UM Motorcycles to launch cruiser bikes

American bike maker UM Motorcycles has agreed to form an equal joint venture with electric two-wheeler maker Lohia Auto to manufacture and market its products, starting with cruiser motorcycles. “We have finalised our terms with the Indian company to start a joint facility and roll out the American bikes in the domestic market,” Rajeev Mishra, director at UM  Motorcycles India, told ET. He said a definitive agreement for the 50-50 venture with an initial investment of Rs 120 crore will be signed shorty. It will start with a contract manufacturing arrangement to roll out bikes next year onwards. “As per the initial plans we aim to launch three cruiser bikes for the  Indian customers in the 250-350cc engine size,” Mishra said. “We would be working in the affordable price segments that should start at Rs 1 lakh going by the current taxation structure,” he said. “As we move ahead we plan to  enrich the offering by launching sports bikes and the current hotspot scooters for the Indian customers.”

um motorcyclesThe manufacturing facility will come up at Kashipur in Uttarakhand with an initial installed capacity to produce 100,000 units. It will utilise Lohia Auto’s existing  plant to make electric scooters and bikes and production is expected to start in the second quarter of 2015. Miami-based UM International, which has sports bikes, cruisers, dual-purpose bikes and scooters from 100cc to 350cc in its portfolio, also plans to utilise India as an export hub, shipping made-in-India two-wheelers through its global distribution network across Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific region. The brand is present in over 20 countries.UM’s cruiser Renegade Commando comes with a singlecylinder 223cc engine while Renegade Sport comes in three engine sizes of  138cc, 180cc and the 196cc. The company is known for innovative features such as keyless alarm system and blind spot mirror system. Its commuter models include 150cc  Razor, and 125cc and 150cc Falcon, among others.

– ET

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Chennai Central set to be India’s first Wi-Fi railway station

Passengers will soon be able to browse the net as they wait for trains at Chennai Central, with the station set to become the first in the country to offer Wi-Fi connectivity. The plan was officially inaugurated by railway minister D V Sadananda Gowda on Friday. It will take a few more days for passengers to be able to use the Wi-Fi  facility. The Union minister also inspected the Royapuram railway station. When TOI visited the station at around 7.15pm, the designated Wi-Fi centre was empty and  padlocked.

chennai centralAccording to senior railway officials, the Wi-Fi system will have a signal booster to maintain 512kbps bandwidth speed for up to 60 metres at the station. The estimated cost of the project is 60 lakh, officials said, adding that they would make periodic improvements in the system.
“Passengers will be directed to a login page and will receive a one-time password that they can use to access the net through the Wi-Fi system,” a senior official of  the railways’ technical wing said. The first 30 minutes of browsing will be free. Passengers will face restrictions on uploading of data but there will be no  restrictions on downloading data from the internet. A top-up to extend browsing time beyond the first 30 minutes can be secured by an online payment. During Gowda’s inspection of the Royapuram railway station, he assured residents that the ministry will discuss and coordinate with the state government on their  long-pending demand that Royapuram be upgraded to a passenger station to ease congestion at Egmore and Central stations.

– ET

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Multiple fragrances drives deodorant sales

Usage of different fragrances by consumers for every occasion appears to be driving growth and penetration in the Rs 2,300-crore deodorant market in India. This has enabled multiple brand/product entry into heavy-user households. Around 10% of deodorant consumers today are said to be the heavy users who buy multiple brands or multiple variants of a single brand for different occasions. These  consumers are said to be segregating their usage of deodorants, depending on whether the fragrance is apt for a usual day at office or an evening dinner or an informal
meet. The trend is unique to deodorants because in other mainline FMCG categories, brand loyalty is high and consumers generally buy a single brand, whether it is a  detergent or a toothpaste. In deodorants, consumers are floating within a repertoire of brands, leading to the category clocking 20-25% annual growth, with some  segments within the category growing at 30-35%. On the other hand, the FMCG market as a whole is growing at an average of 9%.

deodorant“We are seeing a trend of consumers buying multiple fragrances to suit the occasion. Consumers generally keep two or three options in fragrances and this is leading to rapid growth in the category,” said Darshan Patel, promoter of Vini Cosmetics, which owns the leading deodorant brand Fogg. A qualitative research carried out by McNroe Consumer Products, the maker of Wild Stone, which is the third largest brand of deodorants in India, has observed that  Delhi and particularly the NCR region has the highest segment of heavy users and the region contributes 14% to the overall deodorant market. “That’s where the trend  comes out about a section of consumers buying multiple packs. Interestingly, 70% of deodorant consumers are men. It’s the heavy-user segment that normally tends to  adopt multiple fragrances for multiple occasions,” said Sanjoy Sen, COO, McNroe Consumer Products. Given this insight into consumer behaviour, six variants have been launched under Wild Stone. Fogg, too, has a specific variant for consumers who wish to wear a different fragrance for an evening out. Also addressing the multiple consumer preferences in fragrances is ITC’s Engage which has not only launched six variants but added ten more fragrance profiles for men  and women. Engage has emerged as the second largest brand in the deodorant market, both in volume as well as value. No other FMCG category has as many variants like in  deodorants.

“Evolving consumer preferences, lifestyle changes and increase in personal disposable incomes are some of the %attributes that have led to significant growth in the deodorant category. The aspirational urban youth is increasingly looking for grooming choices to indulge in and deodorants are becoming an integral lifestyle product,” said Nilanjan Mukherjee, head of marketing, personal care products business, ITC.
The industry expects deodorant penetration to increase substantially from the current levels of 16% metro penetration and about 10% all-India urban penetration. “The advertising spend on deodorants is close to Rs 400 crore. Given that kind of messaging taking place, the category is bound to expand,” said Sen

– ETRetail

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Restaurant chains increasing vegetarian menu

When Kentucky Fried Chicken, synonymous with its ‘finger lickin good’ positioning, altered its tagline for India to ‘so veg, so good’ to promote its paneer zinger burger and veg twister this March, it was not just a marketing fad. Since then the fast-food chain’s sales of its vegetarian items in the country have shot up by 50%.  “On different days of the week, various people turn vegetarian for different religious reasons. We realised we couldn’t alienate those consumers and needed to go after them,” said Dhruv Kaul, chief marketing officer at Yum! Restaurants that owns KFC. With Indian consumers, including a significant number of youngsters, adopting vegetarianism in a big way, global and Indian restaurant chains such as Domino’s Pizza,  McDonald’s, Mad Over Donuts and Made in Punjab are increasing their vegetarian menu rapidly in the country, backed with marketing campaigns. “It’s an undeniable fact that India is largely a vegetarian market. It’s telling you in the face,” Yum!’s Kaul said.  KFC backed up its ‘soveg, so good’ tagline by boosting its vegetarian menu with items such as Restaurant chains increasing vegetarian menu rapidly in the country veg rice bowls and veg rockin’ burgers, and playing videos across its stores showing how it was using separate kitchen areas and separate oil for cooking the  vegetarian food along with a social media campaign to tell consumers how serious it is about vegetarian menu. It goes without saying that India has the largest number  of vegetarian dishes on KFC menu. Zorawar Kalra, celebrity chef Jiggs Kalra’s entrepreneur son who runs Made in Punjab restaurants, said that despite items like butter  chicken being the best-known Punjabi cuisine, more than half of his sales come from vegetarian food.

vegetarian“With consumers in the West also talking about adopting vegetarianism, it’s more than a fad now,” he said. “That India is the only naturally vegetarian country in the world accelerates the focus on vegetarianism that much more.”  A recent survey on pizza sales by food delivery portal foodpanda.in showed that almost four out of every five pizzas sold in Delhi are vegetarian. “It surprised us,  coming from Delhi with its majority pop Punjabi population,” said Rohit Chaddha, co-founder and CEO at foodpanda. He said 15% of the 4,000-odd restaurants listed on 
foodpanda now serve only vegetarian food. “Our observation is the trend is steadily increasing, which could be because of religion and sensitivity to animals.” Aji Nair, vice-president for the food & beverages division at Mirah Hospitality, said a combination of factors is driving up vegetarianism in the country. “We’ve observed that youngsters are now participating in a lot of rituals. Besides, people directly or indirectly connect health consciousness to vegetarianism,” he said. Mirah Hospitality-owned Khandani Rajdhani, which runs a chain of 28 allvegetarian restaurants, on an average sells about 1.9 lakh vegetarian thalis a month. Devendra Chawla, president of Future Group-owned Food Bazaar, said there are several things driving youngsters to go vegetarian. “The landscape of food consumption is undergoing a huge change with new trends like vegan and gluten-free foods. The young are citing a host of reasons for going  meat-free, from personal taste and concerns about animal treatment to influence of peers and celebrities,” he said. “The chef revolution is also contributing by  glamourising use of vegetarian food.”

Multinational chains have been quick to adapt to the trend. Domino’s Pizza, the country’s biggest fast-food chain, said 65% of its pizza sales in the country are vegetarian. The chain already has 11 pure-vegetarian outlets in the country including ones at religious places of Golden Temple in Amritsar, Haridwar, Shirdi and Vaishno Devi. “We expect that 65-70% of our consumption mix will continue in favour of vegetarian food,” said Harneet Singh Rajpal, senior vice-president for marketing at Jubilant FoodWorks that runs Domino’s in the country. With the start of the nine-day Navratri festival when a large number of nonveg Hindus specially in the North and West go off meat on Thursday, most food chains are  promoting their vegetarian menu. Domino’s, for example, is promoting its five new vegetarian pizzas during this period. “We expect at least 60% of our non-vegetarian customers to turn purely  vegetarian during this period,” Rajpal said. Burger and fries chain McDonald’s biggest selling product in India remains aloo tikki burger despite a string of chicken and egg innovations. “Sale of non-vegetarian  products does go down during the Navratras. But it is more than compensated by robust volume increase in the sale of vegetarian products,” said Rajesh Kumar Maini,  general manager for corporate communications at McDonald’s (North & East). Doughnut chain Mad over Donuts (MOD) displays across all its stores upfront that its doughnuts, cookies and cupcakes are completely eggless. “It’s made a huge  difference to our sales. We tell this (that we are 100% eggless) to consumers in all our campaigns, on social media, and point of sale,” said Tarak Bhattacharya, chief
operating officer at MOD.

– ETRetail

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Xiaomi has big plans for India this Diwali

Chinese firm Xiaomi is stocking up on its smartphones in India in readiness for the festive season as it looks to gain ground in the world’s third largest smartphone market, a top executive said on Friday. International vice president Hugo Barra said the company is now making provision to sell 1,00,000 phones a week in October, when India celebrates the festival of  Diwali. He also said the company was working with local companies and startups to build services for phones sold in India and the company was also exploring  possibilities of eventually setting up a local manufacturing unit. Xiaomi, which sells its phones exclusively through e-commerce website Flipkart.com, is selling about 60,000 phones a week, he said.

xiaomi“For the Diwali month we’re chartering planes from Hong Kong to India to bring in Mi 3 and Redmi phones because it’s too much product,” Barra said. Xiaomi, seen as China’s affordable answer to Apple, replaced Samsung as China’s largest smartphone vendor in the second quarter, according to data from Canalys. In India the company saw more than 1,00,000 people pre-register for a supply of 10,000 phones when it launched in July. Xiaomi is looking to carve a foothold in a market that has at least 80 different phone companies fighting it out for market share. On September 15, Google launched the  first of its Android One phones in India aimed at making smartphones more affordable for the masses.

– ETRetail

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