The company has signed actor Salman Khan as brand ambassador to increase the visibility in the country. Salman’s association with SMIPL will begin with the endorsement of Hayate 110 cc with which Suzuki is looking at foraying into the seven million-strong mass commuter segment in India.
The Hayate is scheduled for launch later next month and will take on best-sellers such as Hero Splendor, Bajaj Discover and TVS Star City. Suzuki currently has limited presence in the motorcycle industry in India with GS150R and (150 cc) and Slingshot (125 cc). It has a market share of less than one per cent.
Atul Gupta, vice-president (sales & marketing), SMIPL said, “While the motorcycle market in India is growing, brand loyalties remain strong. We needed to break into the clutter by differentiating our products and marketing strategy. We decided to sign on Salman Khan as he is a strong fit with the value-packed products we have scheduled for launch in the India market.”
“Maruti Suzuki is a giant in India and people often compare us to them and are unable to imagine that Suzuki can also make two wheelers,” said Atul Gupta, vice-president (marketing and sales), Suzuki Motorcycles India. “It is a big decision to have Salman Khan as our brand ambassador and we think he will be instrumental in turning the tide in our favour.”
Suzuki is latest among two-wheeler companies to embark on a brand repositioning drive to consolidate its position in the intensely competitive motorcycle market in the country. Earlier last year the Munjals’ promoted Hero Group had spent close to Rs 175 crore on an image makeover exercise post the termination of its joint venture with Honda Motor Corporation,. Rival HMSI is now understood to have firmed up a Rs 100 crore-project to establish its individual identity in the hinterland, which accounts for over 45 per cent of sales for its erstwhile partner Hero MotoCorp.
HMSI is in the process of finalising its first brand ambassador in the country. While Hrithik Roshan endorses Hero’s premium motorcycle Karizma, Mahindra Two Wheelers had roped in Aamir Khan. John Abraham campaigns for Yamaha.