Bajaj Will Count on Discover for Numbers and Not for strategy

The Discover could be clocking big numbers in the commuter segment, but Bajaj Auto does not intend to make it the centre of its bike strategy going forward. “It may be the volumes leader in our business and it is equally likely that the Discover 150 could overtake the Pulsar 150 someday. Despite this, the Discover is not our strategic focus. It is only the quantitative, and not qualitative, centre. The left brain pursues everything quantitative but that is not the reason for success,” Mr Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, told Business Line.

As he put it, product thinking comes from the left brain area (which is logical) while brand comes from the right (creative, artistic and intuitive). “When we think product, we think of price because people buy what they can afford,” he said.

On the contrary, the right brain brand argument respects the specialist and lends itself to premium positioning. “If a person keeps himself narrowly focused, common sense will tell us that he is limiting himself when he is actually expending himself and is doing that one thing very well,” Mr Bajaj said.

According to him, any successful strategy has to start from niche where it breaks new ground. This is what worked with the Pulsar in 2001 and, some years earlier, with Hero Honda’s Splendor which made Bajaj Auto’s scooters almost redundant overnight. Likewise, added Mr Bajaj, the Discover would not have succeeded in the commuter segment had it preceded the Pulsar.

The same rub-off effect is expected in the near future when Bajaj Auto rolls out the new Pulsar and KTM bikes from the same platform. “Tomorrow, when people ask who makes the Pulsar, the answer will be the maker of KTM. In cars, the Skoda buyer knows that this is the same company that makes Audi. This will pretty much be our thinking in bikes,” Mr Bajaj said.

‘Specialisation is sacrifice’

Specialisation is, therefore, the key to strategy and this has been the Bajaj Auto mantra ever since it hit paydirt by focusing on the mileage commuter and sporty segment with the Discover and Pulsar. This marked a complete turnaround from the past when there were a slew of products but success remained elusive.

“In all my presentations, I make the point that strategy is specialisation and specialisation is sacrifice. Strategy is nothing but sacrifice. The idea is to be a minimalist and understand that less is more. This helps create the aura and mystique,” Mr Bajaj said.

It will be interesting to see how long the Pulsar and Discover brands will help sustain this vision for Bajaj Auto. Experts say it is also not entirely clear how the Boxer, due for launch in the coming months, fits in with the overall strategy. Indications are that it will be positioned towards the lower end of the value pyramid.

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