It’s not always that the boss is as candid as that. However, when I met Viren Popli, Senior VP, Strategy and Market Development, Mahindra Two-wheelers at the Duro preview ride in Lavasa near Pune, he didn’t mince his words. It isn’t simply a case of bravado; M&M acknowledges it got a bloody nose with its hasty approach the first time around. Now, it’s a case of cautious optimism, but the company is still bullish about the Indian market. Read on for the best bits gleaned from that conversation.
AJ: How do Mahindra Two-wheelers position itself in the Indian market today?
VP: The answer is simple: We want to be a product and marketing driven ‘technology’ company. We have a number of R&D collaborations internationally. We can draw from the best inputs from around the globe to make our products both technically the best and appealing to the consumer.
AJ: Will the new Duro DZ replace the Duro, or will both products continue to be sold side-by-side?
VP: Both the Duro and Duro DZ will be sold across India. For the Duro DZ, we tapped our customers in numerous emerging markets in Tier II and Tier III cities. We got feedback from people in places like Patna, Ludhiana, Mysore, Ahmedabad…we’ve improved the Duro DZ significantly. You’ll be riding it now. You’ll see that the new Duro DZ is a kick-ass product!
AJ: The Stallio was stillborn…
VP: No, I wouldn’t say the Stallio was stillborn. Stallio was a learning experience for us. The problem was that we didn’t get the right feedback before ramping up production. We don’t want to re-invent the wheel, but you will see the Stallio again soon.
AJ: How do you see the Indian two-wheeler market evolving?
VP: Take the four-wheeler market as an example. The 4-wheeler market in india today is fragmented beyond recognition. The 2-wheeler market is poised at the same point as the 4-wheeler market (was) 10 years ago. We will look at addressing the needs of this fragmented market. For me, the question is clear: “How do I create new niches that become big segments?”
AJ: After a big launch, we haven’t seen or heard anything about the Mojo yet.
VP: You know, the Mojo established the Rs 1.5 lakh segment for Indian motorcycles. We need to take calculated risks, and with the Mojo, there is still time for the market to mature for a product like it. You’ll see it in some time…(smiles).
We can draw parallels between the smartphone market and high value bikes. We don’t want to be the first. We want to be really good.
AJ: What do you think Mahindra 2-wheeler’s strengths are vis-à-vis the competition?
VP: We know the rural market better than anybody else. Our brand is very strong and well-established with consumers. So, as we gear up, these are definite strengths.
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