‘To be successful, you have to pay attention to both the niche, high-margin segment as well as the mass market.’
Frank Zhuang, director of the Board, Benelli QJm, speaks to Amit Panday on bringing the Benelli brand to India, partnership with the DSK Group and why India matters.
How important is an emerging economy like India for Benelli’s worldwide business?
Emerging markets are actually the drivers of growth globally and India is one of the BRIC countries. India is an emerging super power and has a very high percentage of young population. I believe that the competitiveness of this country is unlimited. China, on the other hand, has delivered profound economic results.
We cannot afford to not be a part of the Indian economy and not enter this market. We are thinking that this is one of the most important markets for us and we hope that this becomes the biggest market for us in terms of sales and revenues globally in our portfolio.
Besides China, Malaysia is another emerging market in the South East Asian region where we are present.
What is your global sales gameplan?
Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Australia and China are some of the big markets for us. In the long run, we are expecting to achieve global annual sales of 300,000-500,000 units as against the current 30,000 units. I am sure that this will take time. More importantly, Benelli’s strategy is to serve what the majority of customers want, besides being a part of each niche market (like India).
But that does not mean that we are going to make everything in the motorcycle market. At Benelli, we want to make sure that we always stay at the leading edge of technology, our core brand values and the spirit. We always deliver reliable and stylish bikes and scooters to consumers to make sure that they are proud of what they are having.
You have been planning to enter India for the past year? Why did you choose the DSK Group as your partner here?
Yes, we have been planning to enter the Indian market for over a year now. The DSK Group has an extensive knowledge and expertise of the Indian superbike market and has been working with Hyosung. It has successfully managed to set up the dealer network, distribution and aftersales services. It is financially very strong and has professional human resources. For us, it is the right partner with the right team and that’s why we have partnered with them.
You are developing commuter motorcycles, not specifically for the Indian market, but for your global markets. This is in parallel with DSK’s plan of venturing into the commuter bike segment in India. Are you looking at using this opportunity to venture into the 125cc/150cc mass motorcycle segments in India in the near future?
Yes, we are developing the commuter products. In order to become a successfully known motorcycle manufacturer globally, you have to pay attention to not only the niche or high-margin segments but also to the areas where the mass consumers are. You make the bikes, whether for India, Bangladesh, Malaysia or United States, you have to tailor them accordingly.
For the commuter bike segment, we need to be really cautious and careful in terms of how to meet the requirements of the Indian consumers. Right now our focus is the superbike segment here and we want to ensure that the consumers love this brand and the products.
What would be your investments here, given that DSK is going to set up an assembly facility and exclusive showrooms for you?
Our investments won’t be in terms of money right now. As this is a technical agreement, our investments would be in terms of the bikes (supplying the stock as per the Indian requirements), training to the Indian engineers, and providing for the required aftersales support.
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