Exclusive Motors, the sole distributor of Lamborghini and Bentley cars in India that sell for around Rs 1.9 crore, has a wide range of merchandise sporting this much-aspired-for brandname, proudly displayed in its shop-in-shop. T-shirts, caps, jackets, shoes, ties, cuff links, desk-top bric-a-brac its all there. The prices are right within the reach of the ordinary consumer and there is quite a demand for this range, says Pankaj Sharma, corporate sales manager, Exclusive Motors. The T-shirt range, for example, starts at Rs 3,500 and goes right up to Rs 17,000. The jackets and shoes sport tags of Rs 12,000 and Rs 17,000 respectively. The brand is aspirational and it is pride of ownership that drives sales, Sharma adds.
Worldwide, brand bric-a brac has been a key focus area of most premium automobile brands. While on one hand, merchandising represents a window of opportunity for showcasing a brands vitality, it is also treated as a separate revenue stream by many. Companies such as DaimlerChrysler do brisk business online as well.
In India, the trend is relatively new, but it is catching up faster than you think, says Utpal Bhaskar, a self-confessed auto enthusiast. Car makers agree that with product parity-what with technology standardisation and price aggression among players-brand loyalty will become the most prized asset of a company and merchandising will assume greater importance in forging a bond with the customer.
For Lamborghini and Bentley, merchandising is one way of ensuring that the brand travels where the car cannot. So it is with General Motors, which has categorised the Merchandise under apparels (caps, T-shirts, jackets), personal items (wallets, pens, cardholders, perfumes) and scale cars (miniature GM models)all touting the Chevrolet brand name. While merchandising is not really an additional revenue generating stream for us, it definitely enriches the Chevrolet brand, claims P Balendran, vice-presidentat General Motors.
Available in the Rs 150-700 price range, the Chevrolet merchandise appears more affordable than the first two. Many of these items are also given out as gifts to loyal customers when new or upgraded models GM cars are introduced in the country. For customers, these products indicate surety of purchase, adds Balendran. For the auto industry, such merchandise is a strategic tool to create brand ambassadors out of current and prospective customers.
For Mercedes Benz, the merchandise is also a separate revenue stream. Customers can shop in the luxurious comfort of Mercedes Boutiques and pick from a selection of exclusive items bearing the three-pointed star.
The merchandise is based on four themesclassic, motor sports, innovation and lifestyle. Merc key chains, for example, are priced at Rs 247, golf caps at Rs 99, T-shirts at Rs 590.
So, if you are badge conscious and flaunt accessories, you know where to head for after you've pocketed this months salary.