What is your most unforgettable brand experience

Austria's car market at a glance

Austrians love their cars. According to Statistics Austria, 353,320 new cars were registered in 2017 alone. This is the highest value since 2011 and 6.2 percentage points more than in the previous year. An analysis of the ten most important brands in 2017, which accounted for more than two thirds of new registrations, shows that VW remained the front runner with a share of 16.6 percent, even if the growth was not as great as in 2016. Skoda, in third place in 2016, was able to claim second place with an increase of 19 percent. The number of new registrations from Opel declined, with Opel falling into third place with a share of six percent. Among the other top brands, Ford, Renault, Hyundai, Mercedes and Seat increased, while BMW and Audi reported declines. The registrations for cars with alternative fuels increased by more than half in 2017.

Reasons to buy

According to a Statista survey from 2016, buying a car depends on many factors: 60 percent cite price as the most important criterion, 50 percent cite consumption and operating costs, and 37 percent each see safety, equipment and comfort as the three most important decision criteria Car purchase.

The brand and design play a rather subordinate role. According to a survey by the Focus Institute, the time of year also plays a not insignificant role in the decision to buy a car: In the summer months of July and August, the annual average advertising spending is less than ten million euros, while the values ​​are lower in September and double October with spending of 20 million. In other words: The question of which car to buy is usually decided shortly before the end of the year.

The most popular models

Even if the brand is supposedly little decisive in buying a car, at least the model is: among the world's best-selling cars in the first quarter of 2017, according to market research company focus2move, the VW Golf is third with 220,140 units. Second place is occupied by the Ford F-150 pick-up truck, which was bought around ten percent more frequently than in the same period of the previous year. The Toyota Corolla took first place with 297,241 models sold.

Holistic brand experience

In order to attract the attention of potential customers, the corporations come up with more and more complex measures. A holistic brand experience is particularly in demand in the premium segment: the showroom should become a stage, the brand should emphasize its luxury character and customer needs should be better covered. These are the requirements of the new showroom concept that Mercedes-Benz has now presented. The "Best Customer Experience" marketing and sales strategy is intended to create a new brand experience at the point of sale through the combination of spatial design, more innovative consulting processes and the introduction of digitization in consulting, sales and service.

“With the new brand identity, we are creating an innovative world of experience for our customers. The combination of personal contact and digital elements in advice, sales and service turns our point of sale into a point of experience, ”says Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales. In this way, the quality of personal advice should be significantly improved: The atmosphere of conversation between advisors and customers should benefit from media that supports the dialogue and “the new world of experience in the car dealership”. Thanks to new forms of representation, all information about the vehicle would be even more vivid for the customer. Not only the customers benefit from the new brand identity, it is also a clear signal to the approximately 6,500 Mercedes-Benz locations worldwide. The stationary trade should remain a mainstay in Mercedes-Benz sales as a personal contact point for all customers and interested parties, even in the age of digitization.

Emotional decision

Other automakers also take for granted that simply making good cars is simply not enough as a sales strategy. Mazda is convinced that buying a car is an emotional decision, even when you buy your first car. Car buyers would have "a clear idea of ​​beautiful design and would like to emphasize their own personality in some form by choosing the car."

Buyers wanted to be “sustainably satisfied with the choice of their car,” says Heimo Egger, Managing Director of Mazda Austria: Even for customers who have no financial framework when choosing their new car, the choice of vehicle must at least meet their individual mobility requirements. “As a family with a dog, for example, you won't be happy in the long run with a two-seater roadster as the only vehicle in your household,” says Egger. Once the framework has been defined, the aforementioned emotion comes into play.

Customer profiles and savoir-vivre

At DS Automobiles, the premium brand of Groupe PSA, it is assumed that the models of the brand are bought by customers who drive a premium model but at the same time do not want to get lost in the crowd of other premium manufacturers: “The desire for French savoir-faire The focus here is on automotive engineering and the French lifestyle, ”says Christoph Stummvoll, who heads the press department at Peugeot, Citroen and DS Automobiles. Mazda works with customer profiles in order to find out exactly which type of customers buy a particular model for which reasons and how the target groups are addressed. These profiles should describe the mobility preferences, model preferences and budget situations: “We try to understand the customer journey and the touchpoints better in order to reach the customer with the right message at the right touchpoint at the right time. Depending on the model series, we have created customer target profiles that describe potential customers very well. This makes it easier to address the desired target group, ”explains Egger.

Art and culture for premium

According to Stummvoll, DS Automobiles is operating in the premium segment with regard to the target group, “namely with customers who are looking for the individual and unusual, but affordable, automotive experience for everyday driving. These customers can be found in virtually all age groups, but of course in the A-class, who cultivates individualism, with a passion for art and culture. ”Accordingly, the target group is addressed very specifically and individually, currently mainly through customer relationships - Activities. In addition, DS Automobiles uses geolocalized online marketing with a current focus on Vienna and Upper Austria.

'Be quick, learn, adapt and be quick again is the motto.'

However, in order to become even better known within the target group with an affinity for culture, it is of course important that DS Automobiles is committed to the cultural sector in accordance with its focus. Therefore, the brand maintains a cooperation with the United Theaters of Vienna on the one hand, and the artist and cultural manager Daniel Serafin was also won over as a brand ambassador in Austria. Several communication measures, cross-media online and offline, are planned for 2018 with Daniel Serafin, but Stummvoll does not want to comment on them yet. As an international example, however, he refers to the cooperation between DS Automobiles and the famous Louvre art museum in Paris.

'Experience' the brand

At Mazda, too, some brand-specific features are taken into account, for example the basic philosophy of how cars are built: “We call this philosophy 'Jinba Ittai', which means something like the unity of driver and vehicle. We focus on the driver, which is why we continue to build cars that are controlled by humans, not computers. For this reason we rely heavily on 'emotional test drives'. This is the only way the customer can 'experience' the Mazda brand, ”explains Egger. For this year, the brand is relying on a large corresponding project that will be present throughout Austria from May to September, the “Mazda Routes 2018”: “This is about making the most unforgettable test drive of your life. An exciting project that we are really looking forward to, ”says Egger.

Digitization will also play a key role in 2018. Targeting, creative approach and advertising material, special placements and moving images are currently important topics that Mazda is intensively addressing. According to Egger, the brand has already been able to gather some practical experience here: “Placing beautiful banners has long been too little. Digital touchpoints, retargeting and targeting on platforms where potential customers actually are, as well as creative addressing of the respective target group are now essential. Mobile marketing first is another key to success. The motto is to be quick, learn, adapt and be quick again, ”he explains.

Which means that Mazda should also be at the forefront in the future: According to a Google study, 71 percent of all customers who buy a car use their smartphone for information only.

[Maria Steinwender]