An online countdown began a few hour prior to the unveiling of Royal Enfield's much-awaited Thunderbird 500. On the sidelines of the launch of the bike and a new 350 cc model, Campaign India caught up with Shaji Koshy, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Royal Enfield, for more on the new launches.
What’s the value that the two new bikes add to the Thunderbird stable?
Shaji Koshy (SK): As a company, we are always looking to satisfy the needs of our customers. The Thunderbird customer was always looking to get on to highways on his bike. This was the need for which our first Thunderbird was launched in 2002.
Now, when we did our research, we realised we needed to create a bike for the highway cruisers which is far more suited (for the purpose) than the older bikes. So, what we did was create a cruiser which our customer can drive on any road in India without having to worry about fuel pumps or anything else. Safety was also taken care of with the disc brakes and a LED light. With this, we definitely feel we can extend our segment and satisfy the customer. We have also launched an apparel range for the bikers.
Which cities are your major markets for the bike?
SK: Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Mysore, Bangalore and Coimbatore. These are the markets where the IT segment is booming and people in this segment are having high pressure jobs. They need something to help them escape the pressure, and the Thunderbird provides them that freedom. Maharashtra contributes about 15 per cent of the sales, and is our largest market.
We saw a YouTube banner ad leading up to the launch on 11 October, with a countdown to the launch. What other efforts will be undertaken?
SK: The countdown ended with a link to the main YouTube ad through which we are trying to build the bike as an ultimate highway cruiser. We will be playing this ad heavily on YouTube and other digital media. Social media will also be utilised in the campaign. The YouTube film has been created by Wieden+Kennedy. 22feet handles our digital duites.
What is the sales target for the two new launches?
SK: We are currently selling about 1000 Thunderbirds in a month. We will not be able to put a number on what we expect with the new launches, but with this we hope to take the brand to the next level. With the new 500 and 350, we will definitely be able to satisfy more needs of the Indian consumer.
How many dealers do you have in the country? Any expansion plans for this with the new launches?
SK: Yes. We had 140 dealerships in 2009, which has increased to 237 currently. We never keep a target for the next year, but I can confidently say we will be increasing our dealership network. We are looking for the right entrepreneurs with the motorcycle instincts; those are the people we will appoint as dealers. We are looking for people who can promote motorcycling in India. In Maharashtra, our most active market, we currently have 20 dealerships but should add 10 more really soon.