Mark Raine of Mercedes-Benz Malaysia tells us why the brand has remained the premium choice among luxury car aficionados
Tell us more about yourself and your role as VP of Sales and Marketing.
I oversee strategies to achieve our defined targets from a brand, product, customer and sales perspective. This, of course, includes our marketing activities, which are planned to make our brand desirable and approachable, while steadfastly pursuing our claim to modern luxury. Additionally, my role in Malaysia has a regional scope covering markets such as Singapore and Indonesia which are part of the Southeast Asia II hub and other general distribution markets, including the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, all the way up to Indochina and Sri Lanka.
You’ve seen a year-on-year growth in terms of sales. Do you see this trend continuing in 2018?
Through the strong and collaborative partnership with our dealer network, this exceptional result was made possible. We will continue to increase our efforts to grow the business with steadfast focus on the customer, and target to increase our market share as well as footprint in Malaysia and the region. Based on our stellar track record and the confidence and loyalty our customers have given us, we are confident that 2018 will continue to see us breaking sales records, while strengthening our position as the Number 1 premium brand in Malaysia.
Mercedes-Benz is a leader in the market for luxury cars. What would you say has contributed to its success?
We believe in and employ a customer-centric strategy, where we constantly pursue excellence. At the same, we are agile and quick to adapt to changing market situations. We also recognise the need for committed investments in the markets we operate in. In Malaysia, for instance, this has resulted in a total investment of over RM1 billion (USD245 million) since 2003. In the aftersales department, we are proud of our comprehensive network coverage, which offers an exacting standard of premium service. Last but not least, our superior product portfolio is aligned to local requirements and customer tastes. All this ensures that we deliver on our founders’ promise of The Best Or Nothing in every car that we offer.
How is the Malaysian market different from other markets in the region?
The Malaysian market has its own challenges and opportunities just like any other. We find that the Malaysian Mercedes-Benz owner or driver tends to be very particular about their luxury vehicle and has very high expectations about the overall ownership experience. In terms of product offers, we have been able to introduce very progressive technologies in the form of our Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles such as the E 350 e and C 350 e limousines due to attractive incentives offered by the government. This has enabled the Malaysian customer to enjoy our most modern vehicles at a great value.
A hot topic today is about disruptive technologies, like Uber and Tesla, and how it is affecting the automotive sector. How do you stay competitive?
We look at our business holistically from the perspective of our customer-centric strategy. Together with our in-house partner Mercedes-Benz Financial, we offer a broad range of services for financing such as Agility Financing and Lease2Go, unique offerings that are tailored to the Malaysian market to offer an ownership experience of a different kind that isn’t necessarily outright. This allows our customers the freedom to experience new Mercedes-Benz cars over shorter intervals. We also pay very close attention to innovation as evident in our automotive technology leaders, the plug-in hybrids which are our new bestsellers. While ride-sharing is a growing industry, we compete in the premium luxury market. Our competitiveness lies in our ability to continue reinventing, and with each new vehicle, our luxury proposition is often beyond our customers’ expectations.
What are some of the other challenges faced by the luxury car market?
The luxury car market must adapt to the changing tastes of the discerning customer. Our customers appreciate a high level of individuality in our cars and the latest infotainment and safety features, therefore the luxury car market must endeavour to stay ahead of the game. At Mercedes-Benz, our Best Customer Experience initiative is a holistic approach that encompasses the customer’s entire journey. This ensures that they receive the best service and care at every step of the ownership process.
Mercedes-Benz has been at the forefront of not only automotive events but also lifestyle and travel, such as the ‘Hungry For Adventure’ collaboration with adventurer Mike Horn. How does this fit into your overall brand strategy?
‘Hungry For Adventure’ is the tagline for our SUV campaign in the same way that we use ‘Urban Hunting’ for our compact cars. For Mike Horn, his endorsement of the capability of our G-Class in his extreme journeys around the globe is a fantastic way of showcasing the engineering excellence of our durable yet luxurious SUVs. Mercedes-Benz also headlines fashion shows and lifestyle sports such as the Mercedes-Benz Trophy golf tournament as these events are precisely how our customers like to enjoy their downtime. As such, these fit into our overall brand experience as the ideal Mercedes-Benz lifestyle, as viewed by those who enjoy our cars.
What can we expect from Mercedes-Benz in 2018?
We have a lot of exciting launches and activities planned which will strengthen our accomplished range of Mercedes-Benz cars and allow us to engage with our fans in new and innovative ways. You can expect a tantalising rejuvenation of our product portfolio, exciting customer touchpoints to complement our brick-and-mortar Autohauses and interesting new platforms to experience the brand. Also in the near future, look out for innovative and industry leading approaches to future mobility from Mercedes-Benz!
Which Mercedes-Benz car is your personal favourite?
I would go for the Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 Coupe, without a doubt. It offers the best of both worlds – agile and powerful yet practical. It fits my personal style and meets all the requirements I have for a car. It’s the perfect partner-in-crime for my active lifestyle!