Bajaj Dominar 400 Advertisement (ridiculing RE)- A marketer’s perspective

An effective advertisement is one which conveys the USP of a product, its uses, clinching benefits and excellence in the product in a visually striking & socially responsible manner, such that it stays in the viewers’ minds for a prolonged period of time. One of the most discussed recent advertisements in the automotive industry is of the Bajaj Dominar 400 ad-series, where it is pretty evident that Bajaj has been locking horns with the most iconic brand of thumper manufacturers in the country – Royal Enfield. In these advertisements, Bajaj has openly ridiculed Royal Enfield for its limitations like speed, heaviness, poor braking, etc.

The advertisements are visually striking and do hit the nail in the head, provided that their only purpose is to criticize Enfields. However, that is an example of Bajaj’s short sightedness in its marketing campaign. The Bajaj Dominar 400 is loaded with features and comes at a price tag that no other company would dare to offer. Dominar 400 was the first motorcycle to get full LED headlamps. The bike gets slipper clutch for quick downshifting of gears, dual channel ABS, 320 mm front disc brake, digital console, wide tyres and a mighty 373 cc, fuel injected triple spark engine which delivers an expeditious response at minimal wring of the throttle. The price of such a feature-rich product is surprisingly INR 1,58,000 only. In contrast, the price of the Royal Enfield Classic 350 is somewhere close to INR 1,45,000. Classic 350 gets retro styling and the legendary thump, but comes with average braking, poor top speed, average headlamps, and various common reliability issues associated with Enfields. Comparing the price-to-value proportion of the Dominar 400 and Classic 350 makes it apparent that the latter is definitely an over-priced product and the company is solely relying on its ‘BRAND IMAGE’. All marketing and product concepts go for a toss when it comes to Royal Enfield, thanks to the cult following that the firm has managed to build over the past couple of decades.

If you remember how Himalayan was advertised, Royal Enfield just said – Built for all roads, built for no roads. Similarly, Bajaj Dominar 400 should have been projected as a fast mile-munching machine. Dominar 400 is a value for money product. But, it was not projected in that manner. Here are some sales statistics –

Month | Year Dominar 400 Classic 350
 January 2017 3000 Units 39,391 Units
 December 2017 925 Units 47,558 Units
Total Sales (2017) 22,707 Units 5,27,737 Units

Coming to the effectiveness of the advertisement, people found it entertaining but it did not have any effect on the Classic 350 sales. In fact, sales of the Classic 350 have been increasing consistently. On the other hand, the Dominar 400 is a big leap behind, with its sales being merely 4.3 % of Classic 350 sales. Hence, the question that arises in every marketer’s mind is this – Could the advertising budget spent on ridiculing the RE brand have been used in a better way, in order to build brand value for the Dominar 400 instead?

The latest Dominar 400 ad series was not a social awareness campaign that the reach and remembrance of an ad mattered. In the end, it’s the sales figures that determine if the ad had really appealed or had an impact on the audience. Needless to say, that it failed to give the desired result. What went wrong? Why did it fail?

I would like to quote a few lines from Royal Enfield’s site – ‘This is a motorcycle that does not need to shout to be heard. Born of a rich heritage and bred with royal elegance, this 350cc thumper has all the qualities of a typical Royal Enfield. Appreciated then, appreciated now…’ Now that’s mature right!! Over the years, Royal Enfield has built a riding cult and all Enfield owners have a sense of belongingness – Bulleteers. Royal Enfield as a brand has seen people develop an emotional connect with their motorcycles and they have promoted their rides with pride. People relate its thumping to heart beats and that is more than sufficient to say that other brands should rather focus on product excellence, rather than  trying to shake the Royal Enfield’s brand image. I am not at all defending Royal Enfield here, but Bajaj Dominar 400 is not a retro-styled or vintage inspired motorcycle. It is a modern day, feature loaded, high-performance machine which absolutely should not have been compared to any of the retro-styled motorcycles, let alone of a brand that is close to the heart of a large chunk of motorcyclists of the country. It could have been a star performer in its own segment and I guess the bike’s impressive specifications were enough to attract customers in India.

Personally, I loved the Dominar 400 and even though I own an Enfield, I suggest people to go for Dominar if they are looking for speed and performance. Most audience interpreted the advertisement as an attempt to ridicule Royal Enfield. The purpose of highlighting the plus points of Dominar 400 was lost somewhere and the goodies it offered were not noticed by the viewers at all. This advertisement was countered by Enfield owners. It reflects the pride and belongingness among the RE community. Also, no attempts made by Royal Enfield to respond to such criticism projected it as a more mature, stable and established brand which stood unshaken. Unfortunately, it seems the marketing team at Bajaj is too obsessed with #Haathi_Mat_Palo campaign and is continuing with the same ad-series.

Initially, the Dominar 400 was launched with the tagline Dominate the Night, that made its purpose pretty clear – Make riding a piece of cake even on dark roads. Bajaj had also listed ’50 reasons to buy a Dominar’. That made a lot of sense. The bike was launched as a sports tourer which was pocket friendly, is capable of touring all day without a sign of fatigue and keeps the rider comfortable in the saddle. Had the advertisement been single minded, focused on the rich feature list and most importantly, the cost leadership, the sales figures would have been a lot better. The question is – CAN DOMINAR 400 MAKE A COMEBACK? CAN THE SALES BE IMPROVED? WHEN COST-LEADERSHIP COULD NOT HELP, WHAT WILL?

I say, YES, IT CAN… but how?? Stay tuned for the next article!!!!

Meanwhile, do checkout the Bajaj Dominar review at:

and simple modifications you can try on Enfield without losing its classy look at:

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2 thoughts on “Bajaj Dominar 400 Advertisement (ridiculing RE)- A marketer’s perspective

  1. Wonderful article. This helped me a lot in understanding where Brand value stands and how a mere comparison cannot help with driving sales. Emotional connect does wonders for many companies.

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