Tuesday, October 10, 2006


THE BLASTOFF: Those who believed that the industry is moving towards the executive & premium segment, and that the economy segment is losing its shine, need to necessarily shift to euro 10 norms, pretty fast! Kalpesh Parekh, AVP, Equity Research, rejoins, “Companies can’t afford to neglect the economy segment. They need to have a dual model strategy. They should work on the economy segment for rural India and executive, premium segment bikes for the urban India.” Furthermore, in this rolling fiscal, Indian two wheeler space, especially the urban markets, will be driven by a technology revolution. Not counting the new bike launches, which occur faster than how ‘KK’ serials change on Rupert Murdoch’s cable channels. Evidently, two-wheeler gods & kings will be battling for the technological edge, even in the new launches. Hero Honda has already launched a fuel-injection model with 125-cc Glamour F1. The technology will be a brand new experience for Indian consumers. Closely on the heels of Hero Honda, Bajaj too is gearing up to launch the 200 (plus)-cc Pulsar armed with the world beater DTS-Fi (digital twin spark-fuel injection) technology (as opposed to the DTSi). Being successful with these truly innovative products will be the real test of mettle for both the emperors. Indian bikes for sure were due for a major electronic and technical overhaul, more than just mere cosmetic makeovers. But the biggest worry for both these companies would be, are Indian consumers getting so rich that they might just skip buying bikes (and shift to, say the Tata Rs.1 lakh car)? Well, all we know is that the scooter industry’s already dead... Long live

Friday, October 06, 2006

Christening your next new handset

Numbering game’s passé; it’s time for the ‘naming’ game, and then some more!

What’s in a name? Everything! Ask cellular handset makers in India, and the answer’s bound to be just that! And not without reason. The eye-popping success of the Moto RAZR series in India that is pulling up the sagging fortunes of the American handset-maker in the country, is a case in point. Lloyd Mathias, Director (Marketing), Motorola (India) believes that: “People do not understand confusing numbers and fundamentally, names arouse more response from target audiences.” The rave response to Motorola’s Moto RAZR, Moto PEBL, Moto SLVR, and the more recent, Moto ROKR series is reportedly also inspiring other handset makers to abandon their penchant with boring numbers and alphabets to name their snazzy models.

Till date, Nokia with a 79% share of the Indian market had in real terms exploited the Indian cellular handset freaks that could not resist its 3310, 3315, 1100, 2300, 6610, 6600, 7610 and other numbing numbered series. But perhaps today, think-tanks at the Finnish major are asking a question to themselves – can we fight competition better if we ‘name’ our handsets, instead of using plain vanilla digits for classifying the handsets? The answer is obvious by their announcement of naming their brands hereon.

Says Keith Pardy, Marketing Head (Global), Nokia, “What you will see coming from us in the future is not just a numbering system, you are going to start seeing names that carry a meaning and are important to consumers.” Call it piggy-backing on the innovative branding moves of their competitors or simply being copy-cats, the company has certainly realized that customers all around the world identify themselves with and respond well to product names that carry some connotation.

So have they already given shape to this plan with the Nokia 8800 Sirocco Edition launched recently? Or maybe they now believe that numbering their handsets make them unique, and hence have settled for a judicious mix of a name and a number to begin with! And come to think of it, there is an emotional connect when it comes to names and it’s more fun. There also comes a sense of ownership and style declaration with names. Digitally advanced all right, but ‘names’ unquestionably make the whole affair more palatable.

But then, why have strange sounding four-letter names... SLVR instead of Silver, RAZR instead of Razor and ROKR and COCKR in places of God knows what! “Consumers don’t look at these names in an abstract manner and therefore our four letter names are worked out accordingly to convey a message to consumers,” explains Mathias. Seems those guys out there did get the message. Or else why would Moto rave about its resounding success? Or why would other handset-makers latch on to the bandwagon? Why indeed!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

We’re choking on the emissions!

The sunny state of California isn’t feeling particularly kind these days. The state has announced that it is going to sue six US and Japanese automakers (it’s a first of its kind legal battle in the US). And why? Because these six were contributing to global warming, that’s why. The offending parties are: Chrysler Motors Corporation (an arm of the Germany-based DaimlerChrysler); General Motors Corporation; Ford Motor Company; and the North American subsidiaries of Japanese carmakers Honda Motor, Nissan Motor and Toyota Motor.

These companies, charged the suit, are “among the world’s largest contributors to global warming and the adverse impacts on California.” The state’s Attorney General Bill Lockyer said that “global warming is causing significant harm to California’s environment, economy, agriculture and public health” and that the impacts are already costing the state millions of dollars and the price tag is increasing every passing day. If you jog your memory cells, you will remember that the state is led by Republican actor-turned-Governor ‘Terminator’ Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is at loggerheads with US President George W. Bush over environmental issues.