Once Upon a Vespa: creating a premium segment in India

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As far as two-wheelers go, I am partial to scooters rather than motorcycles. And Vespa as a brand is pretty strongly embedded in my mind for a variety of reasons: its previous avatars in India, the residual imagery from Hollywood movies like Roman Holiday, articles about celebrities and the well-heeled using it (apparently Sir Martin Sorrell gets driven around New York by his wife in her red Vespa), some great global advertising campaigns and so on.

Vespa India plans were announced recently and it seems to be about creating a premium segment here. Priced at a significant premium compared to available options in India, it is clearly not aimed at the average commuter. There is mindset which is willing to pay a premium for aesthetics, brand value and ‘substance’. Witness this in a small way in the cover price of premium magazines – it is no longer uncommon to find international magazine titles selling at Rs.100 & above;  just a few years ago, the cover prices were in less than half  of that. Ditto with computers and mobile phones. Interestingly the product has been ‘re-designed’ to suit the Indian market: lowered footboard to accommodate our saris, slimmer body, a louder horn etc., are little touches that send a positive signal about caring for the consumer’s needs.

Aside from those actively seeking a two-wheeler option and willing to pay a premium for it, there could be smaller segments like 4-wheeler owners looking at this as a style statement. Apart from the brand website a microsite ‘Once Upon a Vespa‘ aims to involve the consumer in the brand experience.

While on the topic, here are a couple of much-loved Vespa ads of recent times.

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Manila (click on the images for a hi-res version)

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, New Zealand

Will the Vespa halo work its magic in India?

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