Bajaj Auto has launched way too many Discovers, while also discontinuing models silently. This has led to customers losing faith in the brand while existing owners are angry over having bought a model which was discontinued abruptly.
Do you know that the 100cc segment accounts for 60% of motorcycle sales? That’s a vast volume and Hero MotoCorp sells way more Splendors than Bajaj Auto sells all bikes combined in the domestic market. The Pune based manufacturer’s market share has decreased by a massive 6% in the last couple of years and the company MD, Rajiv Bajaj has said that “it is true that we have a bit of a problem with the Discover”. So what went wrong, while Bajaj Auto’s strategy was good in the short run, it mis-fired in the long run because with every new Discover bike, they did see a sales spike that just didn’t last. So a bit of a dive back in history will help us understand as to what went horribly wrong with Bajaj’s commuter brand Discover.
2004 – Bajaj launched the Discover with a 125cc engine.
2005 – Bajaj launched the Discover with a 112cc engine, discontinuing the Discover 125.
2006 – Bajaj pulled out from the 100cc segment, stating it wasn’t as profitable as higher capacity bikes. It also marketed its 125cc bikes with the mileage of a 100cc and performance of a 125. At this time, Bajaj was the number two in the 100cc segment.
2007 – Bajaj launched the Discover with a 135cc engine.
2009 – Bajaj launched the Discover 100 DTS-Si, coming back to the 100cc segment after having failed to convince consumers about buying a higher cc bike with similar efficiency. The 112cc Discover was discontinued.
2010 – Bajaj introduces Discover 150, discontinuing the Discover 135.
2011 – Bajaj re-launched the Discover 125. It also updated the Discover 100 and discontinued the Discover 125.
2012 – Bajaj launched the Discover 100 4G and next generation Discover in the form of the Discover 125 ST replacing the old model.
2013 – Bajaj launched the Discover 100T. It also introduced the Discover 125T and 100M.
2014 – Bajaj discontinued the Discover 125 ST, Discover 125T and Discover 100T, it launched the Discover 125 M.
2014 – Bajaj launched the Discover 150S and 150F, bringing back the Discover 150.
2015 – The Discover 100 will be discontinued. A new 125cc Discover is set to be launched.
So one can clearly see that in the past 10 years, lots of Discovers have come and gone, creating confusion in the mind of buyers and canalisation for the company. Not to forget, in that time, Bajaj also launched other bikes like an update to the Pulsar 150, XCD, Platina, Boxer, etc. Meanwhile there is still the same Honda Unicorn in one variant which is being sold since the past 9 years without any changes (the CB Unicorn Dazzler came and went though).
The problem is clear, there is no long term strategy at Bajaj Auto, no time is given to a product to do well and new launches is the mantra. When Bajaj launched the Discover 100 DTS-SI in 2009, it got terrific response and every time a new Discover was launched, sales saw an immediate increment. Maybe Bajaj thought that every new Discover launch would result in increased sales so new Discovers kept coming.
Today Bajaj has four Discovers on sale – 100M, 125M, 150S and 150F. A new 125cc Discover will join the line-up later this year, taking learnings from the Discover 150 for improvements. Bajaj could launch the 125cc Discover under a new brand name. What do you think went wrong with Bajaj and commuter brand Discover?