Apr 30, 2007

Yamaha Alba 106

Stretching a product's life by changing its packaging isn't uncommon. Hero Honda has been doing it with its first bike CD 100 when it launched it under various names like CD100 SS, CD Deluxe, Splendor, Splendor Plus, Passion, Passion Plus. A few cosmetic changes apart, all these products were almost the same. But then, Hero Honda started with 'Fill it, Shut it, Forget it' and were the first one to occupy that space. That's one of the reasons why they've been able to stretch the product's saleability for so long. Incidentally, it was tough for Hero Honda to really achieve sales in the other space of performance bikes. CBZ and Karizma might not have succeeded to Hero Honda's satisfaction.

On the other hand, when Hero Honda was tom-tomming 'Fill it, Shut it, Forget it', Yamaha was busy riding on performance. And appropriately, people always expected good performance machines from Yamaha. Now at a time when biking category and interest in performance biking is surging in India, Yamaha is ignoring its long-trodden path and trying to tread the path that Hero Honda has always owned. Even Bajaj has lately had a considerable run on the latter path. Alba 106 and its predecessors - Crux and Libero - are a result of this foolhardiness of Yamaha. Not to say that there's much harm to be present in this segment of the market. But it's not the greatest ploy to stick only to this economy segment and not do anything in the performance segment where it has always had a great name.

Yamaha will also find it tough to find takers of its economy focussed bikes since these bikes are usually bought by those who are just graduating (either monetarily or age-wise) to biking. The ones who are graduating monetarily would go by the tried and tested - Hero Honda or Bajaj. And the ones who are graduating age-wise have neither had the Yamaha experience earlier or even seen them on the roads. Even if these guys talk to Yamaha aficionados or ones who've experienced the Yamaha in their biking days will always opine that Yamaha had great performance bikes during their time but now the bikes aren't the same. In such a case, Yamaha Alba has very little chance to succeed. Word-of-mouth wouldn't corroborate what Yamaha would say in its ads. And the evidence on the roads is totally to the contrary.

If Yamaha India were doing well in the performance segment, its claims in the other segments would have some believability. Unfortunately, it hasn't done much to strengthen itself in the former. In the latter, there are heavy weights who have proved themselves and therefore are difficult to shake.

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