Bajaj and it's Art of Successful Cannibalization

Bajaj Auto, India’s second largest two-wheeler manufacturer has just announced the phase-out of its popular Discover 135 model after the recent launch of Discover 150. With this move, Bajaj is back in doing what it always does best – "Successful Cannibalization" of its models by phasing out and replacing them ever-so-soon. While this move has constantly increased the sales and overall volume of the individual models, as a brand, Bajaj is losing its value by not realizing that the existing customers of the phased-out models are at a loss.

It all started with the Caliber 115 and Wind 125. While the Caliber met with a good initial response before the sales started sagging, the Wind was a rare flop for Bajaj and the company decided to pull the plug on both these models. Then came the shock decision to quit the 100cc segment altogether, thus killing the CT100 model, at a time when it was challenging Hero Honda Splendor and Passion for sales supremacy in the country. While Bajaj took back its decision and re-entered the 100cc segment with the Platina, which was based on Wind 125, it again met with a tremendous response. The Platina just flew off the showroom floors and its success prompted Bajaj to come out with a 125cc version too. Amidst all this, an all-new model range called XCD was unveiled with much fanfare at the 2008 Auto Expo. This brand-new model was initially launched with an advanced 125 cc DTS-Si engine (with Swirl Injection) and later the model range was expanded with the introduction of XCD 135. Although both the models met with a moderate success, before too long, both these models did not feature in Bajaj’s Lineup.

Even the flagship Discover and Pulsar brands were not spared from this mess. The Discover, for instance, started life as a 125cc model, then the range got expanded with the addition of an 110cc version, shortly after which the 125 gave way to a more powerful 135cc version and the 110 was replaced by a more economical 100cc version. And now, the 135 has been phased out with the launch of Discover 150. Phew! And the case of Pulsar is relatively much simple. The big-selling 150 and 180 DTS-i still remains on sale, whereas the 220 DTS-Fi (with Fuel Injection) came and went and the 200 DTS-i came and was eventually replaced by the more powerful yet cheaper 220 DTS-i.

If, merely reading and typing the above content makes you and me feel so confused and to an extent irritated, imagine the plight of the respective teams at Bajaj which implemented and made all this happen in real life. As much as I love Bajaj for its research and development prowess and the frequency in which they update their models, I wish they sustain and evolve their new models over the years rather than abruptly stopping them all of a sudden.

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