No resting on laurels

Why we think Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s reign will last for a while yet.

mercedes_q1_1Sometimes, a succession of killer products can propel a brand to the top of the charts, but staying there is another matter altogether. In the case of Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM), newly crowned as luxury segment leaders, they are already showing what it takes to remain as number one.

To envious rivals, the quarterly media briefings held by MBM are nothing more than ‘gloating sessions’. Most media outlets lap up the happy numbers and publish a rosy picture, but whether they have any positive effect on a customer is debatable. If you need to know, 2,658 units of Mercedes-Benz cars were sold in the first quarter of 2016, representing 2.3% of the overall TIV. Are you dashing off to the nearest Mercedes dealership to make a booking yet?

Georgetown Autohaus on Penang island: Proof that not every Mercedes-Benz showroom needs to be a tower of glass and metal.

Probably not, and Mercedes-Benz Malaysia is well aware of this. Instead of launching straight into the numbers at a recent briefing, MBM’s President and CEO Dr. Claus Weidner kicked off the session by focusing on a wide range of customer initiatives; namely why existing dealerships are being upgraded with fresh investments, how dedicated product experts can make a telling difference on the shop floor (because modern luxury cars are so complex, they might as well launch nuclear missiles), and above all else, why every Mercedes-Benz product must be accompanied by the ‘best customer experience’.

That Mercedes-Benz Malaysia, along with their dealers, are undertaking such efforts at a time when cars are flying out of showrooms is a clear indication that they are under no illusions that the Mercedes brand is impregnable, as many commentators talk them up to be. After all, products come and go (distributors have minimal say in how they turn out anyway), and competitors always strike back (nothing can be done about that either), so why not improve upon what’s within control.

The interior of the Cycle & Carriage City Store located along Jalan Tun Razak (KL) is more akin to swanky club.

Case in point being the string of dealerships (or Autohaus as Mercedes-Benz calls them) recently showcased by Cycle & Carriage Bintang (CCB) – the biggest and longest-serving Mercedes-Benz dealer and partner in Malaysia. In a matter of months, CCB introduced their upgraded flagship Autohaus in Petaling Jaya (a RM7 million re-investment), showed us the charming Georgetown Autohaus (in Penang island) which was painstakingly renewed due to the site’s UNESCO heritage status (a RM4 million job), and then got all swanky with the new City Store dealership located at a trendy strip in downtown Kuala Lumpur (another RM4.3 million).

So despite the buoyant numbers and congratulatory backslaps, you can understand why MBM are not resting on their laurels. Instead, they are busy creating tangible brand values that customers can see and touch, and that’s both comforting and reassuring whether you’re an existing customer or simply aspire to become one in the future.