In 2018, international car brand Aston Martin produced a print publication to help appeal to a new breed of high net worth customers. Their new marketing initiatives had been classy, however traditional, in approach, and a number of other auto brands had begun to encroach on their luxury marketing territory.
This publication was impressive, Aston Martin quality reinforced in every page. The world’s top portrait and fashion photographers, from Anton Cobijn to Rankin, were commissioned to shoot a range of cars worth around $40m across 11 countries. The whole project took a year to complete and produced a 475-page publication that weighed astonishing 5 kilograms.
At a time when marketing budgets are being squeezed, Aston Martin is leveraging its investment and using the print channel for long-term branding position and consumer engagement. Recall and brand reinforcement critical in the highly competitive auto market.
A challenging market
Of course, it’s rare that car marques go to such lengths to market their models, however, the challenging auto sector demands that brands need to work hard to stand out. With 68 brands selling 380 models of cars, vans and trucks in a population of 25 million, Australia is one of the most competitive car markets in the world.
Every year, around 1.2 million cars are sold across the country, but that number is decreasing. Figures for 2018 showed a three per cent drop in new car sales, with passenger car sales slumping to less than a third of the overall market for the first time.
In this difficult environment, car makers are using every platform available to them. Online, TV, mobile, social, cinema, OOH and experiential, all receive a fair chunk marketing budget, however, these focus on short-term sales goals and often lose the brand awareness and loyalty build of long-termism. Successful auto brands understand this and are looking to print for brand equity build through aspirational customer engagement campaigning – a prime force in the path to purchase journey.
Land Rover/Jaguar’s Ashley Mayfield explained: “When communicating specifications and technical detail, digital is the preferred medium. But when it comes to brand value and the luxurious nature of our cars, we use print.”
The auto sector uses every print format to gain attention and build brand trust, from magazine adverts to direct mail to custom magazines, each doing a different job in moving the customer further down the sales funnel and increasing loyalty.
A recent Volvo magazine ad in Sweden, reinforced Volvo’s safe-brand positioning when it highlighted the safety of women in its cars by inviting the reader to place their hand over an outline of the average adult hand span on the page. Since crash test dummies are based on the dimensions of an average male, a smaller hand indicates less likelihood of being injured in a car crash.
Direct mail also has its place. Ford promoted the extendable cargo bed of their new Ranger Extreme model throughout New Zealand, by sending out match boxes that showed the vehicle getting longer as you open the box. BMW created a mailer which opened with a pull tab that mimicked the car driving smoothly through snow.
Each physical engagement reinforcing the brand message, increasing customer recall through action and talkbility from the engagement. Further, the relationship doesn’t end once the sale is made. Customers, Mercedes in particular, receive a regular custom magazine, providing another touchpoint that delivers yet more inspiration and information on getting the very best out of their vehicle.
These long-term brand strategies in play not only confirms to the customer that they made the right choice but makes the brand a known entity and therefore front-of-mind when it comes to purchasing the next car.
The endowment effect
Whatever the format, print forges a deeper connection with the customer, engaging with all the senses to create a memorable experience – one that’s likely to stay in the mind longer than a digital banner ad or 30-second video. Many experts agree that the basis for this engagement is in the touch and feel of print, the very act of holding a publication and turning its pages.
A major study by Millward Brown found that printed material left a deeper footprint on the brain, producing more activity in the parts associated with emotional engagement. From this and other studies, it’s clear that the sense of touch creates a connection between people and products, with the act of holding something creating a sense of psychological ownership that drives purchase. This is the Endowment Effect – the idea that people ascribe more value to things because they own them.
German psychologist and co-author of the book Touch! Sebastian Haupt said: “The endowment effect works even if you don’t own the object.
“It can be triggered just by physical contact and we even get a similar effect if we see someone nearby holding a magazine or newspaper.”
An inspired choice
The value of print is that it offers the customer control over their decision, giving them the inspiration and arming them with the facts before they enter a serious negotiation with the sales team. Like many products in the luxury sector, customers regard a brand’s marketing in the same light as its products – a well-crafted, high-quality print product will beat a hastily produced photocopy of a spec sheet, or quick flick banner ad every time.