Aston Martin

Luxury car brand Aston Martin branches out into watches

Isaac Mostovicz writes that selling luxury to a Lambda personality means understanding both how he sees himself and how he wishes to be seen...

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While there was not doubt that Aston Martin is a brand aimed strictly at Lambda personalities, the recent product release by Aston Martin proves it anyways.

Coming optional with the purchase of a new Aston Martin Rapide is a $33,000 watch. And with this watch and your new Aston Martin Rapide, you can lock or unlock their car doors by simply touching the sapphire-crystal face.

Only a handful of individuals can afford to buy even the Aston Martin. Even fewer could afford the optional $33,000 watch. The timing of this is interesting, because while the global recession is receding, it is not completely over, yet.

Watches are a much-loved item amongst Lambda personalities, because they bestow status and are durable. They’re seen as investments and heirlooms.

During the worst pont in the recession, The Wall Street Journal published a column “How to sell a $35,000 watch in a recession”, which offers a look into the new methods that luxe retailers are using to keep sales moving.

After years of double-digit sales growth, sales of Swiss watches have fallen off drastically. Watchmakers like IWC—a 140-year-old company whose watches are considered collectors’ items and generally cost between $3,000 and $300,000—are having to re-learn the old-fashioned art of salesmanship.

The ‘old-fashioned’ art of salesmanship that is used is selling the experience as tantamount to the product itself. In luxe, people buy because it looks good, feels good and it makes them appear important.

He used PowerPoint to impart what he calls the “macaroon technique,” referring to the sandwich-like French macaron pastry. This can be applied to most any product (including, presumably, a Xerox machine) and goes something like this: “Madam, this timepiece (or diamond or handbag) comes from our finest workshop and it has a value of $10,000. If you buy it, your children are sure to enjoy it for generations to come.”

This tactic by Aston Martin to package the watch with the car is an extension of the salesmenship methodology talked about in the Wall Street Journal article: Show a Lambda personality how well their new, ultra-exclusive watch works with their new, ultra-exclusive car.

The expression also suggests the person will have a long family line, which causes them to envision their children and grandchildren as Lambda personalities, enjoying and cherishing this watch that their father, also a Lambda personality, purchased years ago and passed onto them.

A  true Lambda Personality won’t be able to resist it, and Aston Martin knows this.

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Aston Martin pushes hard into the Chinese luxury car market

Isaac Mostovicz writes that Aston Martin's hard push into the Chinese luxe auto market may signal a growing luxe market for the super-rich...

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The race for the hearts and minds of China’s luxe car buyers is on, as Aston Martin joins BMW and Audi in upping production and overall presence in China.

The China Daily reports that Aston Martin opened its flagship China showroom in Beijing this past week.

The store, located at 66 Jinbao Street, Chaoyang District, is more than twice as big as Beijing’s other two Aston Martin stores and is the largest in Asia Pacific. The 500 sq m showroom will display seven of the luxury vehicles each costing roughly 1.3 million yuan.

Given that Aston Martins are typically more expensive than BMW, Mercedes or Audi vehicles, this move suggests that the demand is outstripping supply. This points to a new opening in the market for the super-rich.

While the entire article is interesting, because it further illustrates the growth in luxury goods and demand in Asia, there’s one quote in particular that is quite revealing of the way luxe brands are thinking about China.

Matthew Bennett, regional director for Aston Martin Asia-Pacific, said the following:

“(Beijing) has a growing appreciation for luxury goods and an authenticity of a product, that’s what we’ve been seeing. … “This is the place to be.”

The phrasing is interesting, too. The “authenticity of a product” suggests a targeting of the Lambda personalities, who prefer both high quality and an air of exclusivity to their purchases.

Another statistic worth noting is that about 80 Aston Martin vehicles were sold in China last year. Even upping that number to 100 would allow Aston Martin to retain its shine of exclusivity.

Staysha says of this article...

Extremely helpful atrilce, please write more.

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James Bond and the World’s Smallest Luxury Car

Isaac Mostovicz writes that Bond may find himself with a new ride...

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Toyota and ultra-luxury carmaker Aston Martin recently announced a somewhat surprising alliance, as they released plans to build the world’s first luxury city car, positioned as a “luxury commuter concept”. The car is likely to be the smallest four-seater in the world. It will be based on Toyota’s iQ model, while featuring traditional Aston styling cues. It is set to be built in Japan, but get its finishing touches at Aston Martin’s plant in Warwickshire, UK.

Dr. Ulrich Bez, chief executive at Aston Martin, was quoted in the Financial Times saying “This concept — akin to an exclusive tender to a luxury yacht — will allow us to apply Aston Martin design language, craftsmanship and brand values to a completely new segment of the market”.

In today’s environmental pressures and global economic downturn this car looks like a good option for affluent consumers living in CBD areas, who wants a dynamic car that fits into tiny parking spots and is suited for traffic jams.

The question is, however, if James Bond, who famously used to drive Aston Martin cars in his earlier films, would find this commuter car to have quite the same appeal as the sporty Aston Martin supercars he is used to.

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Where next for Aston?

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

Now that Bill Ford has put Aston up for sale, Jack poses a really interesting question in his comment over at stealthisbrand.

Who is best placed to exploit brand Aston Martin?

According to auto trade press like Evo, prospective valuations vary wildly between £200m and £1billion.

This has very little to do with car sales – which have increased ten-fold in the last 10 years, and everything to do with brand equity…

Is it time that Richemont, or LMVH took over, asks Jack?

I see three challenges:

L’Oreal now owns Aveda and Body Shop, and actually appears, on balance, to be acting as a pretty good parent….

On the other hand, l’Oreal is not just managing the brand, it’s optimising the supply-chains which get these brands to market. Similarly, the profitability of modern carmaking (such as it exists!) is all about platform-sharing, shared development facilities and optimising the communal parts-bin…

What could a luxury goods firm possibly contribute to this? The answer may be ‘quite a bit’.

At present, within Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, the design, performance and positioning of Jaguar is constrained by its need to sit ‘under’ the Aston brand. And vice versa. New, divided ownership would free both brands to live their brand essence more fully.

Aston could move to a much more sporting race-bred focus, and would also be free to move ‘down’ through a Cayman-equivalent, in due course. It would also leave Aston free to re-interpret its Britishness in a much fresher way…

Aston is a much more powerful and transferrable lifestyle brand than Ferrari or Lamborghini…

Jack Yan says of this article...

Excellent analysis of L’Oréal, and the parallel to the modern automotive industry. Capital is an enemy here, as even the Livanos family discovered when it co-owned Aston Martin, and luxury goods’ groups can finance the company effectively. I do like your idea of moving Aston further downmarket provided it strengthens its racing end—that would be suitable compensation for those who choose the brand for its exclusivity and create a very powerful statement for it.
   I can foresee licensing opportunities galore, and Aston should be good at those …

Janus Thinking says of this article...

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