be amazing as far as handling is concerned. It's also a first in 125cc segment in India. Unicorn's engine has proven to be a very refined one at all speeds, so we can expect the same from this one.

A welcome introduction by HMSI. Hope it does well. For Yamaha, it gets tougher even with the upgraded new Gladiator.