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[column] French Marketing Revolution

For business connoisseurs, blue-white-red light is finally shining on the horizon again. Where as a D-segment lease driver you were either condemned to an SUV or had to drive predictably in Germany, there is now a French premium alternative to the well-known BMW 5-series. DS automobiles, PSA’s top-of-the-line brand, is starting the launch activities of the DS9. A car that exudes 4 meters and ninety-three centimeters of French luxury and steals the show with flirtatious winks at the time when limousines from Paris were still appreciated by everyone.

The introduction of the DS9 is a marketing mission that will certainly not be the easiest. Certainly not in these times when extravagance is seen as a risk rather than an asset.

Just act normal, then you are acting crazy enough, now that corona is emptying the company coffers. Still, the DS9 is more than welcome on the market. If only to help the Renault Talisman Initiale Paris in its mission. Making tasteful business kilometers visible to a group of customers who run car after car without looking any further to Ingolstadt or Munich. The big question is how the DS9 will conquer its place in that premium market with revolutionary marketing.

Objectively?
Very honestly: I am not objective. I wish the DS9 a great success. My current car is the actual predecessor of the DS9, a Citroën C6, although there is a sales gap of 7 years in between. And when I bought that car, I looked for a long time for a version that really had everything screwed that the PSA factory in Rennes could think of during production. No button is missing. My personal criterion is therefore that long-distance cars must be French. In addition, it must have all the luxury and above all must be very comfortable on the roads. I definitely don’t want a bouncy box. In short, I have been driving French limousines for a while. Without exception with a lot of leather, fake wood and standard with a sliding roof on board. In fact, my current car is a copy of the French Presidential cars, except that a retired cardiologist from Nice paid a large part of the depreciation on this blue limousine. The Élysée would rather do that itself, were it not for the fact that they spread the costs over many years, because the French government is still teeming with C6s. They must do something without a C6 alternative.

Initiale Paris
To further question my objectivity, my previous car can also be added to the list. A Renault Talisman in the distinct color combination of almost white leather and a silver exterior. Also a nice driving car with a beautiful and distinctive design. Such a Renault Talisman is simply beautiful. They should therefore have every business driver obliged to test drive a Talisman before they could even make a choice for a D-segment uniform sausage. Here too, bells and whistles make the difference in addition to the comfortable (and adjustable) chassis. Either way, the reality in the sales statistics is different, but the Renault Talisman definitely deserves a test drive if you’re in the market for a D-class car.

The BMWs also have their arguments in favor. I always think it’s great how they can give those big cars the lightness and tightness of a kart in Bavaria.

Mrwheelson
However, everything will ever come to an end and if you have driven a car for a while, as a car enthusiast you also want something different. The only question is what? In my case, the C6 will last a while, it has not too many kilometers behind the 18 inch Roccastrada rims. Nevertheless, I recently thought about what I would or would not like to drive afterwards. I honestly did not know. Nothing wrong with the German sedans though. The Mercedes in particular look slick lately and such a well-dressed A-class sedan for the price of – there it is again – Renault Talisman Initiale Paris is certainly not wrong. It has become a surprisingly beautiful and yet compact car. I have not yet driven it in such an A-class sedan, will do that by the time it becomes appropriate. Still, I fear that I will miss the comfort of my suspension balls in such an A-class sedan too much. Beautiful lines or not.

The BMWs also have their arguments in favor. I always think it’s great how they can give those big cars the light-footedness and string tightness of a kart in Bavaria. They ride majestically. Personally, however, I don’t think the current design line is anything too much. Too many lines, some anonymous taillights and for those big kidneys they still have to learn the Peugeot 407 lesson. So do me the previous generations and as I recently wrote here, they can be purchased for the most attractive conditions and with the optimal option list in Germany. Mrwheelson.nl will find one for you with their top service. They can immediately pass by a nice A6 for choice stress. In terms of design, that car appeals to me in a certain way, on the other hand, “Ingolstadt” remains somewhat anonymous, especially now that I look at the C6 from the window of my study while tapping this column. In short, I had not decided yet and until recently had no idea what a nice successor to the Citroën C6 could be. Also knowing that the SUV path that the PSA bosses have mapped out for me is not an option for me.

Suitable alternative
I was therefore enthusiastic when Autovisie released the latest “Sjoerds Facts” live last week. Twenty-two minutes of very relevant help content about the DS9. Each brand should make such a video themselves. Regardless, Autovisie explains the DS9 from start to finish. An epistle in which every detail of the new French D-segmenter is highlighted. Watch this video and you’ll talk to every French premium brand seller under the table. Beautifully portrayed and with all attention to concept, design and interior. A video that shows that as a C6 driver you actually have to look at this sedan from DS Automobiles if you really have to say goodbye to that modern interpretation of the CX. Because it is difficult for modern cars to reach classic status in 2020.

Parts supply and electronics will play tricks on them, Citroën will hopefully overcome the legal term of having to continue to supply parts with the C6, but with around 1200 cars in the Netherlands and around 27000 worldwide on the The screwing together of, say, COM2000 switches is no longer a flourishing business for the factory workers from Rennes in Brittany.

The current cars do not have eternal life, although you can certainly continue driving. However, our children do not go en masse to see C6s along the Amsterdam canals as we now observe entire Citroëns DS fleets from the sixties. Electronics and updates may make this maintenance too complex. As a target group, I am therefore pleased that DS will soon be able to offer me a suitable alternative to my current car.

The new DS9 is a true French luxury sedan, making it the top of DS Automobiles’ rapidly growing model range.

And they are doing well at Automobiles DS. Their latest model is based on the platform of the Peugeot 508 and you will certainly see similarities in profile. Although the DS9 is considerably longer at 4.93 meters. Not only as a whole, but also in terms of wheelbase. That stretch ensures a much better balance in the design than with the somewhat “thin” Peugeot 508, which looks better as a SW in my opinion. Speaking of that successful design of the DS9: the Dutchman Ivo Groen was responsible for the interplay of lines and is in charge of the design of the DS products. Due to the elongated design, the DS9, just like forefathers Citroën C6 and Citroën CX Prestige, has a royal legroom in the rear and if that spaciousness is not enough, the luxurious and fully electrically-powered lounge pack offers further indulgence for the rear passengers. Great place to be there.

Strong points of the DS9 are also the pronounced design, the powerful grille with chic details, the slightly narrower rear wheelbase (a stylistic nod to the Citroën DS), beautiful lights in the front, but certainly also at the rear and the small retro gimmicks such as the light at the top of the rear window plus the chrome strip over the hood. Styling elements that the original DS also had.
In terms of engines, the entire petrol engines for the Netherlands have been scrapped and the car will first only come as a 225hp E-tense where the puretech petrol engine and electric motor work together via a plug-in hybrid solution. Later, a monstrous 360 hp version of this E-tense drivetrain will follow, a version that also gets four-wheel drive. Diesels are no longer there. In short, the DS9 is not only beautiful in design, but also offers a very modern technical offering.

Unique selling points
Enough USPs to market this large French luxury sedan. But yes 4-door sedans are simply not the segment where the dealer flags really go out for. At the open house of the dealer, under the influence of the advertising campaigns, consumers walk straight to the umpteenth SUV and the other part of the target group opts for the umpteenth 5-series or upgraded A6 on automatic pilot. And Automobiles DS plus the underlying concern PSA itself are also a bit to blame for that downward sedan spiral, because they push crossovers like no other and have left big gaps in the succession of their limousines. You would only have bought an XM V6 Exclusive in 1999 and could only choose a C6 V6-24V as a successor in 2006. In the absence of a successor, those customers had to go to a German racing stable. Now get them back.

The French DNA in marketing can also be a victory on the one hand, but also a handicap on the other.

Because has group colleague Peugeot not already tried it a few times with the 605 and 607? Did “my” Citroën C6 not achieve only a pittance of the sales figures of the CX and XM? And isn’t the stylish Renault Talisman seriously undervalued in the lease market? These are all valid issues that require the attention of the DS marketer in this introduction.

Marketing Revolution
The DS9 does not end up in the easiest market segment and marketing will therefore play a crucial role in its success. The marketing strategy may even become the engine that should start the attention of the target group. It remains extremely important to build brand and model awareness among a choosy customer group. Prejudice among riders from the higher segment will also have to be removed. A marketing plan must be devised to entice potential DS9 customers who would otherwise automatically choose that 5-series or A6 in a French way. In fact, almost to summon them to get acquainted, just as competitor Renault Talisman Initiale Paris deserves a place at such a French introduction session. Unknown makes unloved and that is the trick to get senior management back into the French business sedan. The French president and not the German representative should again be seen as the great example for this group of choosy people!

Still, as an expert by experience, I am convinced that there is a larger market for French luxury sedans than you currently see in the figures. Consumers are creatures of habit and French luxury houses need to break that pattern with marketing. That requires an original and targeted approach. The use of a few micro-influencers, not the friendly smiling boys and girls with hundreds of thousands of followers, can help. You need personalities who have authority within a relevant business sector, who are listened to and who can make the DS9 visible. Targeted influence is therefore a very relevant step in this prestigious introduction. Looking for an influencer who enjoys authority in an Umfeld relevant to the DS9 and who can persuade those few thousand important prospects consistently and intensively, at least to put that introduction on their agenda.

After that, some of the people approached will definitely fall for the charms of the DS9, I’m sure. Especially when the manufacturer also uses the ultra-luxurious (red) top interior for an introduction and ensures an optimal driving experience. As soon as the residual value is properly assessed and solid buy-back agreements are made with dealers to keep the cars in their own network for the time being, the conditions are certainly healthy enough to successfully bring customers to the DS9.

Keep in mind that the French president is also enthusiastic about that pleated leather with elegant frills. DS9 marketing just sparks the second French revolution and after that the business world drives naturally French again. Just like in 1955 with the previous DS.

Jos van den Bergh (1973) worked for almost 20 years in various PR & communication positions in the automotive industry and nowadays advises with his company MediaMondo automotive and media parties in the field of marketing communication, PR and media. He is also a dealer marketing advisor at BranchePartners in Houten. For MarketingTribune he critically follows the developments in the automotive world. Do you also need marketing advice? Mail Jos without obligation at jjbergh@gmail.com

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