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Marketing professor: & # 34; Good small series, bad small series '

Oliver Heil
Interview with Marketing Professor Heil
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Mr. Heil, what's wrong with car manufacturers who offer limited special series?
Heil: L imited editions, if they are properly managed, can increase branding and generate additional profit. The raised fire position is to be viewed as an investment for future sales. Incorrectly managed, they quickly destroy brand value and profit. For example, Ferrari has had an excellent limitation strategy for years. This can also be seen in the residual values: the used Enzo is often worth more than new.

Which negative examples did you notice?
Heil: Porsche probably built a few GTs too many, which was already evident in the difficulties to sell the entire print run at the desired price. Mercedes completely failed to limit the SLR. As everyone can see, this damaged the sales value as well as the repurchase value. But there is also the opposite case.

Heil: Excessive limitation is also dangerous. Lamborghini, for example, conjured up the Reventon, a fascinating automobile with a limitation of 20 copies. It was proudly reported that the edition would be sold out in just a few days. The additional profit can be estimated at around 20 million euros. The sell-off speed of the Reventon strongly suggests that the limitation was not perfectly managed here - more units could have been sold with a high degree of probability, which would have increased the profit slightly by 100 percent. And that with an improvement in the brand position.

Manufacturers don't learn from such experiences?
Heil: Yes. At the moment it can be seen that Porsche has apparently learned: The limitation of the new Speedster to 356 copies is clever - you could have chosen other numbers, such as 911. But that's just a positive example strong> Who is still wasting potential in your eyes?
Heil: Bugatti and Maserati are not taking advantage of this opportunity. With Bugatti in particular, the risk of a model not being sold out can be avoided here. The size of the market for these exotic automobiles can be estimated relatively precisely and the production adjusted, which would certainly be very dear to the often exotic buyersRepurchase, possibly of the four-door model, would certainly not be detrimental. Maserati has not used the limitation lever so far. The same applies to Rolls Royce and Bentley. This is probably too late for Maybach.

To what extent?
Heil: Maybach managed the brand unhappily but also had a very tight foundation. To be more precise: The car was a little too close to the S-Class, and so was the design. What was missing was something special and unique - as with Rolls Royce. No assistants who were always on call could help with the Maybach - the clientele in this luxury category already has something like that anyway.

Does such a limitation only work for luxury automobiles?
Heil: No. Limitation is also possible for so-called mass models, just think of classics like Golf Rolling Stones or Opel Corsa Steffi Graf. However, here the market size is more difficult to estimate econometrically. The instrument of limitation must also not be misused in order to sell more difficult-to-sell models with extras. This is particularly harmful to the brand.

You have published a so-called 'Luxury Index' in your current book. What does it mean?
Heil: The 'Luxury Index' identifies the range of a product category with regard to the lowest and highest asking price. The cheapest watch costs around five euros and the most expensive series-produced watch, a Patek Phillipe, costs around 1.6 million euros - the index here is 320,000 and this figure indicates that the watchmakers have succeeded in producing an enormous range of prices and bringing them closer to consumers . For automobiles, the index reaches a rather meager value of 221 - less than one percent of the watch index. This signals that automobiles are largely being offered too cheaply. Because the Luxury Index for automobiles is in the lower midfield - the automakers have not succeeded in enforcing a 'multiple' as high as, for example, the watch manufacturers in the market. Enormous potential is simply wasted here. Levers such as limited editions, custom-made products and uniquely upgraded products are simply used too seldom.

You also deal with 'top-down brand management' - what does that mean?
Heil: In general, this means that the umbrella brand is sucked out 'below' instead of strengthening it 'above'. Take Porsche from the last few years as an example. The 911, icon and almost the sole basis of the brand, is sucked out by the Cayman and Boxster. It should be noted here that all of this may work for a certain time. However, once the fire is sucked out, it will easily take decades to restore the original oneRestore fire position. Mercedes and BMW also sinned with their mass models.

Heil: Because they could not resist the temptation to grow faster and faster . Other widening of the range, such as the Cayenne, M, X5 or Crossovers, can also damage a brand, not just smaller models.

But surely the Cayenne and X5 are sales hits from Porsche and BMW that have tapped new target groups rather than damaging the brand?
Heil: It is precisely these new target groups that do not really fit into the core of the brand. A Cayenne simply can't be a 'real' Porsche if you look at the brand essence. This requires special and outstanding properties compared to the competition - as the 911 possesses relative to other sports cars. In our opinion, Audi has been the only German manufacturer to successfully expand in practically all directions. Particularly noteworthy here are the 'upwards' expansion in the form of the muscular S8 models and the rapid R8 racers. Just imagine that Rolex is selling a watch for 300 euros - but certainly a success, as Aldi likes to say, 'only for a short time.'


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