McLaren: Only the rich, not the mass

McLaren Automotive is set to increase the number of dealerships in China as a strong push to expand into the world's largest auto market, targeting only the wealthy group.

In yesterday's latest model P1TM close-room preview, McLaren Asia-Pacific regional director Mirko Bordiga (pictured) told Marketing that its first dealerships in China will be opened in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Beijing and Chengdu in September, following approval from the Chinese authorities.

"McLaren is an old brand for 50 years but we just started producing road cars two years ago. Everybody knows the brand but they don't know we also produce road cars. So what we need to do is to work on the brand awareness in every way we can."

Positioned as a luxury automaker, Bordiga said big scale and glamorous events, road shows, test drives and cross-brand collaborations with luxurious brands (previous partners include Hugo boss and TAG Heuer) will be applied in the China expansion strategy to attract the wealthy group. But broad scale advertising such as outdoor and TVC is not necessary.

"The car is not for the mass, and there is no need for mass-production," said Bordiga. "This kind of things (marketing), either you do it big, or you don't do it. So we don't really want to reach the mass."

He added that the latest model will be introduced via road shows and will go around affluent places in China to attract the wealthy target demographic. A Chinese version of the brand's website will also be launched in the near future.

Last year 62 McLaren automobiles were sold in Hong Kong; while the number in China is yet to be measured but, according to Sime Darby Hong Kong Motor Group managing director Peter Goh, it should certainly be higher.

Asked to comment on the regional differences in customer demands, Goh said Hong Kong customers care more about the product since they already have extensive knowledge of sports car; while Chinese customers are more brand conscious, their demands of the product itself are relatively low.

"Our target customers in Hong Kong know what they are buying, while Chinese customers need more education on the cars."

He added that next year the automaker will keep focusing on building new dealerships in China as it is a vibrant market with great potential.

To date, McLaren have a total of 37 dealerships globally and is expecting to increase the number in Asia to 13 this year.