Though the standard automotive model – multi-purpose cars increasingly better equipped – is still something that consumers in developed markets aspire to and that remains dominant in emerging countries, a growing part of customers also looks for more exclusive vehicles which can reflect social status and life mode. To respond to this dynamic, brands have switched their ‘traditional’ marketing method – essentially focused on products’ assets – for its experiential aspect which tries to establish a strong emotional link with the final consumer.
For many years now premium car manufacturers have understood how important experience can be. It is no coincidence that product testing has become the most used but more so the most efficient tool to win customers and increase loyalty! Beyond the simple road test at a dealership, manufacturers challenge one another with all kinds of new concepts to assert their brand and reinforce the value of their products, looking to foster brand preference. Considering that context Driving Experience programmes have become true cornerstones in the devising of marketing strategies across the Premium segment.
Our study observes Driving Experience programmes on 5 major markets: China, USA, Europe, the Middle-East and Russia. It aims to highlight major trends in terms of event formats developed by the main premium players and their challengers.
More than 170 events oserved and analyzed on 5 major markets
Questions raised by the study
Main event categories observed
In order to analyze and compare the 178 events observed, we have decided to consider them according to 3 main categories: tactical events (68% of cases), permanent programmes (13% of cases) and test centres (20% of cases). Each category meets different challenges whether about improving a manufacturer’s brand image, supporting dealership network or promoting an innovative technology.
Our research essentially focuses on events addressing direct consumers. Therefore in-house programmes (dealerships training, sales force motivation…) and media events (press launches, comparative testing…) were not considered.
Trends & tendencies
Customer experience globalization
The 3 segment leaders – Audi, Mercedes and BMW – hold one or several global driving experience programmes. With such event formats they primarily aim to standardize the driving experience while also spreading brand messages in a single voice. In order to do so, brands usually rely on 4 key success factors.
Leaders vs challengers, differences in the balance of programmes
Challenger brands such as Lexus, Infiniti or Acura, do not rely on event systems similar to market’s leaders. Their strategies are rather oriented towards reputation/familiarity than consideration which explains that different balance. However similarities between leaders and challengers have also been noted in some countries.
Experiential roadshow, supporting local business
Within each examined area, brands mainly rely on roadshow as a tool to get in touch with consumers, covering a whole area and supporting the local business. These events, though devised by headquarters for most of them, intend to get dealerships largely involved. In each region we have identified the exact role a dealership network plays in developing these touring events.
This work on Driving Experience programmes follows monthly assignments completed by ORECA Events as part of its marketing watch role. Having observed, detailed and analyzed over 170 events throughout a 2-year period (2013-2014), the study reveals or rather confirms information about Premium car manufacturers’ expectations, needs and behavior.
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Expert in automotive and driving activities, ORECA Events has been supporting players within the automotive industry as well as enterprises across varied sectors for over 25 years, working on their brand & business issues. Relying on its history and experience, the agency can develop clear and relevant responses with an innovative positioning. Its fields of expertise include driving experience, corporate events (seminar and track days, sporting incentive, sports public relations), logistics (hiring VIP spaces, motorsport hospitalities) and automotive marketing consultancy.
Today ORECA Events employs 40 people full-time and organises over 150 events each year. ORECA Events is a part of the ORECA Group, major motorsport player in France and worldwide for over 40 years.