Tuesday, February 26, 2008

TVS, where dost thou go? (Part-3)

Alright, so the Chennai High Court verdict has gone against TVS. Consequence: TVS can't produce and market TVS Flame in its current shape. If the engine is replaced (rather rendered in a way that it isn't seen as theft of Bajaj's patented technology) then, of course it can still sell Flame. It's a dampener surely for TVS. This gives me one more opportunity to take a dig at TVS's marketing strategy; though, only for its good.

I've been watching more Apaches on the road. They are also more noticeable and better representatives of TVS; Apache is a good product (mind you, not brand; I said 'product') to say the least, or that's what I make out from various magazine reviews, that's what I make out when I compare it to earlier products like Fiero, and Victor etc, that's what I make out when I compare it to other products in the same category.

Apache has also helped improve TVS's market share. In its category, it's second only to Pulsar! Wait, wait. But then how many other brands are there? Achiever, Unicorn, Hunk... Any more?

Marketing men responsible for marketing Apache and the agency (or agencies) responsible for devising the 'brand strategy' for TVS Apache would like definitely like to feel good for themselves - Apache has succeeded coz of them. I am sorry; Apache worked in spite of their strategy! I would like to think that Apache worked solely because it is a good product and, because there was no great alternative other than Pulsar to look forward to in the 150cc category. And so people voted for the Apache; anti-incumbency factor, you call that in Politics. Though note that, Pulsar hasn't been dethroned; so the anti-incumbency factor is only restricted to Politics. Markets are ruled by brands and categories they can believably stand for.

Cut to the point. The current campaign says 'It's now or never'. Say what? What does it mean? How does that represent the bike, the brand Apache? Yes, there would be some convoluted, layered explanation for that line. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Pulsar says 'Definitely male' - amply clear. What's 'now or never'?

Observe Apache and Pulsar a little carefully and you might find a few differences. Or if you haven't observed but read the biking magazine reviews, you would have read that Apache is slightly smaller in size, both in seat height and length (wheel-base) - nothing negative about it though. Also, it looks 'more' compact. It is said to have more power (in 'bhp'; I am not a technical person, so hope you get the point). Also, TVS has a good racing pedigree. Many of its racers and bikes have won national motorcycle racing championships. In fact, it also has a training school for racing.

Marketing men often try sounding and feeling intellectual; nothing wrong with that too but if it comes at the cost of ignoring the obvious, then it can hurt.

In my earlier post (Part-2) of this series, I had suggested three positioning options for TVS. Here's the fourth:

Compact Race Machines

Alternatively, we can just say,

Race Machines

Straight, direct, impactful and converts the so-called negative 'small size' (if it is thought to be a negative) into a purposeful positive attribute. Why 'race'? Coz that's the ultimate arena for performance bikes. Also, it is a silent acknowledgment of the status quo (Pulsar is first, Apache is second) and yet a rebellious powerful intent (come on Pulsar, let's slug it out). It's a challenge. No harm in acknowledging the status-quo and still standing upright. Remember, we like the underdogs (in fact, we relate to them, don't we?) who have the guts to fight it out. Anti-incumbency factor (external) + an inspiring intent (internal) is a deadly combo.

That's too direct, say the marketing men! Then, let me coin something abstract but reflecting the same thought as above:

Packs a Punch!

Let's be honest. Doesn't it sound better? Doesn't it accord a better position to Apache; a position that would justify the beauty of the product and give it the due commercial success? In fact, it offer a strong platform for TVS's future bikes too.

Unsolicited but with good intent.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Read a quote in one of the posts on Mr. Pawan Munjal, CEO, Hero Honda Motors says, "We have focus on all the three segments and more and more on the premium, the youth and on the youngsters."

Amazing how conveniently we can use the word 'focus'. The news is, I repeat, that Hero Honda is going to focus on all the three segments! All the best.