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Old 22nd February 2010, 14:14   #1
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Default An unlikely PR war. Between 2 very unlikely players (Mercedes & BMW)

You'll never see a Merc advertisement that brags about their train-like torque & 0 - 100 timing, about their ride quality being the "best", or how they look the same after 10 years of use. Neither will BMW brag about its top speed, super quick steering or the obvious advantage in "g" handling forces. You just wont. Subtlety & understated class are the key words here. BMW will simply say "The Ultimate Driving Machine" and Merc "Unlike Any Other". This is what Mercedes & BMW have always believed in (with few exceptions). It's as if they expect the reader to know that they are the best and that there is no real need to brag on.

Until now, that is. You see, the stakes are high in India, which is a key emerging market and one of the rare to record a consistent MOM / YOY growth in 2009. Question is : WHO is actually the no.1 luxury brand? Merc led up until 2009, but in the entire of last year, BMW emerged as the best selling luxo-marque in our country. Riding high on the new E-Class, Merc wrested itself back to the No.1 position in January 2010 (Link to detailed analysis (January 2010 - Indian Car Sales Figures & Analysis)).

Then follows the PR machinery, clearly working overtime, to drive the message home. This news article from the Times of India is an example:
An unlikely PR war. Between 2 very unlikely players (Mercedes & BMW)-merc-article1.png

And the very next day, BMW releases a rather large ad whose only purpose is to state that BMW is "The leading luxury car brand in India". Literally:
An unlikely PR war. Between 2 very unlikely players (Mercedes & BMW)-bmw-ad-2.jpg

It's egos at play here, and it doesn't get better than this. Better for whom? US, the customers. We've seen how BMW brought in 0% finance schemes, and Merc equipped their new E Class with a full feature list; a complete U turn on their older policies (Link to full review). Then, we had the cut-price 320d Corporate edition at 22.95 lakhs and 6 lakh rupee discounts on the previous-gen E! Throw in Audi who is trying to carve out a piece of the luxury pie for itself. Again, it doesn't get better than this and I, for sure, can't wait to see how this battle of the biggies pans out.

Coming back to the core issue, who is the current No.1? I'd say one month doesn't make a hero. If we are to consider the last quarter, 6 months or 12 months, it's BMW on top. Merc is celebrating much too early.

Source for both screenshots : Times of India - ePaper section

Last edited by Dippy : 23rd February 2010 at 13:38. Reason: Correcting errors
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Old 22nd February 2010, 14:28   #2
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Yep BMW seems to have the No 1 share in terms of sales in the last 1 year, but Merc probably has the No 1 mindshare and Brand Value perception. Plus the vechicles they have already put on the road since 1995 will not disapear for a while.

But frankly the customer segment that both these brands attact would probably appreciate them carrying on with their earlier subtle PR rather than getting loud.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 17:06   #3
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BMW for sure.

With average age of luxuary car buyers are falling drastically in India, future belongs to BMW I would say.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 17:16   #4
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BMW is the more Intelligent Brand. And yes MERCEDES have always in a very "CREAMING THE TOP LAYER" manner milked customers until BMW came along.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 17:33   #5
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I feel it's too early to say that whether it's BMW or Merc because Audi is also fast catching with the market and why can't this year be for Audi?
But since the most of the BMW buyers are young buyer they have many chances of taking the lead this year too.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 17:37   #6
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Hats off to BMW for doing it from Jan-Dec 2009, but I think they are celebrating a little too soon. While they are making gorgeous new cars some of the factors that played in their favour were:

1. Newer brand so I know a lot of people who bought BMW's only because MB has been here for some time.
2. MB had the E class for a complete model change and we all know how bad the previous E was.
3. MB also had a few important markets like Ahmedabad without a dealer for a few months which too played in favour for other car makers.

While these are just a few points I'd also love to know how they do from April 2009-March 2010?

But like GTO rightly said, the only people who will benefit out of this is US consumers.

While Jan was belonged to Mercedes, they better have a car to counder the 320d corporate edition, or else it's a segment they will lose out on big time. I'd say they should get the C180 CDI in classic trim.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 21:19   #7
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BMW's main strategy was that they brought their whole portfolio to India within just 2 years. Models like the 3 and 5 had so many variants to choose from. While Merc was just fighting the battle with the C,E and S. With the X1 coming in the next few months, i bet BMW is going to beat Merc by a large margin. Now, BMW also has the 320d at just 23L. That is a whole 7 lakh cheaper than the C220CDI! This will definitely give BMW an edge and the 3 will be the best seller in the segment. And with more localisation from the Germans now, the battle is going to get tougher. Audi should start taking India plans more seriously now.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 21:45   #8
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Somehow i feel that MB was taking its position in the country for granted & never really offered the complete range of cars they made. They went ahead with a snobbish attitude that comes with owning a MB too. BMW coming in was a total game changer. Suddenly we had cars that not only had the snob-quotient, but appealed to our sportier & younger side too. We had performers & boy, they threw in a lot of them. The person who planned out BMW's path in India has managed to pull off a major coup to even compete, let along exceed the sales of a brand that's been here for decades.
All things aside, the better cars will win; much like the E-class helping Merc to edge back. It'll be interesting what'll happen now since the new 5-series is due to hit Indian shores in July. Consumers are going to be spoilt for choice & deservedly so, considering the moolah they're spending!
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Old 23rd February 2010, 09:26   #9
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MB is a MB, the brand value is huge in India. BMW is still no where near it.

BMW is one all young (?) people like, and they are catching up with sportynees as their USP (though they have much more than that). Throw in an Audi or a Jaguar BMW may be up for some fight. But getting MB out of people's mind will take some time.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 10:29   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACM View Post
but Merc probably has the No 1 mindshare and Brand Value perception
Quote:
Originally Posted by cuttingcrew View Post
MB is a MB, the brand value is huge in India. BMW is still no where near it.
In the eyes of the common man, I would agree that the three-pointed star is the three-pointed star. However, bring in the target customer who is spending 50 lakhs on a car. Chances are, most of these customers have a certain level of international exposure and hold BMW in the same prestige as they do Mercedes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonkeyMan View Post
And yes MERCEDES have always in a very "CREAMING THE TOP LAYER" manner milked customers until BMW came along.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicmaker23 View Post
Somehow i feel that MB was taking its position in the country for granted & never really offered the complete range of cars they made.
I will agree with this line of thought. Mercedes was the ONLY premium player in India for a full 10 years. In this time period, the E-Class' pricing went from 22 lakhs to 50 lakhs. To top it up, 30 lakh rupee C Class' didn't have the amenities that cars costing half as much (e.g. Laura) came standard with.

Till this date, Mercedes refuses to offer the 5 year complete ownership packages that BMW does. A lousy 2 year warranty is the best they can manage. Sorry, no extended warranties either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by S350L-E240 View Post
Hats off to BMW for doing it from Jan-Dec 2009, but I think they are celebrating a little too soon.
BMW is celebrating too soon? IMHO, leading the sales charts for an entire period of 12 months is a mega achievement for a brand that's launched only 4 years back in India. I mean, they had a 10 year handicap to Mercedes!

Quote:
While Jan was belonged to Mercedes, they better have a car to counder the 320d corporate edition, or else it's a segment they will lose out on big time.
Solid point. The BMW 320d Corporate edition has taken BMW to the lead of the 30 lakh segment; this after being beaten black & blue by the C Class over the last couple of years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theragingbull View Post
BMW's main strategy was that they brought their whole portfolio to India within just 2 years.
Truly. BMW has surely achieved a lot in a very short span of time.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 10:40   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post



Solid point. The BMW 320d Corporate edition has taken BMW to the lead of the 30 lakh segment; this after being beaten black & blue by the C Class over the last couple of years.

So the 3 series has finally overtaken the C-class ?! I missed that epic moment as I haven't been following the sales chart thread of late.

MBIL will certainly launch the C-class stripped down Classic version soon enough. That could change things, for most buyers in India the 3 pointer star is still the first pick when they climb on the luxury car bandwagon.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 10:49   #12
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Could the BMW overtaking Merc be attributed to the emergence of self driven car owners and/or the new ownership from salaried white collar?
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Old 23rd February 2010, 11:12   #13
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IMO MB is so popular in India, reason is long presence of it and majority owners of this kind of luxury cars prefer rear seat rather than driving. While BMWs are for driving pleasure not to be idle in rear bench.

3 and 5 series are fun to drive, rear is cramped(3 series), not so comfortable(5 series) and run flats are spoiling the ride comfort.

I personally like the 7 series for ultra luxury by heart but mind set is for S class only, so these all may the reason BMW might not be the No.1 compare to MB in future!!
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Old 23rd February 2010, 12:52   #14
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A Benz is and always will be a Benz in India - this level of brand recognition is something BMW hasn't even come close to achieving. Even before MBIL came into the picture, the 'go-to' Luxury marquee was always the MB!

MBIL is actually responsible for spoiling the image of a Benz! With Laura owners running around saying we have features in our 18lac car than you don't in your 30+ lac benz - it ends up creating a gap which till date exists and is slowly but poorly being filled by the Superbs/Teanas- hopefully the stripped down 3er can help create a new segment for the 'Entry Level Luxury' brands @24lacs rather than 30+.

Having said that, competition is King and the monopoly is now broken! BMW with its super aggressive approach has taken the fight to MB and has rapidly caught up. With the new 5(2010), X3(2011-?) and 3(2012) - BMW will have an ALL NEW generation of cars to compete with MB's fledgling lineup (Most cars are 3 years old on avg). This should by all means provide an edge to BMW, until the pendulum swings the other way.

Given the choice to pick between a BMW/MB on competing offerings in a segment my picks would be as follows

1. C > 3
2. New 5 > New E
3. 7 > S
4. GLK > X3
5. X5 > ML
6. CL>6
7. Z4>SLK

I Honestly believe if one compares 1=1 across the board, it will end up a tie or in favor of BMW.

Last edited by Speeding@160mph : 23rd February 2010 at 12:53.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 13:00   #15
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Guess what was on the ET's front page today & this comes after yesterday's BMW advert

An unlikely PR war. Between 2 very unlikely players (Mercedes & BMW)-mb.png

An unlikely PR war. Between 2 very unlikely players (Mercedes & BMW)-mb1.png

Last edited by Technocrat : 23rd February 2010 at 13:07.
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