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Merc CEO’s luxury lessons in India

Updated on: Aug 20, 2015

It has been a memorable stint for Eberhard Kern


As Eberhard Kern, MD & CEO, Mercedes-Benz India readies for a new role in Europe at the end of next month, his three year stint here will come in handy in a market that he is actually more familiar with.

Kern has been responsible for almost doubling annual volumes and helping Mercedes stage a strong comeback in India. He will now draw on his experiences of finding, attracting, retaining and serving ultra high networth consumers in his new stint in Europe.

Kern believes that the Indian luxury car customer is more forthcoming and aspiring. "There is a shift in mindset that has paved the way for success of the luxury car segment over the last couple of years," he said at a recent interaction in Mumbai.

"With the introduction of Mercedes’ new design language, we have seen the average age of our customers drop to 35 years. We are now increasingly preferred by young successful Indians who are on the lookout for a luxury car brand," he added.

New generation cars such as the A-Class, B-Class, CLA-Class and GLA-Class have drawn young customer groups to the brand. According to Kern, they are “overwhelmed” by the new design language. Mercedes has also seen aspirational buyers from other brands switching loyalties.

"The increasing affluence in India combined with high aspiration of its consumers makes the prospect for luxury car brands even brighter here," he said.

Kern then rattles off statistics on India’s luxury automobile industry which is just 34,000 units compared to its total tally of 2.7 million units, a mere 1.3 per cent share. This is in sharp contrast to developed markets where the share of luxury cars is close to 8-10 per cent.

Kern expects this segment to grow to 38,000-40,000 units in India by end-2015, up from 33,000 units last year and an eight-fold jump from just 4,000 cars sold in 2007. By 2020, sale of luxury cars is expected to speed up to 100,000 units annually.

Published on January 23, 2018

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