Mercedes-Benz is shifting its marketing emphasis from sportiness to affluence as it tries to attract more well-off, older buyers in the future.
The average age of a Mercedes buyer in Europe is 54.8, among the highest in the industry, the company said.
As the world's population continues to age, Mercedes thinks its new brand position will help increase sales.
So its core message will be traditional values and reliability. Sportiness is no longer a priority.
"The aging population helps us," said Klaus Maier, Mercedes Car Group executive vice president of sales and marketing.
"When you look at the demographics in Europe, there are more and more older buyers. Our customers are wealthy but older, so an aging population must help us," Maier said in an interview with Automotive News Europe.
Chasing older, affluent buyers instead of sporty, young buyers is all part of a new campaign initiated by DaimlerChrysler and Mercedes Car Group head Dieter Zetsche. The idea is to win back customers who turned away from the brand after reliability issues with the E class. Zetsche calls the new campaign Appreciation or Esteem.
Marketers call older, affluent buyers "Woopies" – an acronym for Well-Off Older People. Marketing analysts say Woopies account for 80 percent of luxury vehicle buyers.
Mercedes will try to appeal to them by emphasizing safety and comfort. For example, future C-class ads will highlight "fatigue-free, long-distance travel."
Said Maier: "If you drive a Mercedes and you are more than 55, we want to say, You have made it.' "
But Zetsche says sportiness is not gone forever from Mercedes advertising. For example, Mercedes' in-house tuner, AMG, still will use performance as a pillar of its marketing.
But for the non-AMG cars, other attributes will take precedence.
That doesn't mean sportiness will be sacrificed altogether.
"We want to link the best comfort with handling that is as good as the competition," Zetsche told ANE sister publication Automobilwoche. The new positioning "is not saying goodbye to sportiness," he said.
Harald Hamprecht contributed
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