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India 2015: TOP 50 ANALYSIS | Q&A with Sumeet Narang

Technology, new regulations result in some new categories and additional sub-categories

In this environment, brand building becomes the biggest differentiator

Bajaj Auto is a leading manufacturer and marketer of motor scooters, motorcycles and commercial three-wheel vehicles also known as auto-rickshaws. It ranks number six in the BrandZTM Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands. 


Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future ofbrands in India over the next five years and why?

India is witnessing the emergence of several new categories and sub-categories. Many of them are a result of an evolution in technology, regulatory change or a larger ecosystem. This will lead to a proliferation of multiple operators with very little product differentiation or time lag.

A sudden growth of a category combined with scale, competition and little differentiation is one of the best environments for brands to prosper. The brands that connect with consistency will remain, while the rest will consolidate. Brand building will be the biggest differentiator and success driver for these players. Therefore, one can look forward to an action packed decade of brand building and brand innovations – with several old rules being broken!

What is the most innovative way you’ve communicated to customers recently? A new commercial or social media campaign, for example?

Our recent launch of Pulsar RS200 in the Super Sports segment has been a resounding success, gaining leadership status within four months. In a high interest segment like super sports bikes, where the customer likes seeking information about the product and forming his own opinion, you don’t hard sell. And neither did we.

We built the brand with strong and genuine conversations around it, using digital, videos and influencers. We have not even touched mass media yet. We wish we had warned our plant, which is working hard to reduce the month-and-a-half waiting period!

When you think about what you believe are great Indian brands, what qualities do they share in common?

All great Indian brands, old and new, have done a marvelous job of effortlessly (or so they have made it appear) changing over the last decade-and-a-half in line with the new consuming class. They have transitioned their stance to connect demographically as well as attitudinally with today’s young, migrant, middle class, hardworking, digitally-aware and fun-loving consumer.

Are there certain brand characteristics that are more critical for success in India than they might be in other parts of the world?

Trust and value – something that still hasn’t changed.

What is the key to reaching young people compared with reaching their parents?

Being ready to meet already aware customers and answering their intelligent questions!