Aston Martin: going the extra mile

Discovered in 1913, Aston Martin is a luxury car brand that designs “powerful, exhilarating and precise, yet timelessly elegant and sophisticated” luxury vehicles (Aston Martin, 2016). Through over a century of building powerful cars, the brand has become an icon in its market. This was achieved not only through strategic positioning, but also a unique point of difference that the brand is renowned for:

In order for a brand to succeed in a market, it is important that they strongly position themselves within that market. Klopper and North (2011:92) explain that the brand has to become part of the consumers’ selection set. This means that the consumer will consider the brand for their desired purchase, should they see the brand as part of the category they want to buy in. Brands must therefore strongly associate with a specific category and the competitors within that category.

Aston Martin has positioned themselves in the luxury vehicle market with emphasis on power, class and status. Their largest competition includes Mercedes Benz AMG, Porsche, Bentley, Maserati and Jaguar. These car brands serve an affluent, upper class market. The need of this market is a luxury vehicle that signifies status and class, matched with a powerful engine and exclusivity that makes the consumer feel superior.

Aston Martin’s positioning strategy focuses on combining class and power equally. This allows their consumers to have a powerful car, while keeping their class and sophistication. Helping to create this desired perceived positioning in the consumers’ minds is their sponsorship of the popular 007 movie series. The class and sophistication of the “owner” James Bond is associated with the vehicle, while the high-speed car chases showcase the car’s powerful engine.

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Image 1: Aston Martin with “James Bond” (Source: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2016/02/19/12/315CC43500000578-3454443-image-a-37_1455883971647.jpg)

Using these two positioning factors, the below positioning map shows the market gap Aston Martin is filling in relation to their competition.

aston-martin-positioning-map
Image 2: Luxury motor vehicle positioning map (Source: own)

As seen above, the competitors lie close together pursuing the same area of market share. It is therefore extremely important for Aston Martin to find a strong and distinctive point of difference in order to gain the largest share in the market.

So how does Aston Martin remain the chosen brand in such a highly competitive market? The secret lies in their unique selling point – personal touch.

While the motor industry focuses on pushing quantity and having the most productive technology in their factories, Aston Martin believes in personal touch. The brand’s focus is on keeping the human aspect. For them, it is all about the people behind the brand and their consumers.

They firstly achieve this by hand building their vehicles. It takes about 200 hours per car to build (Reiter, 2014). But Aston Martin values quality over quantity. The brand pays attention to detail by doing so, and ensures that each model is perfect. This does not only add value to the car itself, but also to the consumer’s purchase. It takes away the feeling of a mass produced product and replaces it with feeling valued and unique as people spent time building your perfect ride.

Each car is also inspected after manufacturing to ensure that every aspect is flawless (Reiter, 2014). This is then signed off by an expert. In order to highlight the authenticity and increase the human touch, the brand inserts a plate in the engine area. This plate shows the name of the final inspector, which doubles as a signature of approved excellence.

car-photo-aston-martin-db9-final-inspection-tag-plaque
Image 3: Example of Aston Martin plate in car engine (Source: http://www.modifiedplanet.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/car-photo-aston-martin-db9-final-inspection-tag-plaque.jpg)

Adding to this is the car’s badge. Each badge is hand painted, transforming it into artwork (Rosenholtz, 2016). It further shows the attention to detail the brand pays in the build of their cars, making it more unique and valued.

aston-badge-2016-014
Image 4: Aston Martin hand painted badge (Source: http://images.cdn.autocar.co.uk/sites/autocar.co.uk/files/styles/gallery_slide/public/images/car-reviews/first-drives/legacy/aston-badge-2016-014.jpg?itok=glxRaV9k)

Lastly, focusing on the consumers’ need of exclusivity, the brand has a programme called “Q by Aston Martin“. As the brand states it, the programme is about pairing the consumer’s vision with Aston Martin’s expertise. The goal is to create an Aston Martin for the consumer that they can call their own. Something that reflects their desires. This has been copied by their competitors, but with Aston Martin’s actual human touch, the programme is more meaningful and personal for the consumer.

The reason behind the success of the brand’s point of difference is that it speaks to the consumers’ needs. They are affluent customers who desire to be treated as VIP’s. Machines and mass production won’t make them feel special. But someone taking the time to create a masterpiece for them will.

Aston Martin realised this and ensured that they firstly position themselves in this affluent market through class and power. And then differentiating themselves through personal touch. Consequently they have created an offering that is not only unique, but makes their customers feel unique and valued too. Ultimately, going the extra mile is not easy, but it will take you to the lead…

 

References:

Aston Martin. 2016. 007 & Aston Martin. Available: http://www.astonmartin.com/en/heritage/james-bond [2016, November 12].

Aston Martin. 2016. Our Company. Available: http://www.astonmartin.com/en/company/about-us [2016, November 12].

Aston Martin. 2016. Q: The Ultimate Bespoke Option. Available: http://www.astonmartin.com/q-by-aston-martin [2016, November 12].

Klopper, H.B. & North, E. 2011. Brand Management. Pearson: Cape Town

Reiter, C. 2014. Aston Martin focuses car spending on hand-made technology. Available: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-05-12/aston-martin-focuses-car-spending-on-hand-made-technology [2016, November 12].

Rosenholtz, J. 2016. You won’t believe how much care goes into making an Aston Martin badge. Available: http://www.carbuzz.com/news/2016/4/15/You-Won-t-Believe-How-Much-Care-Goes-Into-Making-An-Aston-Martin-Badge-7733057/ [2016, November 12].

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