The Rebadging Road Not Taken
- Gepubliceerd: vrijdag 01 april 2016 07:48
- Geschreven door René
For this one, i'm very happy that the road was not taken, because the buyers did not accept it.
Rebadging is a common theme, mostly used in the auto-industry. Brand A wants another model on the market, and it is wat too expensive to develop a completely new one, so you shop at brand B (or C, or D) and buy and build their model in cooperation, slightly change the headlamps and grille and name it your own brand. Recent example: Peugeot 108, Citroën C1, Toyota Aygo and even the rare Aston Martin Cygnet were all build on the same basis and rebadged. The pros are that many garageholder can repair multiple models with the same parts, keeping stock and costs low. If it works, many buyers are drawn to the own brand's identity. If it fails, the marketing didn't work and the brandowners were too agressive in producing, damaging one or more brands in the process.
Rebadging for Puch mopeds failed in the end. At first, it seemed to work very well. Back in the late 80's, the twowheeler division got split up. Cycles were sold to Bianchi, which rebadged their mountianbikes. For a short while, it worked a little bit, but not with great success. Production was halted for several years for bicycles. For the mopeds, well, the Maxi Plus was sold to Indian Hero company and produced under the name Hero Puch. It did excellent in local sales and even internationally, the model did great in countries such as South-Africa and America. Even in the Netherlands is was imported by another importer than Puch, but with no success. In retrospect, it was marketed wrongly for the Dutch market, and got a bad reputation as being "imitation". The model however was fully original but came from another country and manufacturer.
The Puch Supermaxi - with the new larger airfilter on the right side - was bought by Turkish Maxwell. With many new parts (unknown to many dealer and customer), deviating parts and the name Maxwell Puch, it also got an instantly bad reputation and carried itself to the graveyard. Problem? Again, the marketing from another importer than Puch itself.
But then we had the Piaggio adventure. First, Piaggio cut costs and redesigned the Maxi with new parts, more plastic and cheaper quality in paintwork. That was undercaught by the excellent decades of marketing from the Puch company. Special actions, limited editions and free extras (such as helmets, all-risk insurance and clothing) keep drawing the buyers back and Puch kept being the number one brand in sales in The Netherlands (for a full 28 years no less!). But Piaggio wanted to quit building the Maxi, for several reasons. Granted, it was their decision, but in that decision, also their responsibility.
The Puch brand needed fresh models, and quickly, if they wanted to stay on top of their game. A new marketing strategy was set in motion and soon the first step was made: scooters by Puch.
With Piaggio's Sfera being a big success as the NSL (New Scooter Light), the design department quickly came out with more models. The Zip was born. For the Netherlands, to keep the largest marketshare, both the Zip and Typhoon were rebadged. This left the unsuspected competition behind by miles and they were completely surprised by the move. Again, in 1993, and 1994, Puch stayed at the top in local sales. But the Maxi bacame a problem, with exorbitant prices and less and less quality.
So, the first Piaggio did, was to look for their own models to be rebadged. The importer wanted the successful Gilera Citta rebadged for a new Puch model. Once again, as a Puch fan, i opposed then and still do. Citta-buyers were a completely different audience than Puch Maxi buyers. Different pricerange, different quality, different parts. People simply would not accept it in my opinion. Thus came Piaggio with another option: rework the Maxi frame with as much lying around Piaggio parts as they could find. The P1 was born.
No more Magura handles, no more a Bosch ignition, more plastic parts, a supersized headlamp which broke all the time, you name it. Sales fell quickly and dramatically and Piaggio demanded change for the Puch markets, so rebadging came back as the only option, seeing that the rebadged scooters were a success. But people went on summerholiday in Italy aswel, and came back with the true notion that Puch was becoming a rebadged brand. Many buyers were brandlovers and so, with the dissapearance of the Maxi models, the brand had more and more struggle to survive.
The P1 got the old headlamps back as a solution and the Z-Two and Zentih were born, together with a rebranded foreign model from Manet Motor, which was imported as the Puch Z-One. Cheap as hell, with a licence-produced Maxi Motor, but the quality was hell aswel. The buyers were upset and disgusted and after just one year, the Manet Korado was imported under it's own name. But it all was too little, too late. In a final attempt to turn the tide, Piaggio dug up and old luxurious moped from the past and rebranded it as the Puch Boss.
But The Netherlands is a proud moped nation with a rich moped history, and customers knew that this wasn't a Puch anymore. With the (quality)failure of the Z-One/Korado, the dissapearance of the Z-Two and Zenith and the (failed) rebranding of the Boss model, the adventure for Puch (and the Maxi) died in 1998. It took up to 2005 to sell of the entire stock and the rebadged scooters were going to be sold under the original Piaggio name.
This is the story of the little (Maxi) moped that could, and simply not would die, due to agressive marketing from the manufacturer. Puch Maxi has been a very unique moped, in limitless variation across the world, with an adventure ranging from the mid 60's up to 2008, when Manet stopped with the production of the Maxi Motor. Maxi has sold millions world-wide, it forced countries into legislation (laws), it created the term 'moped' and 'mofa', it was unbeatable in sales for 28 years in The Netherlands and it is the most rebuild model by owners on the planet.
Even today, original secondhand Puch Maxi's find new owners who get their first riding experiences on this awesome two wheeler. Puch has a rich history and tradition and the Austrians has given the world a legacy to be proud of. If you ever owned one, you know what i'm talking about. Puch owners are proud owners for life. Listen to their stories, their continuing adventures. All because of a strong little moped from Graz, the Puch Maxi.