GASGAS: How It’s Positioned
GASGAS’s National Marketing Manager, Rosie Lalonde, speaks candidly about how the rebooted brand is now ‘positioned’ within the KTM Group.
With KTM buying GASGAS more than a year ago now, it’s common knowledge that the new-generation GASGAS mini, enduro and motocross models all share a greater majority of their major components with the KTMs and Husqvarnas that roll off the same production line in Austria. So if that’s the case, how does the KTM Group go about differentiating these all-new GASGAS models from a brand positioning point of view? We sat down with GASGAS Australia’s National Marketing Manager, Rosie Lalonde, after the Australian media launch for the all-new 2021 models for an insight…
TM: Five or six years ago, when KTM bought Husqvarna, there was lots of talk about brand differentiation. In fact, KTM all but pretended that Husky didn’t share the engine and chassis platform. This time around, with GASGAS, KTM seems to be playing a much straighter bat. KTM is acknowledging that the component base of these new GASGAS motorcycles is common to KTM and Husqvarna, so there’s lots of talk on how KTM plan to position GASGAS instead.
RL: Exactly. KTM has taken a very different approach with GASGAS. In fact, it’s the complete opposite of what happened after buying Husqvarna. With Husqvarna, the marketing, the brand and the dealers were all kept completely separate. This time around, with GASGAS, the strategy is to utilise the foundation of the KTM Group of brands as a performance base for GASGAS.
Husky and GASGAS were two very different propositions for KTM when they purchased each of the brands. Husqvarna came with 110 years of motocross and enduro history, while GASGAS was best known for its trials bikes, right?
That’s right. GASGAS was more synonymous with Spain and trials bikes, and that niche enduro and hard enduro market. For the 2021 models – produced in Austria as part of the KTM Group – the brand has a much broader model footprint. GASGAS still has the trials bike models, but motocross and mini models have been added to the range for the first time. I think what’s really interesting is that no one is shying away from the fact that GASGAS is part of the KTM Group. It makes total sense to embrace the proven performance of the KTM Group and to inherit, if you like, KTM Group’s background in R&D, in parts support and in customer service. In other words, utilising the resources that the KTM group has built up over the past 50 years.
It feels like there’s now an acceptance within the group that GASGAS may cannibalize some sales from KTM and Husky, but with a broader price point offering, the three brands will collectively be able to steal sales from other brands outside the group.
You know how it is; it’s all about the size of the piece of the pie. We don’t want to cannibalize sales from our group’s brands. However, if GASGAS can offer a customer an opportunity to be introduced to our brands for the first time, that’s where the group is now better positioned. So if they’ve wanted a high-performance motocross or enduro bike in the past, but may not have been able to potentially afford one – or they have shied away from the more aggressive styling, aggressive marketing, and aggressive performance – then GASGAS’s positioning will appeal more to these customers. Remember also that KTM and Husqvarna models in particular come with a lot of premium features that the average trailbike rider doesn’t necessarily want or need.
Or necessarily want to pay for!
Exactly. So GASGAS comes with a very intentional component spec and pricing structure that will help introduce customers to the group. That’s the brand’s core message. As you’ll see in the brochure, Andy, GASGAS is capable, daring, vibrant and inviting [laughs]. Seriously, though, the brand’s focus is all about getting back to basis, reinforcing that sense of community, and riding with your buddies for fun.
In other words, for average riders, GASGAS is a less intimidating offering; a more accessible pathway into the KTM Group’s brands, right?
Absolutely. For some people, KTM’s core message about ready-to-race performance is too aggressive. Others may see Husqvarna as too sophisticated with its premium componentry and premium pricing. GASGAS, on the other hand, makes a simple promise of fun and good times with lower price tags than the other two brands.
From a performance point of view, though, these new GASGAS machines share 90% of the other two brands’ componentry. Meaning there’s a risk of you selling their performance short, isn’t there?
Possibly. But we believe that messaging is key to ensuring GASGAS will be an introduction to the group’s performance brands. I mean, these GASGAS machines are not introductory bikes. To me, something like a TT250R is an introductory bike into the sport if you want to legitimately learn how to ride an off-road motorcycle. But GASGAS is designed to be an introduction to the performance range of motorcycle brands in the group. And as someone who works across the three brands, I think that’s very exciting.
In your presentation at the launch, you said you expected 20% of new customers coming into the group from KTM and 30% from Husky, but 50% via GASGAS!
Yep. We think GASGAS allows us to potentially bring a customer across from a less expensive brand or a less performance-oriented brand; someone who hasn’t seriously had KTM or Husky on their radar in the past. GASGAS will help get them in the door. For example, at the launch, I heard a few test riders say that the GASGAS 450cc motocross bike felt like “the Clubman’s 450”. I thought that was cool and really on-point because it recognised that the bikes don’t come with any extras an average riders doesn’t want or need, and that it was a fun and forgiving bike to ride. In other words, the GASGAS was unlike some of the other bikes in the class; the terrifying, super-powerful beasts that just want to eat you as an average rider. It was great for us to hear confirmation that GASGAS had actually positioned this bike where they said they would position it – for that average rider. Even if you don’t ride motocross all the time, you can still jump on this bike and have an absolute blast. You’ve got high-performance suspension and lightweight, agile handling, but you don’t have the terrifying power that you might get on a KTM or another brand.
One of the things that GASGAS gives the KTM Group for the first time is a trials bike. And a damn good one! Does that also give you the potential to up-sell a GASGAS trials rider to one of the brand’s non-intimidating enduro or MX models?
Absolutely. And the other way around, too. Look at GASGAS Factory MX rider, Aaron Tanti, at the launch, when he jumped on a trials bike for the first time in his life. After five minutes, he was sweating more than he does after a 20-minute moto, and he instantly realised the sort of bike handling skills that the trials bike could teach him; skills he could apply to the motocross track. Before he went home form the launch, he was hitting me up for a GASGAS trials bike [laughs]. Speaking of trials bikes, you have to remember that trials is one of the only motorcycle championships that KTM Group has not yet won. And we pride ourselves on our racing results. The group’s brands have competed in – and often dominated – all these other motorcycle championships around the world, but there’s now an opportunity to do the same with trials.
At the launch, there was talk of “condensed model line-ups” in the both enduro and motocross ranges from GASGAS – only four enduro models and three MX models. I get it that this aligns with the “keep it fun and simple” message, but do you think a 450 and 500cc enduro bike will be missed in the Australian market?
Possibly, because the 500 and 501 enduro models are big sellers here in Australia for KTM and Husky, respectively. But in Europe, where the trails are tighter and more technical and there are fewer areas to ride, those aggressive, big-powered big-bores aren’t as popular as they are here. Plus, as those 450s and 500s require an advanced skill level to ride off-road, I can understand why – from a worldwide perspective – GASGAS is only offering the smaller-capacity four-stroke enduro models. You’re not going to put an introductory or beginner rider on one of those big-bores. But you never know. Australia is a big market for the KTM Group, so things may change in the future. It’s the KTM Group, so never say never!
And the same thinking with Gasser’s MX range, right? With the 125cc two-stroke and 250 and 450cc four-strokes, GASGAS has all racing classes covered. But do you think the intention is to stay with that condensed model-range philosophy?
With GASGAS, it’s all-new, so we’ll see. I honestly don’t know. It will also be interesting to see where their electric technology goes.
Why is it that GASGAS bikes have been added to existing KTM dealers, but not Husqvarna dealers? What was the thinking behind that?
It’s an interesting one, and this directive came directly from the factory. The way I understand it is that, in Europe, the best dealers are KTM dealers. And the factory wanted GASGAS to be positioned alongside KTMs in their premium dealerships. So in Australia, we’ve simply followed suit with that directive. That said, I do think the brand values for GASGAS and KTM are more aligned. Plus, with the enduro ranges, pairing GASGAS and KTM gives customers the option of either a shock linkage or a PDS set-up. Husqvarna, with its 115 years of history, is more exclusive. So it more fitting that the brand stands alone in dealerships, whereas GASGAS is all about community, and KTM is all about ready-to-race performance.