Want to promote cycling as a lifestyle choice first: Giant Bicycles' Aditya Bafna

The target consists of cyclists, triathletes, duathletes and fitness enthusiasts.

MUMBAI: Started in 1972 in Taiwan, Giant Bicycles is one of the world’s largest producers of high-quality and performance bicycles. Known globally for bringing together high-quality craftsmanship, technology, and innovative designs under one roof, it recently made its debut in India, opening its flagship store in Mumbai, in association with Element Retail.

Translating the name Giant into its native meaning would give us fast (Jie), safe (An) and special (Te). The company’s mission statement is “to inspire passion for cycling by creating the ultimate experience for all types of riders, all over the world.” This is possible because it owns and controls the entire manufacturing process. interacted with Element Retail Pvt Ltd managing director and CEO Aditya Bafna and discussed the roadmap the cycling giant is going to follow here in India. Edited excerpts follow:

Tell us more about Giant. How it originated and what makes it the biggest bicycle manufacturer in the world?

Giant is the world’s leading brand of high-quality bicycles and cycling accessories. Since 1972, Giant has combined craftsmanship, technology and innovative design to create the ultimate cycling experience for all riders, competitive to lifestyle. Through its products, people and retail partners, Giant inspires passion for cycling all around the world. Giant was founded on the idea that the best way to inspire passion for cycling is to create the best products and make them accessible to all riders.

Giant has a category for female bikers under the brand Liv. They are designed especially for women’s bodies, rather than just producing smaller frames painted pink or lowering the crossbar, what other brands normally do. Since the last four decades, Giant Bicycles is known for its innovation in cycling technology and representing the global cycling community. Giant has proven to be the world’s fastest bike in the world. They also provide different cycle parts to various brands because of its best in class quality, thus making it the world’s largest premium brand and biggest bicycle manufacturer.

What are your expectations from the Indian market in terms of sales and brand popularity?

We believe that the Indian cycling industry will grow substantially in the next couple of years. The athleisure and fitness sector in India has gained tremendous popularity in recent years as more and more people have become fitness enthusiasts giving a huge scope for Giant to grow in India. With the increasing number of active participants in the fitness community, one can forecast a significant spike in the business.  There is a spillover from running to cycling. Running became a trend recently, but off lately people are taking cycling more seriously as a mode towards fitness. 16 million units of bicycles are sold every year in India, of which premium segment consists of 0.5 million units. In the last 10 months, Giant has sold 800 cycles in India and plans to hit 1,000 units by the end of the financial year. Our intention is to have a share of 50 per cent of the 0.5 million premium units in India. We are expecting a double-digit growth if the Indian infrastructure supports.

Our target consists of cyclists, triathletes, duathletes and fitness enthusiast. Also, people in the age group of 10 - 65 years are our target audience.

We are planning to open 15+ exclusive stores in cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Chandigarh, Pune, and Nasik by March 2020.

What is your marketing strategy to popularise the brand among the masses?

We want to promote cycling as a lifestyle choice before we deep dive into promoting Giant as a brand. The exclusive store that we have launched is an experience centre where we have appointed dedicated trainers who will guide people and educate them about which cycle suits their body type and help them pick the perfect bicycle for them. On the other hand, we are also trying to build cycling communities which will help enhance the experience of cycling. We are already in the process of building one community in Mumbai.

Also, we are trying to reach out to maximum people through social media platforms by educating them on the technology and the quality of the products used to build these cycles.

For now, we are only focusing on promoting the brand digitally. Digital medium reaches the maximum audience especially the youth. Once the brand picks up the pace in the Indian market, we will focus our efforts on re-jigging our marketing strategy to include print.

What about associations with social media influencers and/or brand ambassadors?

For the launch of the store, we have a few strategic influencer partnerships in place with influencers from the fitness and lifestyle industry like CNBC anchor and host Shibani Gharat, Dhadak & Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania film director Shashank Khaitan, Cricket commentator and host Jatin Sapru & fitness trainer Hannah Sim who are passionate about cycling and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Bringing on board a brand ambassador is definitely on the cards for the near future.

Who are your key competitors and what are the key differentiating factors that your brand is going to offer?

Trek Cycles & Scott Cycles both these international brands share a handsome space in premium cycling category market in India. Our complete offering to the riders in better frames, better cycling technologies and more option in carbon made bicycles always give the edge over our competitors.

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