Strategy Digest Vol 1 (Jan)

BMW and Affordability

An affordable BMW sounds like a classic oxymoron. Surprisingly, BMW has gone ahead with a well thought out strategic move to launch the entry level SUV – BMW X1 – in India. The X1’s price tag at INR 22 to INR 29 lakhs puts it in direct competition with the Honda CRVs and Toyota Fortuners of the extremely fast growing SUV segment in India.
The high end luxury car market in India is growing at an astonishing 74%. The playground offers attractive rewards with ever growing sales figures and BMW seems to have played the card just right. The BMW brand tag offers much more value to the Indian customer than a Toyota or a Honda and that is exactly where the BMW X1 scores over the competition.
However, if BMW really wants to conquer the Indian market even more convincingly it needs to capture the depth of the market that extends beyond the metros of India today. It needs to establish a robust after sales service network to make sure that models like X1 realize the sales potential they seem to possess. The X1 is a great launch and it’ll be interesting to see how Toyota, Honda and Hyundai face the new found competition from the grand daddy of automobiles.

The Mobile Store: Ready to evolve

With over 1200 stores and a 45% share of the organized cell phone retail market in India, The Mobile Store has been going great even with a strong pressure on margins. With a drastic shift in consumer preferences towards smart phones and falling price tags, The Mobile Store plans to change the phone shopping experience for its customers.
The Mobile Store plans to develop 300 of its stores across 50 cities into experience stores. These stores will allow users to get a feel of the phone, utilities, apps and new technology. It plans to do away with the cheap plastic dummy phones that we get to see presently. With trained Mobile Store personnel who will help the consumers choose apps and phones according to their needs, it plans to make it interactive for its consumers to make a wise choice while they buy a phone.
This plan undertaken by The Mobile Store is capital intensive and will surely put heavy pressure on the already squeezed margins in cell phone retail. Currently a retailer earns anywhere between 5-8% on the price. Moreover, the market is heavily price conscious and people make it point to get the cheapest deal even after they try out phones at outlets such as The Mobile Store. The implementation of the plan on a massive scale is also an issue with aggressive retailing tactics being employed by a growing number of competitors. 

Bypassing investment bankers in valuations

The selling of Honda’s stake in Hero Honda, Ranbaxy’s sale to Daiichi, Fortis-Wockhardt deal and the $3.7 bn Abbott-Piramal deal among many have a strikingly common story: There were no bankers involved in the valuations. It is a recent trend that has emerged lately when a lot of corporates strongly feel that “No Banker can ever know their business better that them”.
To add to it, more than 80 percent of the banker-madated deals in India are conducted completely by the promoters themselves and the bankers are left to pure mathematical execution. This trend seems to be fully justified and also enhances the confidentiality aspect of the deals. Information leaks have been a major cause of mammoth deals being brought down in a matter of days and bypassing the bankers seems to be a way of avoiding that. Other major examples include the TATA-JLR deal where the valuation was done by Tata’s close team and not bankers advising or executing the deal.
The bankers on the other hands are not losing out on the dealbook business but their profile of work is shifting more towards the financing, fund raising and implementation phases of the deals. It will be interesting none the less to follow the role of bankers in the deals to come in 2011.
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