Why is Audi number 2?

Michael Perschke

In just a few years, luxury car brand Audi has moved up to the number two spot in the luxury car segment in India. The January-March 2012 quarter saw Audi India's sales rising by 41% quarter-on-quarter. And with Audi selling only 5,511 units in India in the whole of 2011, as compared to 3,10,000 in China, the potential of the Indian market in the segment is quite conspicuous. In an interaction with Audi India head Michael Perschke, Rajat Guha decode the DNA of the company's India's operations, its marketing strategy and what the future holds for the brand. Edited excerpts.

The last quarter of FY 12 has seen Audi's rise to the second position in the luxury car segment in India. What can we expect next?

Our ambition is to become number one, not number two. Number two is an important step towards that goal. We have always said that our objective is to be number one by 2015, but the way things are going, we might be able to achieve that target earlier. We are going to open many more dealerships over the next two quarters. We thought that once we have the third quarter and the dealers, then we can aim for number two. But it happened in the first quarter itself, which was beyond our expectations. In India, in 2015, we plan to sell at least double the amount we plan to sell this year, which would mean that we are looking at anything between 16,000-20,000 units for 2015.

How is marketing for a luxury auto brand different from that of any other car brand?

The conventional above-the-line, below-the-line combine might not be necessarily enough for the luxury segment. For luxury, you need a significant amount of classical above-the-line brand building, you need significant amount of events for people to touch and feel the brand and it also helps in breaking into peer groups. Then the digital space is also extremely important now. New dimensions include social media. Then there's peer-to-peer marketing. And all of this needs to be supported with a public relations strategy. You might follow the brand for a certain period of time but you will start believing in it when consistently over many touch points you feel that the brand is on the right track. You need to put all the pieces of the puzzle together to create an image for the brand. A modern brand needs 15-20 different touch points.

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