'Triumph will be the benchmark for even commuter bikes in India'

'Triumph will be the benchmark for even commuter bikes in India'

'Triumph will be the benchmark for even commuter bikes in India'
Triumph Motorcycles, the 116-year-old iconic British brand is pretty young in India. But has already managed to grab a large share of the luxury bike market, along with a special place in the hearts of discerning customers and enthusiasts. Charting the eventful four years of the brand in the country, Triumph Motorcycles India Managing Director Vimal Sumbly tells DH’s Hrithik Kiran Bagade what sets the motorcycle-maker riding strong against the competition.

Triumph has grown rapidly in India. How has your ‘bike ride’ been in the country?
We launched Triumph Motorcycles in India on November 28, 2013. We are the first to launch 10 models across five broad categories on debut.

Triumph is committed to India. As per our study, we were sure that India would become one of the largest markets going forward, and we thought of bringing everything at par with the world to India. We are not bringing something to India which is one off, but rather products which are — at par technology, at par safety, and at par features.

We started our Indian retail operations from Bengaluru in January 2014. Karnataka is close to our heart. Bengaluru is among our largest markets in India. Over a period of time, in the last three and a half years, we have over 14 stores in India today. Our product range has become 16, across five categories. Adventure biking was new to India, and we introduced the Tiger.

In three years, we’ve had over 4,000 customers in India, making us one of the fastest growing luxury motorcycle manufacturers in the country. Selling 4,000 bikes in price-band of Rs 7 lakh to Rs 23 lakh in India is not easy. Triumph is a brand that created this niche market and is trying to stand on it.

What do you mean by niche market, considering that there are many players in the luxury motorcycle space today?
To be precise, there are 15 players in this segment in India. There is no motorcycle brand which is not available in the world, that is not available in India. There are two positives; one, India is going to be a large market, so everyone is here. Now within this market, if you look at the large two to three players, then the larger portion of the market is between the top three players — there is Harley, Triumph and Kawasaki, whose collective market share is a whopping 75%.

What is the size of this market in India?
If you see the 500 cc+ segment, in 2007-08, this industry’s size was only 400-500 motorcycles. If you check SIAM’s figures last year, and also include the brands that don’t report to SIAM, then this industry was 10,000 units. By 2020, I expect it to double.

In FY14, the full motorcycle industry in India grew by 2%. In the same period, the 500 cc+ industry grew by a CAGR of 26%. Within this CAGR, Triumph grew by 64%, so we became one of the brands that is increasing this industry. As a whole, Triumph has become one of the fastest growing luxury brands in India.

We operate in the 500 cc+ and Rs 5 lakh and above segment, where we dominate a third of the market at 30%, selling about 1,200-1,300 units a year.

How did you manage to get the Indian game right?
You need to have a long-term vision. I don’t think India is a place where you can play a short-term game, because the Indian customer wants to have a long-term relationship with you, he wants to buy something which is long-lasting, and he wants to be with a brand that is reliable and is able to keep up to its promise. As a brand, we came to India with a strategic vision — in terms of product line, we got a CKD assembly plant into India, we grew our dealership network overnight. Ensuring that we are close to our customer, today, we’re broadly present in all major towns in India. Another part of our strategy was affordability, and we were the first brand to bring in financial options.We also provide training to customers to understand what their bikes are capable of, and also to help them learn to ride them safely. By 2020, we will have 25 dealerships in India. The nine new outlets will be tier II and III-focused.

What was the psychology when you were facing the risk of aggressively launching in a nascent market?
India then was a new market. Triumph is a 116-year-old brand, operating out of 55 countries in the world. Off course, India was the 56th country, and came with its own challenges. But we knew how to make the brand successful, what the Indian customer wants.

Triumph was the first bike to have 100% of its portfolio with ABS as a standard. Today, competition is gearing up for it. In terms of technology, our bikes have ride-by-wire, traction control, AHO, rider modes. India has diversity of weather and these features help customers ride safely and comfortably everywhere. In few years, I’m sure, Triumph Motorcycles will be the benchmark for even commuter bikes to follow.

Are you hinting at plans to launch commuter bikes?
No! Today, in terms of luxury bikes, the riding culture is improving. Weekend rides happen, and people are riding their luxury steeds to work and everywhere else, much like commuter bikes. What I am saying is that through these luxury brands, there is also pressure from customers on the commuter segment to improve technology, beyond utility.For a mass segment product, it requires to sieve through features and arrive at a choice. But almost all luxury players offer the same kind of goodness.

What is your differentiator?
Our differentiator is that we bring technology to the forefront; rider-focused technology to be precise. Anything that we do in terms of design, is in the rider’s perspective. We bring in the lifestyle angle, accessorisation, customisation, clothing — everything is there through a package. All our dealers are bikers, who are passionate about riding. We are creating a culture, we are more like a startup. And how a startup faces challenges, we also face the same.

As a ‘startup luxury motorcycling giant’ in India, what challenges do you see?
Challenges are in terms of ‘where should you be first — metros, Tier II or Tier III? We chose our path clearly. How to make bikes affordable, with high-end technologies? It is also a challenge to recruit new dealers and seek trained manpower. For the industry, it is challenging. Multiple things coming in simultaneously, like the demonetisation for instance. Of course, it hits the market in the short time, but for the long term, it’s good. Triumph attracts both types of customers — one is the highly passionate with lots of money, and the other is also the highly passionate but with affordable aspirations.

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