Top luxury carmakers Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi are increasingly using iPad apps and online campaigns to reach out to tech-savvy customers, particularly in smaller cities and towns where these global brands do not have showrooms.
Mercedes-Benz recently equipped its sales consultants across the country with an iPad application called iSales, which enables users to engage with its cars in a virtual domain and customise the car before making an order.
"Earlier, customers believed in going to showrooms, scrutinising brochures and test-driving the car of his choice. (Today) customers are more networked, tech-savvy, digitally engaged, and with preferences changing, we want to reach the customer faster," Debashish Mitra, director, sales and marketing, at Mercedes Benz India, says.
With sales of Indian premium and luxury cars, like the rest of the car market, expected to grow at its slowest pace this year, the three German luxury carmakers-engaged in a fierce competition to take or regain markleadership-are leaving no stone unturned in their bid to reach car buyers.
Mercedes Benz's iSales
iSales, which is available only in select countries, allows 360-degree views as well as customisation of colours, accessories, equipment and interiors.
"A customer can craft the car of his aspiration through this virtual tool," Mitra says. "They have a complete understanding of the car, even before physically examining or test-driving the car after approaching a showroom," he says.
The iSales tool has finance options and a sales consultant can book an order within minutes of the confirmation.
BMW's Mobile Car Configurator
Market leader BMW India has an iPad app called 'mobile car configurator' that allows customers to individualise the car by choosing from a wide range of colours, upholstery, wheel rims.
BMW is driving an offline initiative too to reach new customers. It recently launched seven mobile showrooms at Karnal, Agra, Dehradun, Jamshedpur, Patna, Bhopal and Nashik. "BMW India has millions of fans and many of them come from emerging cities. With this travelling showroom, we can bring as many customers to the BMW fold," Andreas Schaaf, president of BMW Group India, says.
"These showrooms will give customers in emerging markets an opportunity to experience the brand, test drive vehicles, interact with product experts and avail promotional finance offers from BMW Financial Services," Schaaf says.
Audi's Digital Platform
Audi India, the fastest-growing luxury carmaker, recently shifted its focus from mass media advertising to digital through social media, search engines and mobile marketing. It also uses iPad apps such as Audi mobile sales assistant with brochures, showroom trailers, videos, 360-degree view and basic configurations.
"The online medium might not always directly provide leads or sales through campaigns/activities, but acts often as a primary medium in terms of information gathering prior to actual purchase/purchase decision making," Audi India MD Michael Perschke says.
Audi India has been using a strategic mix of classic online, mobile marketing, social media, online advertising and search engine optimisation (SEO) search engine management SEM /SEO to aid the sales process. It has also launched a digital version of its in-house magazine on iPad.
Author: Lijee Philip
Image courtesy: Reuters
Source: The Times of India
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