Royal Enfield & The Art of Leisure Biking

Think of cruising along the open highways to get off for a couple of days. Reason – Well, assume that you are bored of the week’s hectic activities. What’ll be the bike you’ll choose? I would always prefer setting off on a Royal Enfield ThunderBird. For me, if it’s a cruiser, it has to be the ThunderBird. Do I have you all with me? I take the answer optimistically.  But, why am I talking about all this. To answer you, that is what the post is all about.

Mr. Siddhartha Lal, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Eicher Motors said recently, “Royal Enfield has come a long way and we are now moving into a space of being much more of a leisure brand.” Note that Eicher Motors owns Royal Enfield.He also tries explaining the fact that leisure and luxury need not have to go hand in hand. He claims that not all Royal Enfield bikes are used for cruising and leisure rider, but a lot of bikes are being used by the customers for city rides and regular commuting too. “It has become a practical leisure bike and that is our position as a result,” he told Business Line in a recent interview.

According to a recent news article in Business Line, ‘The foundation for leisure biking was laid at Royal Enfield a little over a decade ago when Mr Lal and his team were trying to figure out what the company was all about. They looked at commuters, different sizes/categories of bikes and finally, realised that there was no point competing with the (then) Indo-Japanese bikes but, instead, creating an individual space for Enfield.’ Mr Lal said, “Even though a number of aspects of the brand such as ride quality and fit and finish were not in the leisure realm, the basic DNA of commuting long distances was there all along. We took that DNA and expanded the scope, which meant everything else had to fit in right.”

There are many riders who consider Royal Enfield bikes as the most superior form of machines and we also have people who would die to own one. Commenting about this, Mr. Lal said, “For a large chunk of riders, they should aspire to own a Royal Enfield someday, which means it is up to us to make it an aspiration.”

There was a time when Bullets were considered to be the products for rural and semi – urban areas to an extent. Most of its business came from the states of Punjab in the North and Kerala in the South. But, we would be surprised to see the company’s trend presently. But what’s happening in the last 6 to 8 years is really stunning. Today, while sales still continuing to be strong in these two States, 60 to 80 per cent of the sales for the company come from the cities including tier – 2 metros. Apart from this drastic change, one more success factor for the company is that it is now taken to the youth segment as well where the company would find a huge potential in terms of its market share in a few years down the line.

Mr. Lal says, “Today, we are a brand that anyone should aspire for and be able to get his hands on, which is why I stressed that leisure is not luxury. Anyone who enjoys biking, regardless of his socio-economic background, and gives it top priority, is the person who should come to us.”

He also mentions that the company’s most successful branding activity – Himalayan Odyssey has turned out to be very ideal for a company like Royal Enfield. “It gets people to really enjoy the type of motorcycling which is part of our culture. This is the starting point of our branding efforts, which is all about rides,” he says.

The next strategic step on  the promotions front would be events like ‘Rides’ organized not by the company but by dealers to promote themselves. The whole idea of this concept is to integrate with the community and these end up becoming regular friends’ circles which is what the company expects too.

On the final note Mr Lal reiterates, “We do not have sports personalities or actors to endorse our bikes. I would rather flush my head down a loo than have someone who does not know how to ride a bike pose for my motorcycle. We do not want to build our brand this way.”

Very interesting!

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