Bajaj Auto became the first large auto player to launch an electric two-wheeler with the launch of Chetak. The launch also marks the resurrection of Chetak, a brand that was put away for more than a decade (after Bajaj Auto exit the scooter space), and is now being revived.
In today's post, we take a quick look at the EV two-wheeler space in India, discuss what works in brand revival strategies and what doesn't, and conclude by taking a stab at what Bajaj Chetak marketing, branding and distribution strategy seems to be.
Electric Two-wheeler space in India
The two-wheeler EV game in India is heating up, with Bajaj beating TVS to the game with the launch of its electric two-wheeler Chetak. The scooter will be launched commercially in Pune, with Bangalore following suit, a path which Ratan Tata backed Tork Motors will also be following for their two-wheeler motorbike as well. The two modes of the scooter will give 85 and 95kms per charge in city conditions, a pretty good deal for intracity travel.
What will grab the attention of the slightly older souls in the room, however, is the brand name: Chetak. The quintessential middle-class possession immortalized by the ‘Humara Bajaj’ jingle. Which got me thinking about bringing back brands from the dead, and how it can be done right.
In recent times numerous brands have made a comeback. Mahindra and Mahindra reviving Jawa with three new bikes and Parle reviving Rola Cola after twitter and 10000 other folks on Twitter started a campaign requesting its return are just two of many firms who have brought back great brands.
Brand revivals: What works and what doesn't?
We begin by looking at what works. And the first most obvious answer is nostalgia. Nostalgia is extremely powerful in the impact it has on human psychology counteracting loneliness, increasing a feeling of connectedness, and actually feeling an increase in self-esteem (in part because you feel connected with the larger world reminiscing about the past together, and in part, because you make the past to be better than it actually was in your head.) Social media makes the trend stronger with the power of social proof. What’s better than you missing the taste of Rola Cola, 10000 people on twitter missing it with you.
The second reason and this stands true with Bajaj, is the feeling of trust that the brand evokes, trust that has been cemented over decades. Electric vehicles are still new to the Indian populace, and getting them to pay upward of 100K for a scooter will be an uphill battle, irrespective of the long-run cost benefits. The brand strength and trust that Chetak brings to the table in the scooter world will certainly help people feel a bit more comfortable taking the plunge.
Now coming to the factors that might go wrong or backfire while relaunching a brand. The most important factor here is dealing with change, and being cognizant that the cohorts who purchased your brand a few decades back might no longer be in the market for your kind of product. Your brand may have been phenomenally popular at the time it existed, and you have the trust and some residual brand equity in the cohort you served, but the customers you come to address today would, in all likelihood, be new. This is especially true with brands like Chetak for example, where the overlap with the users who used the old Chetak scooter and want to buy a new EV scooter would be negligible.
In cases like these it is necessary to maintain a bit of your original brand ethos, but move with the times, and mould your product to cater to the needs and wants of your potential customers.
What is Bajaj Chetak's Marketing & Branding strategy?
The Bajaj Chetak uses the perfect combination of retro design and modern features (digital dashboard, LED lighting) to capitalize on nostalgia while also reaching young users. As the first large Auto player to enter the EV space priced at an attractive 100K, and having the benefit of a wide dealer spread, the Bajaj Chetak seems poised for success.
About the Author: The post is written by Ganesh Nagarsekar. Ganesh is a graduate from IIM Calcutta and has worked with J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, before founding GSN Invest.