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No Car Is the Same as Another. That's Luxury: Porsche India MD

Porsche India MD Anil Reddi talks about how to sell a luxury brand, and when it is a good time to say no to customers looking for a deal

Published: Oct 17, 2013 06:49:10 AM IST
Updated: Oct 17, 2013 08:46:56 AM IST
No Car Is the Same as Another. That's Luxury: Porsche India MD
Image: Manoj Patil for Forbes India
Anil Reddi believes that giving discounts as part of distress marketing devalues a brand

Anil reddi, 41, tends to veer towards philosophy—a lot of his sentences begin with ‘a wise man once said’. He also throws in anecdotes to emphasise his rooted background and passion for the top job at Porsche India. For instance, Reddi went to a boarding school and had a suitcase with his name written on it. He quickly links that incident to the individualisation that is part of the Porsche DNA, and which is instrumental when selling luxury.

The man is a cracker salesman who works hard and sells harder—himself, his brand and his passion. Over-the-top? Perhaps. But it works.

Q. How do you define luxury at Porsche?
In my mind, a luxury good is called a luxury good because it is built to last—it is passed on from generation to generation, it becomes an heirloom and this adds to its appeal. Two-thirds of all Porsche cars built thus far in the world are still on the road. We call this ‘Car for Life’. At Porsche, excellence is not an accident. Today the world calls it luxury but, at Porsche, it has always been a way of life.

Luxury is also about individualisation, detailing, craftsmanship, design and quality. With the Porsche Exclusive programme, we have thousands of individualisation items, arguably the highest offered by any manufacturer in the world. You can start with the exterior, headlamps, tailpipes, wheels, side skirts, decals… the list is endless. Start with simple things like trims, inlays and finishes. Our leather packages offer a variety in quality, colour and decorative stitching; you have a family crest, a monogram of your name, something embossed, etched—it is all possible.

Porsche sold 1,43,096 cars worldwide last year; I believe not a single car is the same as the other. That is luxury.  

Q. How do you sell a luxury car?
Simple. First, find the people who have Porsche in their hearts; those who have the purchasing power and the dream to own a Porsche. Second, enthuse a customer by letting him drive. It is not called bums on seats but hands on the wheel. Let the customer rev the engine a little bit, see what the machine can do and how it makes him feel. Luxury is gratification of the senses. It is the touch, feel, smell, sound and the attention you get that creates a lasting impression. I can tell you that if he hasn’t bought the car after the drive, then he will be back soon. It is important that our customers experience our cars live behind the wheel. One has to understand that our customers are not looking for the deal of the month. But, in a crowded market, understanding the needs profile and aspirations of the customer gets completely lost.

I often use the example of a person walking into a store to buy a notebook. You select one and if I as a salesperson see you, then I say, ‘Sir, that’s an excellent choice, do you use a fountain pen or a ball pen or a pencil? Is the pencil of a particular HB?’ Now the customer is foxed but it is important. It’s not just the writing instrument you use or the way you write; you could get a grid or just a plain sheet. The thickness of the paper is important. You can sell someone a gold-plated notebook by the end of that conversation. But you cannot push; you have to help them graduate into making that choice.

No Car Is the Same as Another. That's Luxury: Porsche India MD

Q. But everybody wants a good deal, don’t they?
Well, the customer is king and the king doesn’t bargain. Unfortunately in India—and I am not saying this as a sweeping statement—the higher you go, the more the king wants to bargain. So peel that fruit a little, try and understand what ‘bargain’ means.

In our world, the customer will walk through the whole process like a lovely person but there will come a time when he will say, ‘So what’s the deal?’ This person is saying, ‘I have infinite means of influence and authority and I am in the habit of getting what I want. So if I am going to buy this, what can you do for me for some ego gratification?’ This is the moment of truth. I am confident you can’t get anything off on a Porsche in India. We don’t discount and we are happy that way. Distress marketing devalues a brand. The task we have is to tell the customer ‘no, sorry, can’t do’ and still manage the relationship sensitively.

Q. Is this a good time to be a luxury car manufacturer?
A wise man said it is important to be fearless but it is also important to know what fear is. If I were to look at the premium car market, it constitutes about 2 percent of the total automobile market in India. On the one hand, you have the premium brands, and on the other super car nameplates. Where does Porsche fit in? In the sweet spot between these two. We call this ‘sports luxury’. The slowdown has impacted us, we are not immune to it. For our customers, the need to indulge, the passion to drive, and finally the status that you will enjoy with a Porsche—all of this helps us tap into the market.

Image: Reddi: Manoj Patil for Forbes India; Tom Cruise / Getty Images

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(This story appears in the 18 October, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Sandeep

    \"With the Porsche Exclusive programme, we have thousands of individualisation items, arguably the highest offered by any manufacturer in the world.\" I think Rolls Royce offers completely bespoke cars, and theirs is the largest individualisation program in the world. Please clarify.

    on Oct 20, 2013
  • Shobhit Gosain

    Really true there. No car and supercar are same.

    on Oct 19, 2013
  • Hariday

    Ya, the Indian kings always bargain. Just to ensure if this can come for a better price.

    on Oct 18, 2013
  • Vamshireddy

    Thanks for the good marketing ideas...

    on Oct 18, 2013