With a falling market share Hero MotoCorp is getting ready to launch four new bikes in the 200-300cc segment within the next 18 months. The auto major is planning to sell through new premium dealerships to make a marked shift from its image as a mass-market commuter brand.
Sources told Mint that the company is also planning to retail a new range of accessories and merchandise through premium dealerships. It is still not clear as to whether Hero will own the new outlets or follow the franchise model.
“It could be a mix of dealer-owned and company-owned outlets. The plan is to start with a limited number of outlets in select metros and then gradually expand to other cities,” sources told the paper.
Hero is predominantly known for its mass-market, commuter brand of motorcycles. However, over the last six years, sales have dropped, putting a strain on its market share. In 2011-12, its market share in the domestic market was 45 percent, which has dropped to 36.56 percent as of March 31.
“Hero currently wants to focus on the 200-250cc segment and then gradually scale-up towards the 300cc space,” the source told the paper.
Growing popularity in sport and performance bikes and rising disposable incomes in India's middle-class has led to increased sales in motorcycles, with engine capacities of 200cc and above. In 2011-12, while the number of units sold in that category was 220,000, 2017-18 has seen that number rise five-fold to 1.02 million units.
The commuter segment, with engine capacities of up to 125cc, saw a growth of about 39.5 percent to 2.19 million units in the same period.
To promote the brand further, Hero is stepping away from its five-year-old stance of not using cricket sponsorships and branding and instead focusing on other sports such as hockey, shooting and athletics. However, the report said the company has hired Virat Kohli, Captain of the Indian cricket team, as its new brand ambassador to promote its new sales network and merchandise.
“A high-decibel, multimedia campaign will be rolled out featuring Kohli and the Xtreme 200R over the next few days,” the source told the paper.
Of the four bikes lined up, the XPulse and Xtreme 200R have already been showcased. The Xtreme 200R is slated to be launched next week.
Hero's planned premium dealerships will retail helmets, riding gear, jackets, shoes, denims, chinos, leather bags, wallets and sunglasses, it stated, adding that the upcoming two-wheeler expo EICMA will feature some of the accessories.