Demonetisation, GST and BSIV effects still causing premium bike market to grow slower than expected, says Ducati India MD
Sergi Canovas, MD, Ducati India
Who is the Scrambler 1100 customer?
The customer for the 1100 can come from the Scrambler 800 experience. We have a big community of Scrambler owners in Ducati since we started - I think the 1100 can be the perfect bike for them. They want the same values that the Scrambler  has - easy to buy, accessible and iconic. But they are looking for something with more power without being intimidating but at the same time, with much more technology and far greater refinement in terms of material and finish. Also if you look at the market today - it doesn't offer this level of technology. That would be a good customer for us.
Why is the premium bike market not growing fast?
I think that isn't related very much to whether the customer is willing to buy or not. I think that there are some external factors that we have been dealing with for the last two years which are affecting the market. I think that the interest - especially if you look at the quantity of bikes arriving - means that there is enough potential to grow. Of course, not at the speed we are expecting, but the potential is there. So sooner or later, it is going to happen. That's why we [Ducati] are here, we are pushing a lot on the [riding] experience to ensure that they try the bikes because they have more choices now. So it is important that each brand shows what it is offering to the customer.
What are these external factors?
We [still] have a little bit of [the effect of] demonetisation. We have, still, the fact of GST last year and specially, the [after-effects of] the BS IV thing [Sergi refers to Ducati's hiccup when the Monster 821 was launched but then sales were stopped because there was a gap in the departure of the BSIII-compliant model and the arrival of the BSIV-ready 821]. All of these things have changed the mentality of the people and also the willingness to make moves quickly, or wait for something else to happen.
What's Ducati India up to this year?
We are planning to launch a new model, a new version [of an existing model]. So that will probably happen next month, and for this year, we are done. I think these are very important models for us, because in some way, it allows us to enter into new segments. If you look for example, [the V4] allows us to enter into the four-cylinder bike segment - it is important and we enter with our own definition of a four-cylinder motorcycle. Also if you look at the Scrambler 1100, it allows us to enter into the segment of modern classic bikes with higher capacities.
One launch, that's it?
We have been doing a lot of activity in two main areas. One is experiencing our bikes on tours like the Dream Tour series that we have already done in Himachal and we also did in Ladakh. That is very good interaction with the customers and very good experiences. But we are also on the side of making new customers or potential customers try out bikes out in their environment. That's why we also did the DRE Off-Road Days - a very successful event. Now we are planning to launch a Level 2 [DRE Off-Road Days] event and then we also planning to do something important on the BIC with an international instructor in October.
More distribution coming up?
Right now the dealership strategies comes down to the volumes. I think the first stage has been done. We are going to open one new dealer by the end of this year and we are going to cover all the major cities [in the process]. And I think that we are quite well covered right now with the network we have.
Service spruce up?
In the one thing which is very important from the brand perspective is to make sure that the customer experience and service is [done in] the best way possible. Because you can buy the bike but after all [that], if you don't have a good service, you will have a bad experience. So we are working at specific trainings for India staff, but we are also trying to finalise training programs for customers so that they can understand and know the bike better, and what it is that they can do in their homes to make sure that the bike is always in good condition.
What's the long term plan?
When we look at our customers, we know that they went through a journey in which they have experienced different kinds of bikes, and in most of the cases, the ultimate brand that they want to try [is Ducati]. So that's the thing that we really want to protect. You know, this feeling that Ducati is my desired bike. For that, you need to work a lot on how you position your brand and how you establish the customer journey, all that customer experience. So we can work in a short term and we can manage some more sales, but our main core and main strategy is on the long term. So we are always focussing on making the customer experience their bikes and understand what Ducati is offering.