Published on 28th July 2010
Vespa back, and sales exceed expectations By Vijo Varghese Who would say that? Perhaps only someone who is selling well-known products from another era; products that sweep people away with feelings of nostalgia and make them feel young at heart again. So it was. The marketing posture of a gentler time came from none other than the official distributor of Vespa scooters in Thailand. Vespa has long been a well-known brand in Thailand. Ask anyone about Vespa and they'll regale you with stories of turbans rather than safety helmets and loads of textiles that could fill a truck on the back of tiny labouring machines. But time has flown. Vespa is now back in Thailand with a new range of products. Officially launched at the Bangkok International Motor Show earlier this year, Vespa is now positioned as a premium scooter in the local market. After investing about Bt80 million, the official distributor, Vespiario Thailand, aims to sell 5,000 scooters by 2012. It is also planning further investment to expand its showrooms. The main showroom in Thonglor is designed with the modern consumer in mind, with funky artwork and Vespa accessories all around. The only things that are retro about it are the scooters themselves. "We've sold almost 600 units in the past three months, since our launch, which is quite a surprise - even for us. Now we are targeting 1,500 to 2,000 sales by the end of this year. The Thai economy is growing and there are many people willing to pay a premium for something special to move around on. For our customers, the Vespa has much emotional value," said Vespiario Thailand's managing director Pornada Nivatvongs. Priced between Bt99,000 and Bt325,000 the new-age Vespas are not cheap. The version on which the company hopes to focus in Thailand is the LX 150, which is made in Vietnam and comes with a 150cc engine and automatic transmission. The LX 150, which costs Bt99,000, is expected to generate about 90 per cent of local sales. Other models include the GTS 250, costing Bt285,000, and the GTS 300, costing Bt310,000. The new model retaining most of the classic Vespa appearance is the GTV 250, which celebrates 60 years of Vespa history and costs Bt325,000.
Published on 28th July 2010
Pornada said other new arrivals like the Honda PCX, which was priced at about Bt70,000, had made the price of the Vespas more acceptable. While the marketing of the new Vespas is aimed at young trendy individuals in their late 20s, Pornada said customers came from all age groups. Some already own original classic Vespas and want a new one to add to their collection. The expensive GTS and GTV models are aimed at older individuals who are willing to pay for the classic looks. "Since we're a niche brand, we plan to do more community marketing and target selected groups. Our focus will be on lifestyle events and when the number of Vespa owners is big enough, we're planning Vespa trips that will involve travelling as a group. We also plan to support classic clubs," Pornada said. "We currently plan to have 20 dealers by the end of the year. Fourteen of them will be in Bangkok and the remaining four in the North and the East of Thailand. We're also looking at dealers in the South. All of our dealers sell other bike brands as well, but will have a special section for Vespas. It's crucial to have a good after-sales service, and that's one of our top priorities now," she said. Since the LX150 is produced in Vietnam, the company has benefitted from the Asean free-trade agreement, which allows the scooters to be imported duty-free. Currently, the Italian manufacturer of Vespa, Piaggio, produces only the LX150 in Vietnam. If it begins producing other models in Vietnam, these will surely be imported to Thailand, Pornada said. Vespiario Thailand is also considering selling other brands of motorcycles and scooters from the Piaggio group, such as Aprilia and Gilera.