News of Bajaj Auto exiting the scooter business is making the rounds of business newspapers today. The decision has been compelled by the changing nature of the 2-wheeler market in India, which is slowly but surely shifting to motorbikes. In fact Bajaj stopped making the flagship Chetak scotter 3 years ago. I think Bajaj must be commended for taking decisive action and focus only on their ambition of becoming a global leader in motorbikes.
The cornerstone of Bajaj scooter marketing was the 1989 ‘Hamara Bajaj’ ad which gave us all goose flesh and made us proud to be Indians. Then came the fuel efficient motorbikes lead by Hero Honda – whose legendary ‘fill it, shut it forget it’ campaign provided a fillip to those seeking a transition to motorbikes. Then the Japs brought in new technology into scooters which made Bajaj scooters look fuddy duddy and outdated. Attempting a play in the scooter segment whose dynamics have changed so much over the last 2 decades would have been a distraction to their stated ambition.
All this reminded me of the 1991 movie, ‘Other People’s Money‘. In the movie, Gregory Peck plays the Chairman of New England Wire & Cable Company which is slowly but surely going down the tube. A Wall Street shark, played by Danny De Vito attempts a hostile take over of the company. The highlight of the movie were the speeches made by Gregory Peck and Danny De Vito to the share holders – arguing for and against the take over. Here is Danny De Vito’s speech where makes a brilliantly argued plea.
Over the past two decades some great advertising happened for Bajaj Scooters (and some good work continues to happen on motorcycles). But, quite like Danny De Vitos’ argument about obsolescence and buggy whips, Bajaj Auto has decided to focus on their ambition in motorcycles. I guess hard nosed business decisions have no room for emotions.