Thursday, April 15, 2004

How to really market a car

If you are a luxury car manufacturer, how do you get a luxury car customer to try your brand? You could make your cars available to rent at companies like Hertz, but you are still making the customer pay to try. What if you provided the cars for free to luxury hotels and either let the hotel drive people around in the car or even just let your potential customer drive the car themselves?

According to this article in USATODAY, that's exactly what luxury car companies are doing at luxury hotels.

From the article:

"Luxury carmakers like the soft-sell approach that hotel settings provide. "We don't sell the car — the car sells itself," Maybach boss Killen says. Hotels like the programs because they get an enticing bauble for guests at little or no cost."

"The Mosaic Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., offers a Mercedes C-class or a Mini Cooper for $10 a night more than the $269 regular room rate."

Being a person that has certainly taken test drives at dealerships and been put off by the limited amount of time behind the wheel and the fact that the salesperson is in the car with you, just the freedom of the experience might be enough to sell me on a car. Looking at the economics, 1 television ad (interruption marketing) might cost the same as the retail cost of one car that is put a hotel. What's the difference? Well, it's the specific targeting to the perfect demographic and the opt-in (guests have to want to drive the car, it's not forced on them and it doesn't interrupt their favorite TV show). For the hotels it's a perfect free prize for their guests (even if they are charging a nominal amount -- hopefully that charge is just an insurance offset).

By the way, for those of you wondering what the uber-luxury Maybach is, just click here for a guided tour (note that Maybachs are sold in "studios," not at "dealerships").

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