A limited network presence is a major challenge for luxury carmakers, which are keen to expand their market share. They’ve been trying to overcome this limitation and take their product to more buyers in cities where they do not have a physical presence.
Audi of Germany had last year brought the ‘mobile terminal’ concept, as a mobile showroom designed to provide a full Audi experience, in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. Last year, it drove through Kota, Ambala, Hisar, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Meerut, Aligarh, Agra and Amritsar. The concept hasn’t been used outside India.
This year, Mercedes-Benz, largest player in this country’s luxury car market, will be introducing a ‘pop-up store’ concept. It will be similar to a full-fledged Mercedes showroom, with sales, service and spares. This collapsible structure can be moved from one city to the other.
Roland Folger, managing director at Mercedes-Benz India, said the structure would be taken to places where the company does not have a dealership. “We do not wish to only go there with a truck and show vehicles but to set up a temporary showroom, to expose people in the area to the benefits of owning a Mercedes. A variety of products will be on display. We want to reach out in a serious way,” he said. Potential buyers can test-drive the cars and make bookings.
Mercedes will set up this temporary showroom at a Tier-III city for a week to 10 days before moving it to another such place. In this calendar year, it is planning to do this exercise in six cities.
“Some of the people in these cities will for the first time have a feel of what a Mercedes showroom looks like. It will be a brand experience for them,” said Folger.
Mercedes sold a record 13,558 units in the country in the year ended March 31. It has 80 sales outlets in 40 Indian cities and is aware that the next wave of growth will come from outside these. “These retail innovations, coupled with a strategic network expansion in new emerging markets, will take luxury motoring to a completely new customer base, well beyond the established metro markets,” said Folger.
Audi, which sold a little over 11,000 units in 2015, plans to take the mobile terminal to 20 cities this year. These Siliguri, Jamshedpur and Patna. “This brings the showroom to the customer’s doorstep, especially in Tier-II and Tier-III cities, where the brand has received a huge positive response,” said Joe King, head of Audi India.
Beside displaying the cars and Audi accessories, the terminal serves as a hub for test-drives and enables customers and prospects to connect with Audi dealers for enquiries, new bookings and after-sales support.
The Indian luxury car market is estimated at about 35,000 units a year and continues to grow. The leading entities are Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Jaguar-Land Rover and Volvo.
FINDING NEW TERRAIN
Focus on reaching buyers in Tier-III cities
Audi to take mobile terminal to 20 cities
Patna, Jamshedpur and Siliguri are in the list
Merc to showcase pop-up store in six Tier-III cities
Terminal serves as a hub for test-drives & enables customers to connect with dealers for enquiries, bookings and after-sales support