Abid Hussain Barlaskar
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“Audi customers are young and prefer driving on their own”: Gaurav Sinha, Audi India

The launch campaign for the brand's flagship SUV Audi Q8 includes eight unique artworks.

Audi India has just launched its flagship SUV - the Audi Q8. The brand also announced a campaign to showcase 'The 8th Dimension' and has collaborated with eight upcoming artists to create unique pieces of art. The campaign has been crafted by BBH India.

The ask from the agency partner was to keep to the globally defined communication for the Audi Q8 - 'The 8th Dimension, something that 'exceeds imagination and is beyond the normal'. BBH worked closely with Kunal Anand, curator, art and design director of Kulture Shop, a Mumbai based collective to identify artists with distinct style and aesthetic and who worked with different mediums.

But then, selling luxury cars is beyond 'imagination' alone...

Gaurav Sinha, head of marketing and PR, Audi India, reveals that the average age of an Indian millionaire has come down to 35-40 years from the earlier average of 50 years and that a majority of the brand's customers are in the age group of 31-40 years. “With the younger profile, customers are increasingly looking to showcase their individuality, while celebrating success. We see a positive trend of customers wanting to own performance and lifestyle cars with new body styles. They are also looking for customisation options,” he adds.

Gaurav Sinha
Gaurav Sinha

Sinha says the contribution of tier 2 and tier 3 cities to total volumes is also increasing steadily. “We have been successful with younger audiences, mainly young ultra HNIs. They are young as well as young at heart and prefer driving on their own. Customers are from varied backgrounds including the fashion industry, tech entrepreneurs, sports personalities and actors from the film and television industry,” he says.

The luxury car segment in India makes up for 1.2 per cent of the overall car market with a current share of 35,000-40,000 units. Sales have been slowing down. Reports suggest Audi India sold 4594 units in 2019 registering a decline in the Indian market. The company sold 6463 units in 2018. The scenario has been similar for other players in the luxury auto space.

Sinha explains that luxury car sales have been impacted by high GST rates, import duties, and registration taxes, adding, “We urge the government to reduce GST, import duties and rationalise the vehicle registration cost on luxury cars, across the country. Further, easy lending by the Banks/NBFCs will help expand the market and boost the overall automotive industry.”

But how is a luxury car buyer different from an average car customer?

Sinha says that while a regular car buyer is focused on product features and factors such as mileage, luxury buyers are focused on the brand and how it complements their personality. “A luxury buyer just doesn’t buy a car but also a lifestyle. For example, Audi customers become a part of the Audi Club in India, a platform for Audi customers to come together, interact with like-minded individuals and enjoy other benefits,” he says.

While the luxury car category isn't having a good time, the pre-owned section of the market has grown by over 30 per cent in 2019. Reports suggest the volume is close to twice that of the new car market. However, the growing second hand car market has its own way of benefiting brands.

“There is strong traction in the used-car segment. Audi Approved: plus, the pre-owned car division of Audi India has grown 11 per cent in 2019 and we expect this momentum to sustain in 2020. It not only offers new leads for future customers but is also a profitable business for dealers, so it is a win-win for us,” Sinha says.

Audi is also on its way to evolving into a “service provider” from its current car company form. “We have about 75,000 Audi owners in India who have purchased cars priced above Rs 30-40 lakh and we can definitely offer more services and solutions to them with our understanding of their tastes and preferences,” Sinha reveals. The buzz is, the brand could soon provide access to luxury services like restaurants and premium sporting events.

Marketing luxury in a slowdown

Audi is reaching out to customers directly and has introduced Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) elements to provide a look and feel of a car that can be configured before purchase. Also, genuine Audi merchandise can now be purchased online from the Audi Shop. The initiatives are part of the brand's digital retail initiatives.

“We also do pop-ups and activations in housing societies. This enables us to take the buying experience to customers who sometimes prefer to connect with the brand at their comfort. We were amongst the first to come up with the concept of the Audi Mobile Terminal, where we took the complete showroom to the doorsteps of the customers. These initiatives are specifically targeted since they are mapped with the profile of the society. It is easier to narrow down what product can be pitched to the target segment, which is collectively available at one place,” Sinha explains.

Globally, the brand associates and partners with motion pictures, sports, entertainment, and cultural properties and has continued this trend in India.

Speaking about the campaign, Russell Barrett, chief creative officer and managing partner, BBH India, says, “Our task was to create excitement and buzz around the launch, to reinforce the brand’s presence and technological prowess, and to welcome Indian customers to 'The 8th Dimension'.”

Russell Barrett
Russell Barrett

“Since it is an emotional world powered by imagination, we felt art was the apt medium. This led to the collaboration with eight experimental artists who applied their imagination and ingenuity to create representations of the 8th dimension. Some saw it in terms of an alternative plane, others as a portal to a parallel universe. Every artist's impression was exactly the experience the Q8 delivered. So, in a way, we allowed them to interpret the idea and just worked with them to give it context,” Barrett adds.

Here are the artworks:

By Johnny Ganta
By Johnny Ganta
By Pavan Rajurkar
By Pavan Rajurkar
By Prateek Vatash
By Prateek Vatash
By Prince Lunawara
By Prince Lunawara
By Priyesh Trivedi
By Priyesh Trivedi
Rajeev
Rajeev
Sanskar Sawant
Sanskar Sawant
Yogesh Bhusare
Yogesh Bhusare