A slowing Indian economy, along with rising inflation and unemployment, suggest that the year ahead will be hard for marketers, but rather than resorting to promotions and discounts, Bajaj Auto is investing in brand building for the long term.

That’s a brave stance for a brand that has seen a sharp decline in sales in recent months; it posted a 14% drop in domestic sales in November, for example, despatching 176,337 motorcycles in the domestic market, against 205,259 motorcycles a year ago.

Despite that, the two-wheeler major has continued to expand its portfolio. This year it upgraded offerings like the Bajaj Dominar and introduced newer variants to its Platina, CT, Pulsar and Avenger bikes; it recently launched the Husqvarna, a premium Swedish brand in India, while also continuing to invest aggressively in the electric vehicle space.

Narayan Sundararaman, vice-president, marketing at Bajaj Auto, explained to WARC that the company’s outlook is grounded in the belief that the customer is going to purchase a motorcycle at some point in time.

“He isn’t doing so now because for various reasons he is being prudent,” he acknowledged.

“But the key point to note is that his brand choice is being made right now. He’s considering options – and is wanting to make up his mind now,” he said. (For more details, read WARC’s report: In 2020, India’s marketers must keep the focus on brand growth.)

Going forward, marketers in this space will be assessing the impact of the BS-VI fuel norms all vehicles in India will have to comply with by April 1, 2020, while tax reforms in the Union Budget that might spur spending sentiment will also be closely observed.

“From a marketing and brand-building perspective, you need to spend wisely; spend behind what the brand stands for,” said Sundaraman.

“And continue with the growth mindset,” he added. “You need to wear the business hat with the marketing hat. Do what you need to do to make sure the brand is front and centre.”

Sourced from WARC