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Yamaha plans to open 100 Blue Square outlets by end of 2021

Yamaha Motor India
Yamaha Motor India

Interview with Ravinder Singh - Sr. Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Yamaha Motor India Pvt. Ltd.

How many Blue Squares have you opened in Chennai and what is the target by end of 2021 for both Chennai and Tamil Nadu?

We have opened 3 Blue Square shops in Chennai and 6 overall in Tamil Nadu. By end of this year, we plan to have atleast 26 Blue Square shops in Tamil Nadu out of which 12 will be opened in Chennai.

Ravinder Singh
Ravinder Singh

How has the 2-wheeler industry recovered post pandemic and what are the reasons?

The two-wheeler industry struggled in the first half of 2020, but it showed an upward trend in the latter half. The overall two-wheeler industry sales reported a de-growth of around 23 percent in 2020 as compared to 2019. You should also note that the auto industry witnessed a slow growth in 2019 as well and had reported a de-growth of 19 percent compared to 2018. To reach the mark of 21 million units of 2018, it is going to take few years.

What I can confidently say is that we are on the right track and with the industry adopting the innovative sales & marketing strategy, we might get closer to the 2018 mark very soon. The pandemic has brought about marked changes in consumer habits and behaviours of the customers. The customers are now preferring shared mobility options as people prioritise social distancing and personal hygiene. Also, the industry has adopted digital and internet-based activities to reach out to the customers. Now, customers have the option to book the vehicles online, pay online, test ride the product at their doorstep and have it delivered at home as per their convenience.

In 2020, Yamaha too announced various online activities and initiatives to provide customers an enhanced buying experience and personalized customer services (One to one service). The first initiative was the introduction of the user-friendly website with online sales facility called Virtual Store. The Virtual Store is equipped with features like 360-degree view of the products along with the specification comparison between Yamaha Products bundled under the Buyers Guide option on the website. We also made available the Yamaha merchandise on Amazon so as to help customers buy their attractive riding apparels and accessories easily.

The Yamaha dealerships also provided their support in promoting the contactless delivery and used digital communication tools like WhatsApp etc. for communication with the customers during pandemic, which helped us remain connected with our customers.

How has been the performance of Yamaha in the past months and plans for 2021?

Yamaha witnessed strong sales in the 2nd half of 2020. Yamaha began with a 4 percent year-on-year growth in July 2020 and reported positive sales growth for six consecutive months. It helped us register a total-sales of 5.04 lakh units in 2020.

Yamaha plans to open 100 Blue Square outlets by end of 2021

We would like to continue with the same momentum and strategy to achieve our annual domestic target of 7.80 lakh units in 2021. We will emphasize more on the digital medium to promote our brand in the Indian market especially in 7 metro cities and the surrounding districts. We will also continue to organize the on-ground activities which will provide an opportunity for the customers to test ride our products and be more aware about its features.

In December last year, we launched the Test Ride My Yamaha which aims to create awareness on the Yamaha’s stylish scooters and sporty motorcycles. Through this campaign, we want to reach out to every potential customer who wishes to ride a Yamaha product and experience its latest technologies and features.

We are also working aggressively to open more Blue Square outlets in the country to provide our customers an enhanced buying experience at our dealerships. Till 2020, we have already opened 20 outlets and by end of this year, we will take this figure to 100.

Our focus is to strengthen our position in the premium segment through a strong product portfolio of 150cc & 250cc motorcycles and 125cc scooters. We have also introduced “another exciting chapter” of style and excitement in India with the “colour order system”. This is a unique initiative wherein patterns can be created with existing colour combinations for vehicle body and wheel that will help develop an entirely new look and appeal of the same two-wheeler. The “Customise Your Warrior (CYW)” campaign launched in 2020 for MT-15 is the first part of the colour order system. We will continue to drive the “strategic effort” with other products in 2021.

Yamaha plans to open 100 Blue Square outlets by end of 2021

What products, segments are driving growth and Yamaha’s focus to strengthen position in the segment?

We hold a strong presence in the premium space and one of our strengths is the strategically planned product portfolio that consists of two-wheelers for all riding possibilities — new riders, experienced riders, riders seeking the finest technologies or advanced controls and adequate safety features. Our focus for the year continues to provide best experience to the consumers through our exciting, stylish, and sporty products. Yamaha will continue with “The Call of the Blue” strategy that embodies the global spirit of motorcycling culture.

We will adopt and introduce the latest technologies and advanced features in our existing models but at the same also work towards launching new models which fits the customer’s riding preferences, and which adds value to their lives.

How important is South India market particularly Tamil Nadu state for Yamaha? Plans for the market.

South Zone which includes states like Tamilnadu, Karnataka, AP, Telangana, and Kerala contributes to almost 45 to 50 percent of total Yamaha sales.

In 2020, we had sold a total of 5.04 lakh units out of which 1.14 lakh units were sold in Tamilnadu. Tamil Nadu contributes to almost 20 to 25 percent of the total Yamaha sales.

Tamilnadu has been a very important market for us as it offers a huge opportunity for us to grow and further strengthen our position in the 150cc segment for motorcycles and 125cc segment in scooters.

We are planning a series of internet-based engagement activities as well as the on-ground activities like COTB Fiesta, Test Ride My Yamaha activity, Fascino 125 FI Cavalcade etc. to expand our reach in this region. Though due to pandemic, we have postponed our on-ground activities now and are completely engaged in promoting our products and campaign digitally. In addition to this, we are also planning to create awareness and visibility about our brand and its global racing image through uniquely designed showrooms – Blue Squares.

What kind of products sell in these states and why?

Though both our scooter and motorcycle models are quite popular in South India, but our scooter models have slight edge in terms of sales. Last year, we sold 54 percent scooters and 37 percent motorcycles in the South region. Our 125cc scooter models – Fascino 125 FI, Ray ZR 125 Fi and Street Rally are equipped with advanced features and latest technologies like Side Stand engine cut-off, the Stop & Smart system and UBS technology etc. Be it in terms of performance, mileage, safety or utility, Yamaha scooters have emerged as one of the top choices among the customers.

Similarly, Yamaha’s motorcycle models have a cult following since many decades. Currently the sporty commuters like the FZ FI and FZS FI, streetfighters like MT-15, race machines YZF-R15 Version 3.0 and refined quarter liter class like FZ 25 and FZS 25 are well equipped to meet the aspirations of India youth who are passionate about riding, touring and adventure.

What is the concept of Blue Square? How many stores do you have in India and plans for next 2-3 years?

Blue Square is a unique concept-driven showroom that institutes Yamaha’s racing DNA of excitement, sport & style. The concept is focused towards revving up customer experiences in the company showrooms through vivid aesthetics, inspiring propriety created out of Yamaha two-wheeler line ups and engaging offerings. “Blue Square” is coined to fit into the legacy of Yamaha’s role in global motorsports with “blue” characterizing the brand’s racing DNA and “square” defining a one-stop buying junction. It serves as a communication spot for customers in accessing various information along with exploring the accessories and apparels, thus fulfilling every requirement of a motorcycling life.

Currently, we are having 20 such outlets across the country and by end of 2021 we want to have 100 such outlets pan India. In next 2-3 years, we plan to open 300 Blue Square shops across India.

Yamaha plans to open 100 Blue Square outlets by end of 2021

How many Blue Squares have you opened in Chennai and what is the target by end of 2021 for both Chennai and Tamil Nadu?

We have opened 3 Blue Square shops in Chennai and 6 overall in Tamil Nadu. By end of this year, we plan to have atleast 26 Blue Square shops in Tamil Nadu out of which 12 will be opened in Chennai.

What is overall footprint of Yamaha on pan India basis in terms of dealership and customer touchpoints? Can you share details of South India and Tamil Nadu? How you plan to strengthen?

We have a very strong network of 1900 customer touch points across India which includes 281 in Tamilnadu. In Chennai, we have close to 50 customer touch points.

As I told you, our complete focus is to provide the customers with premium experience right from the moment they enter our showroom. Blue Square outlets are going to play an important role in transforming the customer experiences in Yamaha showrooms and establish a strong connect with the new lifestyle of the motorcycle and scooter audience of the country.

South India is a very important market for us and we plan to expand our network with more touch points in this region so that our products, accessories and apparels are available to more and more customers. Right now, we have to close to 700 customer touch points, and we plan to increase it to 800 by end of this year. Also, we will be opening 50 additional Blue Square outlets in South India offering an enriching experience to our customers and fulfilling their every requirement of motorcycling.

What are the new demands & trends that you are witnessing in customer buying behaviour?

The pandemic has brought about a drastic shift in consumer buying habits and behaviours. In the last one year, we have witnessed that increased preference for personal mobility over shared and public transportation. Due to social distancing and personal hygiene, many customers who were not thinking of owning a vehicle are now considering buying vehicle and are now one of the most potential buyers due the necessity that the pandemic has posed. Similarly, many customers have increasing preference of engaging on online platforms for vehicle purchase and servicing and to know about various added features of the product.

We will continue to reach out to our new customers under “The Call of the Blue” brand direction. We will emphasize more on the digital medium to promote our brand in the Indian market especially in 7 metro cities and the surrounding districts. We also started this year by organizing the on-ground activities like COTB FIESTA, TEST RIDE MY YAMAHA CAMPAIGN, FASCINO 125 FI CAVALCADE in order to provide an opportunity to the new customers to test ride our products and be more aware about its features but due to the ongoing pandemic situation we have postponed these activities for now.

The Test Ride My Yamaha campaign aims to create awareness on the Yamaha’s stylish scooters and sporty motorcycles. Through this campaign, we want to reach out to every potential customer who wishes to ride a Yamaha product and experience its latest technologies and features. We are also organising Fascino 125FI Cavalcade activity in metro cities and through we want to increase visibility of Fascino and create awareness about the product features and utility for customers.

Our focus is to strengthen our position in the premium segment through a strong product portfolio of 150cc & 250cc motorcycles and 125cc scooters. We have also introduced “another exciting chapter” of style and excitement in India with the “colour order system”. This is a unique initiative wherein patterns can be created with existing colour combinations for vehicle body and wheel that will help develop an entirely new look and appeal of the same two-wheeler. The “Customise Your Warrior (CYW)” campaign launched in 2020 for MT-15 is the first part of the colour order system. We will continue to drive the “strategic effort” with other products in 2021.

In addition to this, the Virtual Store and availability of Yamaha apparels and accessories on Amazon will also support in acquiring new customers.

Yamaha plans to open 100 Blue Square outlets by end of 2021

Any plans for EV, New Products this year?

Undoubtedly, Electric Vehicles is the future of automobile sector and has a very high potential in long term. However, its success will solely depend on the available infrastructure, affordability, and acceptability by the customers. India can achieve success only through a clear roadmap, stable policy, and proper planning. Currently, there are bigger challenges related to investments in infrastructure, charging stations, battery production and swapping infrastructure for electric vehicles.

We already have a dedicated team at our Headquarters in Japan who are working on an all-new electric vehicle platform for India and other global markets. We already have been manufacturing EV models in Taiwan since last two years in association with Gogoro. So, having said this, I want to tell you that we have the technology and the expertise to develop and manufacture EV models. But at the same time, we also need to consider many factors like pricing, performance, and infrastructure before we roll out any products for the Indian market. We want to be sure that once the customer’s buys a Yamaha EV product, he should not face any issues related to charging, battery swapping or service.

We are contemplating on all these factors now. Once, we have worked on all these areas, we may introduce EV models for the Indian customers.

Regarding launch of any new products we will let you know at an appropriate time.

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