BMW’s sales volume seems to be declining. After witnessing the slowdown in the sales volume it was expected that the automobile company will be changing its approach to pricing
and financing to make the luxury cars more affordable during a downturn. But Peter Kronschnabl, President, BMW India, made it clear that luxury is never sold through discounts.
Unlike other manufacturers, BMW does not go in for heavy discounts. At the end of the day, if you offer a discount, say Rs. 5 lakh, on every car, a customer would come and ask what the company can do specially for him. So, you end up giving even more. He wants to have his personalized service. The company does tailor-made-discussions with the customers. One customer may want slight financial effort from your side, another may want easier monthly installments by supporting him on the interest, package. In the luxury segment, every customer is different.
When it comes to 3-series, most of BMW buyers are young professionals. Big industrialists go for the X range of products and 7-series models. BMW does not review their product mix to suit hard times and political correctness, as in offering smaller and more fuel-saving cars. According to the President, BMW India, product development is about catching a trend. The President seems to be very conscious about launching electric cars.
BMW has begun to outsell Mercedes in India despite coming to the country a decade later. The reason behind this is that when the company launched BMW in India, they focused in creating a large network of truly luxurious dealerships. Since the company did not find a true luxury dealership benchmark in India, they benchmarked it to BMW’s global network. Today, a BMW dealership in India looks quite like those in Munich or Tokyo.
The company hosted luxury cars in 5-star hotels and did events at dealerships. They focused very much on below-the-line marketing because they wanted potential buyers to get in contact with the brand, experience it and be convinced by it. Moreover, the company had a very bid focus on after-sales.
No matter what the environment is, the company manages to grow sales of its luxurious vehicles. Novelty is always a high priority in the eyes of the customers. So, an automobile company always needs to have the latest products. Around 2-3 years back, BMW launched its new 7-series, new 3-series and new X range in petrol and diesel variants, and many more. Now, even Hybrid cars are being offered by the brand. BMW never delays its investments, because the owners of the company very well know that there is always an upswing after a downturn.
Of the total BMW cars sold in India, 45 per cent are 5-series and about 40 per cent are 3-series. Typically, luxury brands are the last to suffer in a downturn and bounce back first because the target group is affluent. The marketing environment seems to be very challenging for each and every automobile brand. All are fighting to raise their volumes. It is believed that the better one is set up in good times, the better he survives in bad times. Same is the case with BMW. It is still doing well because the brand has established very well in India.