Appealing to “The Youths”
Royal Enfield’s rise is one that’s fairly well documented. Siddhartha Lal brought back the company in a big way and part of the way it was done was to bring younger riders into the fold with cool and affordable motorcycles. Now that the Indian market is going well for Royal Enfield, the company is focusing on global expansion.
The focus for Royal Enfield will be on Western countries, like the U.S., Europe, Australia, and others. Lal told Bloomberg that he wants to be a big brand outside of India and the other markets Royal Enfield is currently thriving in.
“I could be great in India and Brazil and Thailand and Africa,” he says. “But if I’m not in Europe and America, then I’m not a global brand.”
Lal went through school and rode a Royal Enfield while studying. His father owned Eicher Motors, which owns Royal Enfield. At one point, when he was in his late 20s, Royal Enfield was on the brink of being shut down, and he convinced his father to let him run it. It turned out the be the right choice.
“All of this was entirely and only because I was the promoter’s son,” he said to Bloomberg’s Ari Altsteader, using an Indian term to refer to an owner-operator. “A random bloke at 27 wouldn’t have got this job.”
Some of Lal’s first moves were his best. He focused on dealer relationships, pricing of motorcycles, and manufacturing. This helped with the reliability and the perception of the bikes. These moves, plus adding more models and focusing on smart marketing tactics among other things, have helped Royal Enfield become a powerhouse again.
According to Bloomberg, the company sold 824,000 bikes globally the year before the pandemic hit. Harley sold 218,000.
Now the focus is on Western countries. Lal told Bloomberg that the company’s success in Western countries could help make his motorcycles an aspirational product in India and some other markets. The company has already started its onslaught, with a focus on flat track racing and trying to set speed records with Cayla Rivas (a motorcycle racer). More initiatives like this will come in the future I’m sure.
The company is focusing on building enthusiasm around the brand and trying to get a cult following similar to what it has crafted in India and what Harley-Davidson has built in the U.S. It will be a long haul, but at the moment, it looks like Royal Enfield’s making the right moves.
There’s still a lot to do, but the reception of Royal Enfield’s latest models has been good, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds. Royal Enfield has a long way to go to beat out Harley in terms of brand recognition (especially in the U.S.), but it’s making moves in the right direction.