It serves as clear evidence that China’s ultra-wealthy have the confidence, resources and hunger for high-value, long-term purchases. In such an accelerating market, how can a brand navigate through the marketing landscape, with a clear roadmap to provide their customers with an experiential journey?
We spoke with Sophia Sun, Marketing Director of Maserati, (pictured) to understand how they drive engagement and inspiration from young and wealthy Chinese consumers.
How does the brand speak to its potential customers this year, whether online, offline and via the various channels available?
The question can be understood as the digital transformation of Maserati’s communication with consumers in China market.
Firstly, in terms of retail, we’ve already settled in T-mall, and at the same time, we are having in-depth co-operation with key Chinese platforms. We co-operated with Alibaba because of its scale and also level of data insight in how Chinese consumers across the entire nation are behaving in terms of preference.
We started our digital CRM business strategy years ago. This includes co-operation with Tencent, which not only offered a chance to establish direct contact with customers through WeChat, but this year, we have launched a deeper collaboration with Tencent Games. The newly launched new Ghibli and our future models will also use Tencent Auto Intelligence, which is the first time ever for a luxury car brand.
In terms of digital content, it’s all about giving consumers fresh and creative content that’s powered by digital information and data. This includes gathering insight from the social platforms such as WeChat, Weibo and Douyin (China’s TikTok), to the content output of vertical websites, Bilibili, Xiaohongshu and so on. Whether the platform for releasing content is specific, it’s still vital to collect the insight across all platforms in order to gain the most detailed understanding.
Whatever the channels are, we are trying to essentially transformation from “listen to me” to “we listen to you”, and from brands saying “I’m waiting for you” to “I’m looking for you” to our consumers.
While we are going through ongoing digital marketing transformation alongside the development in society, at the same time, we also provide online customer integration experiences via integrated marketing.
For a luxury car brand like Maserati, there are many different stages of interaction. It’s starts with reaching consumers online to interacting with them fully at the consideration stage, so that customers will have increasingly more intimate contact with products and brands. This can be through a series of test drives and offline activities with dealers that goes beyond simply trying the car and going away. Even the trial and consideration phase needs highly personalised interaction.
China’s super luxury car drivers are often shown to be a generation younger than elsewhere globally. How does Maserati China speak to young consumers?
First of all, Maserati’s communication with millennials and Gen Z is based on sincerity. We respect, accept and understand them firstly, then talk about getting close to them and communicating with them.
Globally, Maserati has been “changing for young people” and “innovating for young people” in terms of our talent framework, creative ideas and bridge building. In China, we also made a lot of attempts in embracing new social contact and giving new experiences to young people, and the responses from the younger generation really impressed us a lot, which also proved that the changes were effective.
Facing those young potential owners, Maserati will concentrate on studying their preferences across their lifestyle as a whole, and communicate with them as they prefer. This means both research and having the talent ourselves that is from the same generation, able to know innately what makes them tick.
Maserati stays aware of relevant events, topics and viral happenings that millennials and Gen Z are buzzing over in China, to see what’s cool, what is unexpected and what’s piqueing their interest and attention-span.
As well as this, it’s also about what we do in terms of future-looking services that present the widest choice and personalisation possible. Of course, our inherent Italian passion, elegance and natural coolness are traits that the young generation are already seeking.
What’s the brand strategy for China’s social platforms?
For the platforms, as mentioned, we mainly place emphasis on the channels that are popular among the young generations, such as Xiaohongshu, Douyin, Weibo and so on. For the content, we hope that what we express is more than a product itself, but an experience.
What does experience mean? One example this year is that Maserati has collaborated with Tencent Games and launched three Ghibli game skins in ‘Game for Peace’ which created a new way for young people to experience our products. A lot of gamers got their “exclusive Maserati” in the game and deeply experienced Ghibli’s signature engine sound and excellent driving performance. This co-operation enjoyed a huge response on social media, with many young people sharing their experience of having a Ghibli in the game and showing their love to the brand.
At the same time, we also focus more on engaging with influencers/KOLs who are particularly recognised by their distinctive, creative and alternative characters to show our synergy with China’s modern generations.
Maserati hopes to show young people a clear brand attitude, as well as resonate and deeply connect with those young customers though our distinct “labels”. This year is the first year of Maserati’s new era, we also re-defined our brand image with the key word “Audacity”, a word that fully demonstrates Maserati’s commonality with young people – cool, bold, passionate and full of creativity.
Looking at customer preferences of models, specifications and customisations, how does the mainland China customer differ distinctly from elsewhere? And are there differences in regions or provinces?
It’s obvious that the Chinese auto market including luxury car segment has shown a younger trend in recent years. Taking Maserati as an example, the mainland China market now has already become the youngest market for Maserati. Those young elites here not only have diverse preferences, but also are keen on expressing their unique tastes and individuality through personalised luxuries or even customisations. They need to know that super luxury is uniquely theirs.
From our experiences, most young elites prefer Levante and Ghibli as their daily drive, as the two models are full of distinctive charms. As for optional packages, they also pay more attention to personalised fittings that provide the finest quality available. They also look at a special body colour, unique alloy wheels, and luxury interior leathers. Limited-editions and higher-performance cars are also growing in populariy. It’s all about standing out with something that they feel they have created.