Porsche Cars Canada is bringing on a new marketing director as the luxury vehicle maker works on ways to broaden its brand profile. Marketing recently spoke with Porsche Cars Canada CEO Alexander Pollich about the company’s future marketing and promotion strategy.
What is Porsche Canada’s current marketing approach?
Marketing for us is an important piece of the puzzle. We follow the classic four Ps: product, price, place and promotion. Place is more in the network development area, which is taking care of existing dealers and adding new dealers. Brand is very important for us, as is driver experience. We have also embarked on the whole digital and social media arena. Marketing here is also making sure the customer requirements at the national level are being conveyed into the product development process. The work marketing does isn’t just advertising, drive events and brand building, but also making sure that all future products on the road are geared to expectations of our customers.
Will this approach change with the new marketing director?
We have a corporate strategy that is defined to 2018. Here in Canada we have built our own 2018 strategy to ensure that we see composite growth in the future. In Canada we have enjoyed great momentum. We grew 30% in new vehicles deliveries last year and 34% the year before, year over year. We want to maintain that going forward. We have activities underway, including the expansion of our drive programs and other drive experiences across Canada. It’s a chance for a new person to bring new creative input and ideas. The general strategy has been defined and will need to be updated and implemented.
Who is your current target market?
The average customer is predominantly males in their 50s, but this is certainly not a good enough segmentation for us in terms of pointing our marketing efforts in the right direction. At Porsche, we pride ourselves on giving the opportunity for people to really build and enjoy the most personal car. The Macan (sports car) has been a game changer since it launched a couple of years ago. We’ve been able to attract a younger clientele, based on early data that we’ve seen.
What marketing channels are most successful for Porsche?
We, as a small company, are limited with our marketing dollars so need to be diligent and efficient to achieve the best impact. We don’t do a lot of TV commercials, because it’s fairly expensive and there’s quite a bit of spread [in audience]. We’re seeing a shift now from classical advertising and promotion to social media and digital. We are working with our dealers to define a strategy to cater to this new situation. We know from our research that 60% of our customers, when they walk into the Porsche centre, know what they want including the type of car, down to the trim, because they’ve done research. And 90% of that 60% walk out with the car they came in for. We definitely want to strengthen our digital presence and offering in social media. We have just created a new position in the marketing department for digital marketing. The person will be fully dedicated to that area. We truly believe this is the way of the future.
Why did Porsche Cars Canada wait until now to dedicate someone to digital and how was it handled previously?
Porsche always has been a lean organization with conservative planning. However, with the rapid growth over the past few years, we were able to implement a position with these responsibilities. Also, the shift in consumer behaviour with online researching requires additional efforts to align dealer and OEM digital marketing activities. Because of the rising importance of the “virtual dealership” we had a project to assess Porsche’s virtual presence in Canada. We wanted to establish a brand consistent picture across all channels and support the dealers in their efforts. We also wanted to increase our presence in social media with local channels.
Previously, Porsche AG in coordination with Porsche Cars North America was handling all social media accounts directly and we occasionally added Canadian specific content to the global channels.
Storytelling is an integral part of marketing. What is Porsche’s story and how has it evolved in recent years?
The brand has a long family history. Recently the company went back into high-level, competitive motorsports. That has been a big boost for marketing. Now of course we have great stories to tell, fantastic events (and victories) and incredible cars to talk about. Here in Canada we have tapped into that with our own race series, the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama, which is going into its sixth season in 2016. We are currently building an activation marketing platform around it.
What else are you working on to market Porsche in Canada?
We are also continuing with our mobile display, which we piloted in Yorkdale [mall in Toronto] in November. It includes a replica of the 919 Hybrid race car and 2016 Cayenne S E-Hybrid, with a charging station and digital elements. The next stop is [St.-Laurent Mall] in Ottawa next week and then it will tour the rest of the country until June, with a total of six stops. It was our idea and is now being picked up by other markets. We also plan to open the first city showroom in North American in the Quartier Dix 30, an upmarket shopping mall in the city of Brossard, Quebec, in the early summer. It won’t be a full fledged Porsche centre, but a display of cars and their digital elements. As buying patterns change, people don’t want to go to the auto mall and kick cars from various competitors. While they shop for other high end products they can inform themselves about our products. We’re very excited to put this on the road shortly.
Porsche Cars Canada’s agency of record is Red Urban and PHD is its media buyer. This interview has been edited and condensed.