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Yamaha expects India sales to be 10-year low in 2020

Ravinder Singh, Senior Vice President, YMIS, saidt he market sentiment is estimated to improve by mid-August onwards during festive seasons

BusinessToday.In | Sunday, September 20, 2020 | 21:17 IST

Japanese two-wheeler company Yamaha Motor said it estimates sales in the Indian market to be the lowest in a decade in 2020 because of drastic fall in consumer's buying sentiment due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The bike manufacturer's wholly-owned subsidiary Yamaha Motor India Sales (YMIS) has witnessed a fall of over 36 per cent in its domestic sales in January-August this year. This suggests that the pandemic is likely to change the practice of shared transportation as people will prioritise social distancing.

Ravinder Singh, Senior Vice President, YMIS, said, "Yamaha expects demand to gradually grow, although the total sales volume for the year 2020 will remain the lowest in a decade." The market sentiment is estimated to improve by mid-August onwards during festive seasons, he added.

The growing impact of the pandemic has made it important for businesses and companies to re-look at their strategies for the future, he said.

"The change in consumer journey will fuel new business models and Yamaha will also need to establish new processes to ensure growth," Singh said, adding that the company is focussing on usage of digital platforms by the dealers to reach the customers.

The company had witnessed that the pandemic brought about a drastic shift in consumer buying habits and behaviours in terms of usage of transportation means, the official said.

"It's likely to moderate the trends of shared mobility as people will prioritise social distancing and personal hygiene. This will effectively build higher preferences for affordable personal mobility, which could boost sales for auto manufacturers," Singh opined.

Citing research conducted by Kantar, he stated that shared mobility will take a hit by 55 per cent as people will stop using the public mode of transportation.

During January-August this year, YMIS sold 2,88,942 units of two-wheelers compared to 4,54,617 units in the year-ago period, a decline of 36.44 per cent.

The company, however, is witnessing its sales coming back on track in the last two months with 4.32 per cent rise in July and 14.8 per cent rise in August as against the same period of last year.

When asked about the company's plans to bring customers back into purchasing mode as most of the sectors have unlocked now, Singh said: "Right now, Yamaha's major concern is to bring back shape to the business and ensure that the customers also return to the dealerships.

"The new normal calls for major strategic transformation in retail planning and the company is currently driving the whole retail scenario by digital initiatives as far as possible."

He further said the challenge right now lies with strength and endurance of business and not expansion, while the Yamaha will gradually unfold its new strategies to "enhance excitement" in the market.

The senior YMIS official informed that for the current year, the digital platforms of the brand will strongly focus on building the company's new campaign 'The Call of the Blue', which will promote the global experience of Yamaha.

"Automobile companies normally witness an upward trend during the regional festive season, especially with Durga Puja, Diwali till Christmas in Eastern India. Also, the demand for two-wheelers may increase owing to changes in travel preferences due personal safety," Singh added.

The company also plans to launch 15 'Blue Square' showrooms across the country in 2020 focussing on sport and style of the Yamaha models, he added.

"By 2021, we will be opening approximately 100 Blue Square outlets across India. Our sole objective is to provide our customers a premium experience through these exclusive showrooms, while they spend their time to buy premium Yamaha products and accessories," Singh said.

On attracting more customers towards its two-wheelers, Yamaha might revisit its advertising strategy also, the official said.

"For the auto category, the second half of the year is an important business period with many tactical campaigns. Yamaha will continue advertising with different media mix and strategy while addressing key challenges and objectives," Singh said.

(With PTI inputs)

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