Bullet gets new lifestyle extension

by 25 Sep 2006


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A Royal Enfield Bullet in an upmarket, lifestyle store! Sounds a bit disconnected and unconventional, doesn’t it? But this is what Mumbai woke up to one rainy day in August as the cult motorcycle found itself as the centre of attraction at Good Earth’s showroom in Mumbai as part of the Esprite Nomade collection.

So what is the connection between the venerable motorcycle and a luxury retail store? Plenty, according to Simran Lal, director, retail. “The Esprite Nomade collection is about travel and escape, and it is about a state of mind. When you talk of getting away, there is one product that comes immediately to mind: the Royal Enfield Bullet,” she says.

RL Ravichandran, CEO, Royal Enfield, agrees that there is a fit. “The Bullet has always enjoyed cult status. It appeals to a wide cross-section of people , and is a timeless product. Its association with the Esprite Nomade is a perfect brand fit,” he says. Point well taken, but even then it is a bit incongruous to see the rugged motorbike in a setting that is quite off its regular milieu. Too see the much-admired workhorse standing guard outside a satiny-white tent that’s crammed with luxurious furniture is a bit startling, to say the least.

Simran acknowledges that people are initially taken aback at seeing the Bullet inside the store, but quickly accept the concept once the subtle connection sinks in. “It has created so much excitement and everyone is talking about it. Reactions have been positive, and some people have even asked us if they could buy the bike. We, of course, pass on such enquiries to Royal Enfield,” says she.

Is the connection between Esprite Nomade and the Bullet immediate ly apparent or does it have to be explained, you wonder? Simran says that the orientation is not so much on sale as it is on evoking an image and creating an atmosphere. “I did not know how people would react, but the fact that it piques the curiosity is good enough,” she says.

Beenu Bawa, head marketing, says the Bullet was a natural fit given that the cult status it enjoys. The bike has an image that is easily recognisable and loved across the globe, and its brand attributes include adventure, passion and timelessness. “These are also the attributes of the Esprite Nomade collection,” stresses Beenu. “Also, the bike is generally regarded as an urban creature, and the escape is to something outside the daily environment. The Bullet is that link to getting away.”

##### “The Bullet is a romantic way to go off on a nomadic trip. The bike evokes a sense of freedom as does Esprite Nomade,” adds Simran. These conceptual connection aside, there is another not so subtle reason for the Bullet to grace the Esprite Nomade collection. Simran is the younger sister of Siddhartha Lal, MD of the Eicher Group, which owns Royal Enfield India, the makers of the Bullet.

Although she and her brother often spoke about ways to brand attributes of the bike, the idea of including it in the Esprite Nomade collection came after she read an article in the Hindustan Times, which said that Johnny Depp planned to use the Bullet in his upcoming movie, ‘Shantaram’. This, she says, was a good indication of the cult status of the bike, and the rest, as they say, is history. The Bullet will be on display for a month, and Simran says there are no plans to prolong its presence at the Good Earth store. “It could take away some of the excitement behind it,” she explains.

Good Earth was started in 1996 by Simran’s mother Anita Lal with the intention of giving a world-class shopping experience to Indians, whether it is quality or original design. The ethos in the store is Indian, but in a very contemporary way. “The idea is to be rooted in Indian culture and ethos, yet not be limited by it,” she says.

Good Earth is part of the $400 million (Rs 1,800 crore) Eicher group that makes commercial vehicles and the Royal Enfield motorbikes. It marks the group’s diversification into retail, and is positioned as a luxury brand. The company’s philosophy is based on the belief that luxury is about using and being surrounded by things that are pure, natural and handcrafted. In January 2005, Good Earth opened its 20,000 square foot showroom in Mumbai, showcasing unique design collections of furniture and accessories sourced from all over the world. There are plans to open a similarly sized store in Delhi, a city that already hosts two smaller stores.

“Good Earth is a retail pioneer in the sense that there still isn’t another place for high end, luxury home products all under once roof across categories. Our clientele is upmarket and we believe in building long term relationships with them. The philosophy is to become a friend and guide in creating and establishing that unique lifestyle in each of our customers,” explains Beenu.

Esprite Nomade is a concept design company focused on unique branding of new labels and the development of products. Their activities include lifestyle concepts for retail stores, spa resorts, and interiors of luxury hotels. In the travel segment, Esprite Nomade believes that its customer is not alienated but rather comforted by other cultures. “The Esprite Nomade traveler is forever undertaking expeditions into the unknown, and knows the paths to the inner spirit,” says Beenu.

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