Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 5800
, Published on 30 September 2012
‘Bullet 350’ – the name itself is enough to cause Goosebumps amongst its most loyal followers. The bullet, an iconic brand is one of India’s oldest bikes. Owned by the Royal Enfield brand, it is present in over 40 countries and has fans all over the World.
Bullet almost has a cult status in India something enjoyed by Harley Davidson and Volkswagen Beetle in other parts of the World and has a dedicated legion of followers.
A colleague of mine, a bullet loyalist who currently owns a Bullet Classic 350 earlier owned a Bullet Machismo which he says he had to sell off due to problems in the bike. Bullet owners find it extremely hard to part ways with their bike unless there’s absolutely no way out. They don’t consider it merely as a means of transport but as a lifestyle enabler and an extension of their personality.
Bullet may not be one of the most comfortable bikes to ride on the crowded roads of Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore. But every Bullet loyalist would agree to the fact the once you drive a Bullet, it’s hard to switch to another bike.
Also there’s a high co-relation between the person’s obsession with the Bullet and his/her father’s love for the same. The love for the bullet is often passed on as lineage from generation to generation. Often bullet owners have felt the magic for the thump as kids when their parents or elders in the family got home a bullet.
The Indian army was amongst the first customers of the Bullet and thus the earlier users have defined how the brand is perceived now. The Bullet rider is considered to a person holding a position of power such as an Army Officer, a Policeman or a father – as the head of the family. This makes the bullet truly aspirational among the boys and something for which most guys would want to covet.
Designing brand communication for such an iconic brand is always a challenge since the right mix of portraying heritage and legacy vs modern well equipped machine has to be chosen. The Bullet has always been associated with independence, self expression, power and passion. Even the marketing campaign ‘Leaving Home’ focussed on the same aspect as it showed a boy cutting his umbilical cord to ride his dream bike. The brand communication was based on the insight that many young men stay at home for too long missing out on the fun of an independent life.
While the ‘’Handcrafted in Chennai’ campaign stressed on the fact that each Bullet vehicle had a unique character and was specially handcrafted. It tried to pay a tribute to the people who build, sell, ride and maintain these machines and to the city where these machines are born.
[Image Source: http://www.indiancarsbikes.in]
To keep users engaged with the brand, Royal Enfield organizes adventure filled, fun and leisure motorcycle trips all around the year with Himalayan Odyssey being the most prominent. There are long waitlists of enthusiasts wanting to go on such trips.
Royal Enfield also comes out with the quarterly Royal Enfield magazine and an annual Royal Enfield Ride calendar. There are 2 special Royal Enfield coffee table books with one of them dedicated to the Himalayan Odyssey.
Another factor which has contributed immensely to building the Royal Enfield and the Bullet brand is the clubs. It is one of the reasons for the cult brand that Royal Enfield is today. The first Royal Enfield club was started in Dec 1995 and since then a lot of similar clubs have evolved all across the country. These clubs are also a major reason why people want to own a Bullet so that they can be a part of one of these coveted clubs.
The Bullet currently has a waiting period of up to six months. But the company seems to be heading in the right direction with a new plant expected to be commissioned soon which would increase the production capacity. Also with the launch of biking gear, Royal Enfield is following a strategy similar to that followed by Harley Davidson. The entry of Harley Davidson in India would help build the category in India and Royal Enfield would a major beneficiary of this since it is the market leader in this segment of bikes.
Gul Panag’s wedding in 2011 saw one of the craziest baraats ever when the actor and her family zoomed to her wedding venue on Royal Enfield bikes. Even women dressed in Indian attires drove Royal Enfield bikes. It was truly band, baja, baraat and BIKES!