Merc uses differentiation lever to stay ahead

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla | Updated on: Jun 13, 2019

Luxury car brand bets on experiential marketing to bond with its customers

As the automotive space undergoes massive disruptions, traditional car-makers are compelled to keep pace with changing customer expectations.

Even a brand associated with luxury and quality like Mercedes-Benz has to do more to stay ahead of the competition and this is where experiential marketing is playing a key role. Though brand awareness is no challenge for Mercedes, differentiation in an ultra-competitive market is helping it deliver state-of-the-art driving experiences.

The German car-maker’s ‘Luxe Drive’ is a case in point. A unique customer engagement initiative, it is based on the three pillars of adrenaline, gourmet and music, where the brand pampers consumers by letting them indulge in a luxurious experience.

The event, held in cities which may not have a direct dealership presence, provides participants a holistic brand experience, with patrons also getting an opportunity to drive the range of Mercedes-Benz vehicles on specially designed tracks.

While professional racing drivers demonstrate the brand’s technological prowess and luxury quotient, upbeat music sessions and epicurean delights from renowned chefs wow more than the taste buds.

While each ‘Luxe Drive’ event is as much about the raw excitement and adrenaline rush as it is about experiencing luxury first-hand, the company is also engaging with consumers with its AMG Emotion-Tour, which allows consumers to delve deep into the world of the Mercedes-AMG brand.

The AMG Emotion-Tour is an event meant for performance-driving enthusiasts. Consumers can get to experience the performance, sportiness and comfort of the AMG cars by either signing up for motorsport events or driving down a dream route to experience the brand first hand.

Experiential marketing invites an audience to interact with a business in a real-world situation. Using participatory, hands-on, and tangible branding material, the business can show its customers not just what the company offers, but what it stands for.

By letting consumers indulge, the brand can witness first-hand what excites and engages its audience. The insight helps create future marketing campaigns, target relevant customers through advertising and understand which pain points to alleviate in future rounds of product development.

The company’s ‘Brand Tour’ initiative is another offering, aimed at reaching potential buyers who have not yet had a chance to experience Mercedes due to the absence of a showroom in their city. Last year, ‘Brand Tour’ travelled to 14 locations across India starting with Aurangabad, Udaipur and Allahabad before moving on to Haldwani, Ranchi, Shimla, Tirunelveli, Vizag and Gandhinagar.

Last year also marked the launch of ‘Mercedes-Benz Circle Elite’, where its customers can access some exclusive benefits and privileges by simply calling a hotline number.

On the other end of the spectrum is ‘Service on Wheels’ represented by a fully equipped service truck with all the tools and service professionals to attend to customer cars. It has covered 25 cities and over 2,500 km since its launch in July 2018.

Martin Schwenk, MD and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India, says this is particularly targeted towards Tier II and Tier III centres where there is no direct dealership presence. “We see immense potential in these markets,” he adds.

Availability of customer service and dealership outlets in these areas is helping drive sales. “Last year, we opened the first-ever luxury car dealerships in Jodhpur and Aurangabad. This year, we have launched outlets in Kolkata, Kochi, Delhi and Nagpur,” says Schwenk.

With 95 outlets in 47 cities, Mercedes has now hit the throttle in Tier II cities such as Nagpur, Indore, Chandigarh, Thane, Vadodara, Jaipur and Surat, which are set to be the engines of future growth.

Published on June 13, 2019
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