As more manufacturers plan to produce ‘premium’ offerings in the UK market, CAP warns that customer satisfaction outweighs luxurious dealerships and memorable advertising.
Global advances in engineering, materials and design technology have resulted in the potential for more brands to enter the luxury segment, many of whom aim to launch ‘premium’ models in the near future.
However, CAP argues that the customer experience of actually owning the car when inevitable problems arise is what sets genuine premium brands apart from those which merely launch higher quality, more expensive products.
CAP Consulting’s Matthew Freeman points to the success of Lexus in the United States as an example of achieving premium status from a standing start.
He said: ‘Lexus became the leading premium brand in the US by making customer satisfaction the central focus of the brand. When it decided to recall the LS only months after launch, all recalled vehicles were dealt with in a mere three weeks and returned to their owners washed, vacuumed and with a full tank of fuel. In doing so, Lexus transformed a technical issue into an example of the brand delivering on the key promise: we will not let you down.’
Freeman also argues that simply emulating existing premium brands won’t guarantee success in this sector for new entrants.
He said: ‘Luxurious dealerships, memorable commercials and clever product placement all have their part to play, but the benefit they can deliver, at best, is only parity with existing brands. And with the premium space getting ever more crowded, going ‘above and beyond’ the norm is vital.
‘New brands face an even greater challenge. The historic experience of Japanese and Korean brands entering the European market shows that customer scepticism can be a challenge to overcome for any car type. But those manufacturers managed this by reassuring their customers that the risk of buying into a hitherto unknown quantity was safe to take.’
He added: ‘It’s no longer enough to offer large, expensive limousines, it is also essential to understand that premium means best in class and offering a place as part of a community. New entrants into the premium car sector must understand how to achieve the same sense of ‘belonging’ for their customers.’