Rolls Royce is a brand that has gone through an effective rejuvenation, as revealed in a fascinating interview with CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös in The Times, here (subscription needed). The company has a fourth consecutive year of record sales in 2013, with 3,360 cars sold.
1. Immersive customer insight
It is impressive to see that Mr Müller-Ötvös leads by example when it comes to getting deep, immersive consumer insight. And he doesn't rely use conventional research to get this insight, commenting that “Our customers are not the sort of people who will come to focus groups or fill out questionnaires, let alone return them." Instead he invests time and effort travelling around the world to dealers, and having dinner with customers to get up close and personal. As he says, "This is how we get our feedback, about the cars but also what is happening in our customers’ daily life, what is important to them, what is happening in their markets, what drives them.”
2. Core range extension
Rolls Royce have made clever use of core range extension to grow their core business. First, the Ghost was launched as a smaller, more accessible "baby Rolls", a mere snip at £200,000, a full £50,000 cheaper than the Phantom. Perhaps more important still was the Wraith (below), a sportier model that had injected a bit of dynamism and modernity into the brand.
When Mr Müller-Ötvös took over in the middle of the global financial crisis in 2010, Rolls was selling a thousand cars a year with just the Phantom. Helped by the enlarged core range, the brand's sales in 2014 are expected to be four times this level.
3. Remember and refresh what made you famous
Rolls Royce is famous for craftsmanship and luxury finishing. And these competences are being used today to help customise cars for the demanding, high net worth individuals it sells to all around the world, including "unique colour co-ordinations, stitching of made-up family crests in the headrests and a solid silver Spirit of Ecstasy figurine". To deliver this customisation Rolls Royce employs 1,400 people in the UK, many of them wood or leather craftsmen who help hand-assemble the vehicles.
In conclusion, Rolls Royce is a great example of how to rejuvenate your brand by remembering and refreshing what made you famous. I'm waiting now to hear from any brandgym blog readers who can share first-hand experience of being a Rolls owner ;-)