Tube Investments of India
 
Tube Investments of India
Tube Investments of India Ltd.
Formerly TI Financial Holdings Ltd.
TI's top honchos pedal a new mantra
 

Promoting the cycling experience
Senior executivesof TI Cycles led by the company's President, Dr D. Raghuram,
hitting Chennai at the end of the 1,200-km ride from Pune earlier this year.

Chennai, Nov. 11
On Wednesday, a motley group of 10 cyclists left Udaipur on a 700-km journey to New Delhi, covering several towns in Rajasthan such as Chittorgarh, Bhilwara and Jaipur. The journey will take them six gruelling days. The group, however, is not a cohort of young cyclists but the senior management of TI Cycles of India, led by its President, Dr D. Raghuram.

Earlier this year, this same group, comprising the company's heads of marketing and finance and general managers, had cycled over 1,200 km from Pune to Chennai.

Two more rides on high-end Cannondales and Bianchis (which TI Cycles also retails), and on its own Hercules Ryders, are planned for this year — a 500-km journey from Kolkata to Bhubaneswar and a 700-km journey from Chennai to Kanyakumari.

So, why is the top management of TI Cycles, part of the Murugappa group, cycling out of their air-conditioned offices and sweating it out on the country's highways? Faced with stagnant sales for cycles over the years, promoting the cycling experience was TI Cycles' big idea.

As Dr Raghuram explains, “As market leaders we needed to get the category growing. So far growth was led through product and price strategies and about three years ago the placement points were upgraded to exclusive branded stores that moved closer to residential areas and now to top it all the promotion strategy has shifted from cycles-led to cycling-led.” TI needed to make cycling a mass movement.

A storm of cyclothons

And mass movement it did, with TI organising 3,800 events last year around its core theme of fun, fitness and freedom rides. This financial year, it expects to wind up with at least 5,000 events organised. The long-distance cycling marathons, Dr Raghuram says, rub off on its dealer community along the way. For, they organise town hall meetings with the TI team in schools along the route, where a cycle is gifted to the school topper and the students are given a talk on the benefits of cycling. Coverage in local media along the way creates the buzz around the expedition. “These rides also give greater credibility to the management internally where workers and staff need to understand that cycling needs to be promoted as an experience,” adds Dr Raghuram.

During the year, TI also organised ‘cyclothons' across many cities. Cycling enthusiasts who connect through Facebook are also supported by the company to organise the ‘FFF' rides and in cities such as Chennai; very often rides are organised from the city's outskirts to Mamallapuram, 50 km away, where riders can wind up for breakfast. “Cycling on snazzy bikes is now being perceived as a cool thing to do by the young,” Dr Raghuram adds. In fact, the ongoing cycling expedition can be followed on a blog as well.

The buzz around cycling as a healthy and green thing to do is paying off as TI is seeing sales double in its “mass premium”, Rs 5,000-Rs 10,000 price band as well as in its high-end imported bikes brands. The topline this financial year is expected to see a 26 per cent value growth. TI Cycles, a division of Tube Investments of India Ltd, notched up revenues of Rs 940 crore in the previous financial year.

Making chunkier cycles with better-looking graphics and cycles with battery power will be part of the effort to get the young teens, who are raring for a two-wheeler, to get on to a cycle.