American Marketer


Rolls-Royce bolsters China appeal with elite group meeting

July 25, 2012


British automaker Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is upping its presence among China’s elite through a meeting with the China Entrepreneur Club, a group comprising the most prominent and important businessmen in the market.

The 30-member group toured through Britain this week and included meetings with British officials and other companies and organizations. Given that China was the No. 1 sales market for Rolls-Royce last year, the automaker is likely attempting to maintain this relationship through close, personal contact.

“Our cars attract the very wealthy worldwide and, of course, growing markets like in China is of enormous interest to us,” said Andrew Ball, corporate communications manager for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Goodwood, England. “In a very Rolls-Royce way, we are keen to offer our product to the wealthy in China.

“The CEC is a very interesting club and it is amazing to have a link and a relationship to open trade doors with Great Britain,” he said. “We were very pleased that we were the first stop on their trip here.

“I am sure great relationships and friendships will be born through the meetings.”

BMW Group owns Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

On a roll
The CEC is a group of the most elite Chinese consumers in the business community including entrepreneurs, economists and diplomats.

These are the members of the most vigorous representatives in the new Chinese economy and promote corporate social responsibility among Chinese enterprises, according to Rolls-Royce.

Group meeting

Combined revenue for the members from last year total approximately $309 billion.

The CEC’s 10-day Britain tour included British business before the London Olympics.

Also, members met with former British prime minister Tony Blair, Lord Rothschild, Sir Richard Branson and other British companies and organizations.

Last year, China edged out the United States as the best-selling Rolls-Royce market, with Beijing as the top demographic. Asia-Pacific, in general, grew 47 percent.

Member of the CEC

Relationship building
China continues to be an important market for all marketers, including high-end automotive.

For example, automakers such as Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, Land Rover, Range Rover, Bentley and Aston Martin tapped the growing luxury market in China by releasing new vehicles at the Auto China 2012 car show in April (see story).

“We see a lot of potential in China, but we are an international business,” Mr. Ball said. “While we are delighted that China was our No. 1 market last year and we see a strong performance already this year, we have 90 dealerships worldwide.

“We are very much commissioned by our owners, and that is something that we have found that our Chinese customers enjoy,” he said. “They like making them very personal and that is something we see because of their appreciation of luxury and hand-craftsmanship.”

The way Rolls-Royce markets is through close-knit relationships between dealerships and customers, and this goes for Chinese customers as well.

"No one needs to be sold a Rolls-Royce," said Bob Prosser, CEO of Auto World Marketing Corp., San Diego. "Buying one is a pre-planned purchase decision — an acquisition — made by someone who knows fully what a Rolls-Royce is and what it means to be seen on one.

"However, for the individual doing the buying, as opposed to an agent making the acquisition in their absence, going through the purchase experience should match the quality, image, and price of the product purchased," he said.

Rolls-Royce looks to market in an emotive way, which is probably what the CEC experienced when it visited this week.

“I think that the way the world is going is that products are unique, but commoditized,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, New York. “What really matters is the relationship and the human attributes of the brand – the people that built it.

“How good they are at building relationships, their expertise, their care and attributes, are what sells cars,” he said. “Obviously, Rolls-Royce wants to get sales, but I think that they ultimately want to cultivate long-term relationships.”

Final Take

Rachel Lamb, associate reporter on Luxury Daily, New York