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The heady helmet market

Prayas Tiwari

Prayas Tiwari

The heady helmet market

The largest change in market trend over time has been customers’ increasing preference for quality over price. Youngsters today are increasingly aware of the importance of a good helmet
(Photo: Mahendra Khadka)

 According to a recent report by the Department of Transport Management, the number of motorcycles plying the streets of Nepal has risen to a whopping 2.5 million, with Kathmandu Valley alone having a million-plus motor­bikes. And with this rise, the sellers of one commodity in particular have benefitted a lot. Today, you have more options in helmets than ever—full helmets, half helmets, helmets you can flip up, off-road helmets, dual-sport hel­mets, dad passed down-looking hel­mets, helmets… To understand the ‘helmet’ market better, we headed to the largest wholesale retail mar­ket in the valley: Teku.

 

We walk into a local helmet retail shop and sit down with the owner, Shyam Chaudhary, who has been in the business for the past eight years. He reveals that the largest change in market trend over time has been customers’ increasing preference for quality over price. “Some years ago, people would only look for helmets that cost between Rs 500-800 and they didn’t care about anything else. That has changed”. He reveals that young­sters today are increasingly aware of the importance of a good helmet. “They ask how damage resistant helmets are, the ease of procur­ing spare parts, the comfort—all before they inquire about prices,” he says.

 

In these markets, helmet cost ranges from Rs 800 to over Rs 7,000. Chaudhary says his shop sells 6-7 pieces a day on average. And most of his helmets go for around Rs 3,000-Rs 4,000. The profit margin on every helmet sold is around 12-15 percent. “The market is definitely growing. But with that, we also have many competitors,” he adds. Not only in Teku. Helmet shops are sprouting up like wild-grass in every nook of the valley.

 

While the Teku markets cater mostly to the average bike rider, shops like Helmets Nepal also look after high-end customers. “We sell helmets from brands like AGV, Benelli, Steelbird, and Vega. The price increases with sophistica­tion,” says Rais Maharjan, a senior sales officer at Helmets Nepal. The most expensive one he has costs Rs 170,000. Yes, almost as much as a brand new Hero Honda Splendor. With entry of bikes setting you back by hundreds of thousands in the market, the premium helmet sector is definitely getting a good slice of the pie.

 

Recently, online marketplaces have also stepped up to cater to this growing demand. Daraz, a leading online marketplace, today offers a variety of helmets, as you get to choose from 20+ brands from the comfort of your home.

 

“Helmets are no longer the piece of hemispherical dullness they once were. They now have their own identity. Some flashy-hip, some gentle, some queer and some mil­itary looking,” says Adarsha Acha­rya, a helmet enthusiast who owns multiple helmets, of all shapes and prices.