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Writer: exchange4media News Service - Saturday, Apr 10,2004 8:09 AM

Mercedes drives home class consciousness

Daimlerchrysler has hit upon a unique marketing strategy to sell those three-star Mercs to class-conscious family-run business houses, especially in North India.

While the Mercs themselves differentiate between the class and the mass, marketing honchos at DaimlerChrysler are taking it a step further to promote Mercedes-Benz cars based on the pecking order in the country's family-run businesses.

While the S-Class is being marketed to the patriarch of the family and the head of business, the E-Class is for the second in command; the C-Class is for the "commoners" in the family.

"Such a trend is more common in the North where there are more family-run businesses," the Daimler-Chrysler Director for Corporate Affairs, Mr Suhas Kadlaskar, said.

The same holds true in the country's financial capital but at the corporate level.

According to Mr Kadlaskar, "Such a trend is unique to India. Elsewhere, the Merc sells according to the individual's preferences." He said it took a bit of convincing on the part of the marketing team in India to its German counterpart who had not come across such a trend in other markets. "Once we identified the trend, it was easier for us to position our product." Further, Mr Kadlaskar said, family-run business houses are also the ones that go in for repeat orders.

The company is fine-tuning its approach to build upon this trend in Delhi, which is the largest market for Mercedes-Benz cars. Nearly 30 per cent of DaimlerChrysler India's sales come from Delhi, closely followed by Mumbai, with a 25 per cent share. Bangalore and Chennai are next, with 8 per cent each.

In 2003, DaimlerChrysler sold 1,581 cars, which is expected to grow 30 per cent to around 1,850 this year. During the first quarter of 2004, the company sold 534 cars compared with 385 cars during the same period last year.

"The response in the first three months clearly shows that we could in fact exceed our sales target for 2004," Mr Kadlaskar said.

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