VW, BMW and Mercedes like to advertise superior German technology. This has enabled them to outperform the competition in China and the USA. But in the future, that might not be enough, a study shows. There is still room for improvement, especially in the retail and distribution areas.















Car dealership in northern Germany: Buying a Lego product is sometimes a more pleasant experience than buying a 30,000-euro car, experts criticize.


Hamburg - No Audi advertisement can do without a reference to Vorsprung durch Technik. Mercedes wants to offer its customers "the best or nothing". And Volkswagen claims to deliver "The Car" to buyers. With this self-confident positioning, Germany's carmakers have also come a long way outside Europe: In the USA, Mercedes and BMW dominate the market for luxury cars, and in China Volkswagen has been the most successful foreign car producer for years.

A comprehensive study by Lippincott, a subsidiary of the consulting firm Oliver Wyman that specializes in brand strategy, shows how skillfully many German automakers present their brands worldwide. The brand experts surveyed 30,000 consumers in five markets worldwide on a total of 3,000 brands. In the process, they filtered out the respondents' impressions of several dozen car brands - and the experiences they associate with each brand.

According to the study, BMW and Mercedes-Benz enjoy a high reputation even among non-customers - and this is true in both China and the USA. In addition, the Bavarians have particularly loyal customers in both countries who also identify emotionally with the brand. VW and Audi only manage this in China; in the U.S., non-customers don't have a particularly clear idea or both brands.

Overall, German car brands are perceived by respondents as leading in both markets and are well ahead of most domestic brands. But the advertising focus on superior German technology may soon no longer be enough to maintain these top positions, the study says.

Customers expect a brand experience - also from car manufacturers

This is because the once significant differences between manufacturers in safety systems, vehicle quality and reliability are shrinking worldwide. In addition, car brands are losing some control over how they present themselves to customers. Instead of rushing to the nearest car dealer, potential buyers today prefer to obtain information via the Internet.

Younger customers under 40, who will account for 30 percent of all global car purchases in 2015, also have different requirements for their vehicles. Reliability and comfort they assume. They are less enthusiastic about technical details - they want cars to fit seamlessly into their living environment.

In the future, car brands will have to communicate more strongly what makes them unique, the study says. In the future, successful brands will not only have to make good cars, they will have to offer their customers an end-to-end brand experience. This starts with the Internet presence and extends from smartphone apps to thoroughly styled car dealerships and workshops.

But where exactly do automakers need to pull the lever? manager magazin online asked two experts from Oliver Wyman about this.

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